Weekend Itinerary for Acadia National Park
Written December 2021
Traveled September 2021
My family’s visit to Acadia National Park in Maine was one with heartfelt purpose! My youngest brother, Kenneth, FINISHED the Appalachian Trail and our goal was to meet him at the end. Having walked roughly 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine, we wanted to be there to celebrate the achievement of his goal. I’m so grateful we got to share these memories together.
Personally, this trip was not all I would have imagined for spending a weekend at Acadia National Park. Just two weeks before this trip, I injured my back at work. Thus, I was not able to participate in any hiking activities. I am grateful to have been able to fly on Cape Air from Boston to Bar Harbor, as there’s no way I would have been able to drive 200 miles from Boston to Acadia National Park.
If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway, this is your accessible guide to seeing all of Acadia National Park in TWO days!
Acadia National Park
- With 3.5 million visits per year, Acadia is one of the TOP TEN most visited national parks in the United States!
- Acadia was originally designated as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916. It later became Lafayette National Park in 1919 through an act of Congress, and the name changed again to Acadia National Park in 1929.
- There are 45 miles of rustic carriage roads throughout the park, which where originally a gift from philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and family at the turn of the 20th century
- Acadia National Park is one of more than 50 parks which have Artist-in-Residence Programs and has inspired painters, writers, and dancers to create along its shores.
The trails in Acadia National Park are relatively short, which means they’re also highly accessible and offer a variety of scenery for low energy cost. My family and I explored much of the park by vehicle (given my back injury at the time), but here are some of the top trails and hikes in the park!
- Beehive Loop: While this trail is only 1.4 miles round trip, it’s an Acadia classic. There are rungs and ladders to climb along rocky, exposed cliffs.
- Precipice Loop: Rising over 1,000 feet in 0.9 miles, the Precipice Trail requires physical and mental strength. It is a rugged, non-technical climb with open cliff faces and iron rungs. Upon reaching the summit of Champlain Mountain, climbers are rewarded with impressive views. This trail is NOT recommended for small children, people with fear of heights, or during wet weather. Additionally, descending the Precipice trail is dangerous and not advised.
- Please visit Acadia National Park’s website for their Hiking Guide!
- Jesup Path and Hemlock Path Loop: At 1.5 miles round trip, this loop consists of mostly level trails creating a figure-8. The loop runs through stands of white birch and hemlock and into the Great Meadow beyond Sieur de Monts.
- Please visit Acadia National Park’s website for notes on Accessibility and ways to access the park for those with physical/mobility impairments.
Park Loop Road
Driving the Park Loop Road at Acadia National Park allows you to get a feel for the coastal, rocky, sandy shorelines of Maine. While the road is only 27 miles (43 km), you can spend all day driving it because of the many places to see along the way. There is parking along the right side of the Park Loop Road (unless otherwise noted by signage), plus many parking lots along the road, so be careful because it can be quite busy! Places to stop include:
- Sieur de Monts
- Sand Beach
- Otter Point
- Thunder Hole
- Jordan Pond: an iconic view at Acadia! There’s a short walk from the parking lot to the pond’s edge, plus a teahouse that serves popovers.
- Cadillac Mountain (see below!)
At 1,530 feet (466 meters), Cadillac Mountain is the highest point in Acadia National Park and the first place in the US to see the sunrise from October 7 to March 6. You can drive the Summit Road to the top by meandering along scenic views for 3.5 miles, which includes many pull out spots. In order to drive the road, you MUST make reservations HERE if visiting from mid-May into mid-October.
Alternatively, you can hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain via the North Ridge (shorter, 4.4 miles roundtrip) or South Ridge (longer, 7.1 miles roundtrip).
Sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is well worth the stop. It is one of three lights managed by Acadia National Park, as of 2020. Be forewarned, as its popularity also makes it quite congested at sunset.
Acadia National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including around 40 species of mammals, more than 330 species of birds, 30 species of fish, 7 reptiles, and 11 amphibians. Our family spotted a fox while driving the scenic Park Loop Road, thought his tends to be a more rare spotting! Make sure to drive the speed limit and respect wildlife by always keeping your distance.
- By Plane: Direct flights from Boston’s Logan Airport land at the Hancock County Airport, 10 miles from Acadia National Park. National airlines serve the Bangor International Airport, about one hour from the park.
- Cape Air: For an intimate travel experience, I could not recommend flying Cape Air more!! I took a tiny plane from Boston Logan Airport to Bar Harbor, where I was able to SIT NEXT TO THE PILOT. It was also a sunset flight and pure magic!! Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos as pictures were not allowed… buuut, take my word for it (:
- Driving: visit the NPS website for more details!
Once in Acadia National Park, the Island Explorer is a great way to get around! It’s wheelchair accessible, too! From late June through early October, it provides service between park destinations, local communities, and Bar Harbor-Hancock County Regional Airport. Plus… it’s FARE FREE!
- Weather can change quickly from sunny to rainy, so be sure to check the conditions before you go. Visit Acadia’s Weather page for more.
- Keep a map with you, as cell service can be spotty.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles – pack OUT whatever you bring and leave all of nature the way you find it. Learn more HERE.
- Do NOT feed the wildlife and keep your distance. Remember, long distance relationships keep animals happy (:
For more information on Acadia National Park, please visit the website, talk to a Park Ranger, or consult the maps (located here).