Where the mountains meet the sea… a trip to Bar Harbor would be incomplete without exploring some of the 47,000 acres that is Acadia National Park. Surrounded by Acadia, and less than three miles from the main entrance and Visitor’s Center, the village of Bar Harbor makes an ideal base camp for the outdoor enthusiast in each of us. Let us help you explore the park at your own pace, or solicit one of Bar Harbor’s professional guides, outfitters, mariners or instructors to help you make the most of the opportunities available in this unique environment. The 27 mile scenic Park Loop Road, 45 miles of carriage roads, and 125 miles of hiking trails ensure that you will never run out of new destinations.
The Park Loop Road
The Park Loop Road is the crown jewel of Acadia National Park, and the primary avenue for navigating through the eastern portion of the park by vehicle. If you never got out of your car, you could probably drive this road in about one hour. But with dozens of scenic overlooks, to think you will “do the Loop Road” in one hour is a bit ambitious. Most of our guests prefer a more relaxed pace, usually enjoying this adventure for about six to eight hours.
Among the countless scenic vistas along the Loop Road, there are several guide-book highlights that should not be missed. Starting at the main Visitor’s Center in Hulls Cove, the road heads south. Turning left after about three miles will put you on the one-way portion of the Loop Road. Following the road in a clockwise direction will take you past the Wild Gardens of Acadia, the Precipice Trail (a great hike in the spring and fall, and a Perigrine Falcon observation point in the summer), the Schooner Head Overlook, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Monument Cove, Otter Cliffs, Wildwood Stables, the Jordan Pond House, Bubble Rock, Bubble Pond, the summit road to Cadillac Mountain, and a plethora of world class hiking trails.
Rockefeller's Carriage Roads
Between 1913 and 1940, construction of the Carriage Road system was financed and directed by John D. Rockefeller Jr, son of the famous oil tycoon and founder of Standard Oil. Blending seamlessly into the area’s natural terrain, the 16-foot wide carriage roads meander through the eastern portion of Acadia providing access to picturesque views of the area’s lakes, mountains, and bays. Banned to motorized vehicles, the roads are ideal for hikers and bikers in the summer, and cross-country skiers in the winter. Amidst the 45-mile network of carriage roads there are 17 bridges clad in hand-hewn locally quarried granite spanning streams, waterfalls, roads, and cliffsides. Each one is a unique work of art, best appreciated from below, and a wonderful place to stop for a snack during your journey.
125 miles of intensely scenic, and often surprisingly rugged day hikes through the coastal mountains of Acadia can put even the most seasoned hiker to the test. There are lung-busting, thigh-burning hikes like the Gorge Path, Precipice and the Cadillac West Face Trail with enough scrambling and exposure to keep thrill seekers happy. And there are gentler, rambling woodland paths like Hunter’s Beach and the Shore Path that reward us with views every bit as dramatic, but with much less physical effort. The best day hikes in Acadia will showcase the awe-inspiring vistas of the forested hills, glacial ponds, rocky cliffs and jagged coastline of Mount Desert Island. Matt and Kristi (and their kids, despite the occasional protest) are avid hikers in Acadia, and are more than happy to assist you by recommending an assortment of suitable trails to keep you on (or off) the beaten path. Check out the photos in our Image Gallery for some hiking inspiration.
For your convenience, the Island Explorer features seven bus routes from the Bar Harbor Village Green (a 10 minute walk from the Saltair Inn) and one from the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center to destinations throughout Acadia National Park and the neighboring villages of Mount Desert Island. Clean propane-powered vehicles provide visitors and residents free transportation to hiking trails, carriage roads, island beaches, and in-town shops. Service is seasonal.