Traveling to exotic places has its appeal, but there is often incredible beauty right out our back door. Throw a bike on the back of your car, toss in a sleeping bag and a tent, get a new caliper and rotor while en route and get out there! Oh, yeah. So this happened.
What began as, “Is that sound coming from MY car?” led to “Ooh, that doesn’t sound good.” With a more erect posture and tighter grip on the wheel, I found a shop that was willing to take a look and ultimately fixed my girl up. Thanks Jim’s Auto Repair in Ellsworth, Maine!
On to the park! Acadia National Park, that is, on Mount Desert Island in Maine (Desert is pronounced like “dessert”). It is known for its rocky coastline and rounded granite peaks. Acadia is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails and carriage trails. The earliest inhabitants of the area were the Wabinaki people, then the French nudged their way in and called it their own. Later it became New England as part of Massachusetts. (I know….it’s history….but hang in there, I’ll be quick.) In the mid 1800’s artists and journalists brought attention to the beauty of the island and soon their friends began a summer trek to join them. These “rusticators” lived in basic accommodations and ate simply. The wealthy took notice and began building “cottages” the size of mansions, and hotels began to spring up everywhere. Oh, I know. The wealthy elbowed their way in and overdeveloped the place, right? Well, yea, a bit. But wait, there’s actually some good things to come from this. Although John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gets much of the credit for the expansive carriage trails and beautiful stone archways built in the park (as he should, because they’re pretty great), it is George B. Dorr who pushed hard to preserve the natural beauty and obtain its national park status. Thanks, Mr. Dorr! These fellows were pretty wealthy but used their own money to preserve the parks beauty.
You can be fancy or rugged within the park borders. Although the town of Bar Harbor is not far away with it’s plethora of restaurants, hotels, bars, t-shirt shops and guided tours, Jordan Pond House is the hottest ticket within the park. And did I mention it’s the only restaurant within the park? It’s a great place for a bite to eat while returning from the trails. From 3-5pm tea and popovers are served if you want to feel like a Rockefeller. And if you want to eat popovers and have tea while in your muddy hiking boots or spandex bike shorts, you can. It’s still Maine, after all (i.e. we’re really not that fancy here).
A Word on Hiking in the Park
I took a walk around Jordan Pond pictured above which took about 2 hours. The breast-like mounds in the background are The Bubbles – a great hike for another day. Much like my eighth grade self, the Jordan Pond trail was very flat but complicated. Much of the trail was under preservation efforts with boardwalk-like planks that shifted and moved frequently. And Maine trails are often full of roots and rocks. Sometimes A LOT of roots and rocks. So it was an easy trail but uneven and well, complicated.
This on the Jordan Pond trail. The maintained trail portion.
The next day I hiked Pemetic Mountain (North Ridge Trail, from Bubble Pond, 1.2 miles to the top) and much of the trail is like what you often find in Maine:
And for those of you who are not hikers, yes those are trails. How do I find my way? In some places the path was worn and you could tell it was a trail, but many areas it was difficulty to tell. There are markings on the trees or the rocks to mark the way in each picture….look closely for the blue. Now once I reached the top, the trail markers looked like this:
Here cairns mark the way with the top rock pointing in the direction of the trail. There can also be blue patches painted on the rocks (which you can see off in the distance of this photo) although these were sometimes faded and hard to spot. Rookie outdoors people, kids or jokesters, please don’t pile more rocks or mess with the current formations. They’re kinda important that they stay the way they are. Thanks.
It was a great short hike on a beautiful day. Hiking in the park can provide you with easy or difficult trails, short or long. I like hiking here because I often hike by myself and here I trust that I’m less likely to get lost (although still possible) and if I do, I’m not to far from a road or carriage trail. If you want to “get away from it all” and be more alone in the woods, go to Baxter State Park, further inland in Maine. This is where the Appalachian Trail terminates. Or go to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But Acadia is beautiful and I loved the time I spent there.