We expected to have smaller crowds at Acadia National Park when we visited at the end of September. We saw hints of color on our drive north, and spotted lots of small splashes of color during our week’s visit, but were not prepared for the massive number of people who gathered in the most popular spots (Otter Cliffs, Sand Beach, and Jordan Pond).
We have learned where less busy spots are, and spent most of our time in those sections of the park. We even found a lovely Easy Walk just a block from the Brown Mountain parking area near Lower Hadlock Pond. A dirt road, Hadlock Pond Road, has extremely limited parking, but offers access to a number of trails.
We chose the easiest trail, a fire road, that took us out to the dam which created the pond, and when we turned around at the dam,
got a stunning view of Bald Peak. Additional “Bridle Path” trails headed off from where we walked, as well as numerous other trails, but they promised roots and rocks, something I find very difficult to manage.
When traveling around Eagle Lake on our adaptive tandem bike, we found a lunch spot near the shore of the lake, and spotted intriguing color in the water grasses just off shore.
We also found fall color in the Witch’s Hole area, which offers lots of wetland areas, where the swamp maples were already turning, offering bright red blazes of color.
We took our adaptive tandem bike out on the carriage roads and spent the day on the “Around the Mountain” path, getting amazing views of the island and beyond.
Parking areas are full in the mornings, but by mid afternoon many people have headed elsewhere. By the time we returned around 4PM, the parking areas had nearly emptied.
We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain on a day with less wind that I can recall from other visits to this high spot on the island. Usually a stiff breeze blows constantly, but this day we saw fall colors, and still had to peel off jackets in the full sunshine.
We also saw three cruise ships anchored in Bar Harbor. We learned that not only are cruise ships arriving every day, but that they continue to bring passengers all the way into November. This has had a large impact on area businesses, extending “the season” for far beyond the usual end of season in October
Our visit to Sand Beach revealed new steps down to the beach with handicapped railings. For some reason, the railings stopped four steps short of the sand, an oversight one hopes the park service will correct in the future.
Sand Beach features a stream that usually pours fresh water into the sea, but the water level was low and the stream stopped before reaching the ocean. We hopped over the dry stream and explored the other side of the water,
taking in views of the Bubbles, and spotting climbers snaking their way up these steep rocks.
Later the same day, we walked, venturing to Jordan Pond to access the Jordan Stream Path. While the parking area around Jordan Pond is a mob scene, as well as the famed restaurant in that location, the Jordan Stream path, which follows the outlet for water from Jordan Pond, was nearly deserted. We saw no hikers on the path across the stream from the carriage road.
We took the Easy Walk on the carriage road, and encountered two walkers, two people on bikes, and two people on horseback. Otherwise we had the area to ourselves.
The stream was quite low in the fall, and still, it was like listening to a thousand tiny waterfalls, with the hypnotic sounds of rushing water as it found its way to the sea.
When not at the park, we enjoyed staying at an amazing place on the water, just off island in Trenton.
From there, we took in views of many of the mountains of Mt. Desert Island. Sunrises were especially stunning. Seals visited, while herons, mergansers, cormorants and loons hung out in the quiet bay, and we watched the tides go in and out with all the changes each tide brought. Yes, we will be back….
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.