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yk+family week at Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park, July 2022

yk+family week at Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park, July 2022

Old Jul 11th, 2022, 01:53 PM
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yk
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yk+family week at Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park, July 2022

Hello, we were in Maine on Mount Desert Island for the week of July 4th. We = 6 people/3 generations: myself, DH, our son (age 9), DH's sister, and DH's parents. We rented a house on the "quiet" side of the island near Southwest Harbor. My ILs family have spent decades vacationing on MDI; they had a family home at Northeast Harbor which now belongs to my MIL's brother. I've been there a number of times in the past, but my last visit there (with DH) was in 2011, before our son was born, so it's our son's first time.

We were super lucky to have incredible weather all week. Sunny blue skies almost every day. It rained just once and it happened overnight. Temps were fairly warm up to almost 80F.

I HIGHLY recommend downloading the NPS app on your phone ahead of time. you can then select the national park you are visiting, AND download that particular park information on your phone so you can access it offline. Acadia has very poor cell reception; most of the time we are out hiking I have no signal at all. The downloaded app has hikes descriptions and maps, which you can check offline. It helped us a number of times when we just wanted to double check to be sure we are on the correct trail.

In addition, the Main page of the Acadia NP website has loads of information: entire page dedicated to hiking with list of hikes, descriptions and environs. There are also calendar of events etc. It's super useful to consult it ahead of time in order to plan your trip/plan your day.

Acadia NP Visitors Center The Hulls Cove Visitors center is the main visitors center of Acadia National Park. Needless to say, it was extremely busy, especially during July 4th week. DH had already purchased the park pass online and printed it at home; if you didn't do that, you can buy it at the visitors center. One line is for buying passes; another line is for information. We didn't need to stop there except for my son to get his junior ranger badge (after he did the activities). On a Wednesday at 12noon, we waited in line for close to 30 minutes, even though there were no more than 8 parties ahead of us in line. The 3 rangers at the info desk were hardworking and very informative; hence explaining why the wait is so long.

I won't recount our day-to-day activities, but rather will post a list of what we did. We didn't do everything together, given the health limitations of my FIL.

Biking
The 3 of us brought our bikes to ride the carriage roads. Even though we are fairly used to biking around here (boston area), we bike on rail trails or bike paths, which are paved and mostly flat. So that totally did NOT prepare us for the carriage roads, which have (gentle) hills and gravel.

The NPS website has carriage roads map. and These maps are also available at the main parking lots of the carriage roads. Very handy and I HIGHLY recommend you grab one. Even though there are sign posts at every intersection, the signs aren't always clear, so we found ourselves consulting the map to make sure we take the correct route.

Our first attempt began at Upper Hadlock Pond. DH misread the map and we got on the "wrong" loop. No matter, 3.3 miles later, he got a flat tire. He and our son walked their bikes another 2.5 miles to the Eagle Lake parking lot, while I rode the 3.3 miles back to the upper hedlock parking lot, retrieved the car and drove to the Eagle Lake parking lot to pick them up.

After getting his tire fixed at a bike shop in Southwest Harbor, we attempted another bike ride a few days later. This time we went on the 11-mile Tri-Lakes Loop: starting at the top of Eagle Lake, going clockwise, rode south on the eastern side of Eagle Lake, down to Bubble Pond, passed the stables, back up to Jordan Pond, then back up to top of Eagle Lake via the west side. I recommend doing this loop clockwise like we did. The reason being, there are lots of hills up and down along the way, but the final 2 miles of the loop, it's mostly downhill + flat, so it was a nice way to end the ride with tired legs!

Hiking
Beech Mountain South Ridge Loop We hiked this entire loop, which is about 2.5 miles. Some of the ascent is rocky and steep, but not much scrambling needed. View from the fire tower is pretty decent.

Acadia Mountain This is our favorite hike, even though it involved a lot more rock scrambling both up and down. We did not do the entire loop as described. Instead, we skipped the St. Sauveur half, and we began with the Acadia Mountain trail, reached the summit, then returned via the Man o' War Brook fire road. The view from Acadia Mountain summit was incredible; well worth the hike.

Lower Day Mountain / Hunters Cliff / Hunters Beach This trail is outside of Acadia NP. We only knew about it when we went hiking with DH's cousin (daughter of MIL's brother), as she spends every summer on MDI. It has some steep parts but the beach is really really lovely, as well as view of the cliffs. Because it isn't part of the Park, there aren't really blazes or markers; rather just cairns pointing the way. I would NOT feel comfortable hiking here without knowing the trail well.

Ship Harbor Trail an easy figure 8 loop that goes out to the rocky shores. The top half of the loop (closest to parking lot) is accessible; the bottom half isn't. Once you get to the bottom, you can climb onto rocks and watch the surf, or check out tide pools at low tide. We were there at high tide and enjoyed watching the waves for a long time. Views along the trail are very pretty.

