Avoid crowds by heading to the Schoodic Peninsula

Along the Acadia National Park road on the Schoodic Peninsula–Cadillac Mountain in the distance

We try to visit Acadia National Park every spring and fall in “normal” times, but this year has been anything but normal. Our spring visit fell by the wayside, like most everyone’s plans. This fall, we saw an opportunity, found a place (Windward Cottages) where we had stayed before, which had a full kitchen, firm! beds, and had been unoccupied for three days prior to our arrival. For a time during this pandemic Massachusetts residents were welcome in Maine, so we packed food for the week, planned to keep very much to ourselves, and headed to Mt. Desert Island, Maine.

View of Frenchman’s Bay from Witches Hole, a carriage road in the national park on Mt. Desert Island. One ride on the carriage paths of the island was enough to convince us to look elsewhere to #avoidcrowds!

We might have stayed other places, but we know the trails of Acadia National Park. That is, we know where to find Easy Walks within the park. That being said, it was still a challenge.

Small ponds, rather than spectacular views, account for most of what you’ll see on the Witch’s Hole carriage road

These Easy Walks are easy for everyone, and most parking areas we got to were either full, or filling up even as we made up our mind to stay or move on to Plan B.

Carriage path in Acadia National Park, Schoodic Peninsula,

Turns out, our Plan B for the week ended up being trails on the mainland Schoodic Peninsula. Acadia National Park, which has holdings on the shoreline on this peninsula, and features several carriage roads appropriate for both walking and biking.

View from the road along the coastline at Schoodic

The one-way road along six miles of the coastline in the park offered a great opportunity for us to peddle along on our adaptive tandem bicycle, road-biking, assured that the few cars that passed us on our visit would move into the far lane and give us plenty of space.

Fun areas at Schoodic for rock scrambling for those of us who enjoy this

What had always seemed to be too much of a drive became a great option when we figured out how few other visitors come to this lovely portion of the national park. We got some amazing views of Mt. Desert from across Frenchman’s Bay.

Near sundown on the Schoodic peninsula in the National Park

The rocky shoreline felt very similar to the coastline of Mt. Desert. And we saw very few other visitors.

View of some mountains from a sandy beach at Little Tunk Pond Preserve

We found a number of other trails to investigate on the peninsula and ran out of time to see them all. We stopped at a small parking lot for Little Tunk Pond Preserve, overseen by the Frenchman’s Bay Conservancy where we found a trail down to a sandy beach, with mountain views.

Quiet, deserted Sandy Beach at Little Tunk Pond Preserve

Only as we were leaving did we see another couple. Otherwise we had the sandy beach to ourselves.

A ton of work went into making this trail to Little Tunk Pond useable. Kudos to the volunteers and fund raisers who made this possible.

Admittedly, the quarter mile trail to the pond was not really an Easy Walk, but hiking poles made the difference, and it was worth the effort to get to the beach and the views.

A riot of color awaited us at the field of wild blueberries on the Peninsula

Fields of wild blueberries put on an amazing show for us as we explored this area. Rainbow hues glowed in the sunshine, a last blaze of color before winter sets in.

The Valley trail on Mt. Desert Island, near Beech Mountain

We took “the road less traveled” at Beech mountain and saw few other visitors.

Such cool boulders along the Valley trail

The park service has done an amazing job of making the Valley trail a much more friendly path than it was in the past, for those of us who are looking for Easy Walks.

One of the paths up Beech mountain–watch your step…

One of the alternate paths up Beech mountain is clearly NOT an Easy
Walk!

A surprise encounter on a peaceful kayak paddle along the shoreline of Mt. Desert Island

We ran out of time to explore all we found on the island as well. When pushed to be creative in #avoidingcrowds, we learned about places we surely will return to in the future, hopefully when not besieged by a pandemic, but just because they offer solitude, beauty, and some Easy Walks. May you continue to find Easy Walks even as we head into colder weather, and Happy Trails!

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.

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.

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