After spending two days in Portland, Maine this summer, I got to spend some time exploring Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. Let me just say upfront that budgeting one full day for Acadia exploration was NOT enough. That being said, you can do it and still have a blast. Here’s how we made the most of one day in Acadia National Park.
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
When soliciting recommendations from friends about what to do in Acadia, this always came up. Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States that sees the sunrise every morning (…sometimes). It’s probably one of the most touristy things to do in the park, but it is totally worth it.
The day we did this, sunrise was slated to happen at 5:54AM. I read that it is advisable to get to the top of the mountain at least an hour before sunrise time to guarantee a parking spot (THIS IS SO TRUE), so we woke up at 3:00AM on July 3 to get ready and jump in my car to drive to the summit. By the time we got there, the parking lot was almost entirely full and when we left, we realized how ridiculously packed it really was. Photos really don’t do it justice, but for what it’s worth, I plan to do the sunrise thing every time I return to Acadia in the future.
Driving Park Loop Road to Sand Beach
By the time we finished up at Cadillac Mountain, it was only about 5:30am. Our next stop was Sand Beach, which is an iconic “where the mountains meet the sea” part of the park. To get there from Cadillac Mountain, we drove around on the Park Loop Road, which passes through a lot of beautiful areas of the park. There are several places to pull over and just take in the amazingly gorgeous surroundings. The photo below is literally just from a pull-off on the side of the road.
I was about to type that Sand Beach was my favorite place in Acadia National Park, but then I realized that I could make a similar statement about pretty much everything I saw in Acadia. It was still really early in the morning (like 6:00am maybe), so the beach was pretty much deserted and we could just stand there and take it all in. I loved seeing the beach up against the rocks and trees.
Hiking the Beehive Trail
After spending a few more minutes at Sand Beach, we got ready to do our one (and sadly only) hike for the day – the Beehive Trail. This was another thing that came highly recommended. It was appealing to us because it’s relatively short so it wouldn’t take up too much time but it has some amazing views and also sections where you’re essentially climbing straight up the side of the mountain. Most of the hike is more or less vertical.
The Beehive is right behind Sand Beach, which made parking in the Sand Beach parking lot and walking over to the trail super convenient. In several of the photos below, you can actually see Sand Beach from the top of the mountain!
The trail starts out pretty normally – lots of rocks and just a tiny bit of climbing. It’s not too long before you get your first nice view!
These photos show some the metal bars placed in the side of the mountain to facilitate climbing. This trail is definitely not for those who are afraid of heights or have a habit of looking down behind them while climbing.
After finishing the hike, it was still only about 7:30AM and we were starving and exhausted, so we drove over to Bar Harbor to grab some breakfast and followed breakfast with a little bit of shopping and a whole lot of napping. More on that part of the trip coming to another post soon!
Have you been to Acadia National Park? What did I miss out on? I am always building my to-do list for next time!