Wonderland Trail another easy hike out to the rocky shores. Trailheads for Wonderland Trail & Ship harbor trail are at most 1/4 mile apart. The hike itself is less scenic. My son requested to go during low tide so he can explore the tide pools, which we did. There are tons of seaweeds on the exposed rocks so we could only get to a handful of tide pools, and they aren't too exciting. Lots of snails/periwinkles, sea weeds, and we spotted a few small crabs.

Cruise
On the NP website under calendar, I noticed the NP offers morning Nature Cruise to Little Cranberry Island, so we did that with the whole family. The cruise leaves from NE Harbor at 9:30am and lasts 2hr45min. On board with us is a park ranger, in addition to the crew. 45 minutes later we arrived at Isleford on Little Cranberry Island; it's a village with mostly lobstermen residing. We visited the church (has a set of stained glass made from sea glass by a local artist), and the Isleford Historic Museum which, obviously, talks about history of the island, as well as what the islanders do year-round. We only have about 45 minutes on land so you have to be mindful of time. There is a snack shack that sells lobster rolls, as well as a few souvenir stores by the dock. On the way back, the boat heads into Somes Sound where we learned the difference between a fjord and a fjard. During the cruise we saw plenty of wildlife, including a bald eagle, a number of harbor seals, loon, a porpoise, Guillemots, and ospreys.

Misc
Park Loop Road one afternoon we drove the Park Loop Road, starting at the Hulls Cove Visitors center, then stopping at Sieur de Monts where there is another visitors center (nature visitors center) and the Wild Gardens of Acadia. Although the garden is small, it packs a whole lot in it and even my son (who rolls his eyes at "garden") found it interesting. We lucked out at Thunder Hole parking lot as we found a spot... cars were parked at least 1/2 mile down the road. We spent a long time there; perhaps 15 minutes at the "viewing platform" then perhaps an hour on the rocks watching the breaking waves. Tide was coming in at that time and it baffles me how many people would risk their lives to take a selfie... TBH I felt a number of them were close calls as to being washed out to sea. There are tide pools as well and we also saw crabs.

Sargent Drive it was shorter than I remembered... that's all I'm going to say about it. There is one turnout spot that is worth stopping for a photo op.

Thuya Garden a must-see every time we come to MDI because the ILs used to come here a lot. It's not big but very pretty and well-kept.

Carroll Family Homestead This is very close to our rental house, and we drove by it multiple times a day, so on our day of departure, we stopped for a visit before heading back. (We had originally planned to visit Bass harbor Light that morning, but we ran into the Southwest Harbor flamingo festival/parade and the line of cars stretched for miles, so no lighthouse for us). The homestead is only open a few days a week. It was a farm in the Carroll family for 4 generations from early 1800s to early 1900s and was a subsistence farm. There were several rangers on site to give tours of the house. Not a must-see but certainly interesting/educational.

Food
We mostly cooked and ate in/packed picnics. We ate out twice, once from Ted's takeout food truck at Northeast harbor (right by the dock where we took our cruise). There are a couple of benches nearby where you can eat your lunch (nicely shaded by trees). The lady is extremely nice and sweet, and everything is cook to order. We got a couple of pulled pork sandwiches and cheeseburgers. They also have lobster roll ($30; 4oz) and lobster stew, and crabmeat roll I believe.

Another night we got takeout from Beal's Lobster at Southwest Harbor. We probably could have eaten there as they have outdoor dining, but FIL's health isn't great so it's easiest to get takeout. DH & I each got a steamed lobster (1.5lb-1.99lb; $35 each), and shared 1 lb of steamers ($16). The steamers were amazing; huge and meaty/juicy and barely any sand. My lobster was a female with good meat; DH's one was slightly more watery.

I think that's all I can think of regarding this trip. Happy to answer any questions you might have. Thank you for reading!
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Old Jul 12th, 2022, 12:53 AM
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packed a lot in.Great trip report.
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Old Jul 12th, 2022, 05:44 PM
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I just realized I forgot to tag this post as a trip report. Is there a way to add it on after the fact?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 08:31 AM
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Great trip report! Were you there for a full week? I'm planning for next year and trying to figure out how many nights, but also looking to go to the White Mountains and maybe Portland and Boston areas while we are out that way (from Cincinnati). Thanks
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Old Jul 25th, 2022, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by scottulrich7333 View Post
Great trip report! Were you there for a full week? I'm planning for next year and trying to figure out how many nights, but also looking to go to the White Mountains and maybe Portland and Boston areas while we are out that way (from Cincinnati). Thanks
Hello, yes, we stayed on Mount Desert island for a full week with a Sat-Sat rental.
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