Acadia National Park for 34 Hours

This post is written by Katie about her 34 hours in Acadia National Park shortly after the 2016 RoboCup US Open in Brunswick, ME.

I’ve considered visiting Acadia National Park each year I’ve attended the RoboCup US Open in Maine. Since this might be my last year attending the RoboCup US Open, I finally pulled the trigger and went – and have absolutely no regrets.

I drove mostly along coastal 1 to Acadia on Sunday afternoon after dropping off the rest of my team at the Portland airport. My phone did not have data throughout most of my time in Maine, so I ended up taking a suboptimal route and arriving in Bar Harbor after dark.

Traffic was pretty rough heading north from Portland

Luckily I found free wifi on the Bar Harbor Village Green. I used this wifi to obtain directions to Acadia’s Blackwoods Campground (about 12 minutes away).

Blackwoods campground was technically closed until May 1, but half of the A loop was open for $15/night self-registration. I went and set up at A23 and then walked back to the self-registration kiosk. I was pleasantly surprised to find you could pay by filling out a credit card slip!

My A23 campsite in Acadia’s Blackwoods Campground

The campground was about 1/6 full and everyone was keeping to themselves. I ate some garlic naan for dinner and called it a night.

I allowed myself to sleep in after getting relatively little sleep during our Kuala Lumpur mileage run and the RoboCup US Open. As such, I did not get up until 9am.

Coastline just outside the Blackwoods Campground

I finished the garlic naan for breakfast and then drove to Sieur de Monts. I had hoped there was be a visitor center there, but there wasn’t. I went on the nice boardwalk trail before hopping onto the Park Loop Road.

Boardwalk trail at Sieur de Monts

My first notable stop was Sand Beach. I walked on the beach, and then opted to do the Beehive Loop trail.

Beehive Loop with Sand Beach in the background
Bridge on the Beehive Loop trail
I made it to the summit of the Beehive

The Beehive Loop trail was a fun yet moderately strenuous trail with steep ladders on the uphill sections. The second half of the trail passed by a beautiful lake named ‘The Bowl’. I only saw one pair of people on this trail and I’m glad I chose it.

The Bowl lake after the summit of the Beehive

My next stop was at the Thunder Hole. Apparently water getting trapped in a cave makes a thundering sound at high tide. I visited at low tide though, so it was rather anti-climatic.

I also stopped at Jordan Pond House. Normally there is a restaurant and shop here – and I would have enjoyed some tea and popovers – but both open May 1. I enjoyed a nice walk along the side of Jordan Pond. There is a trail around the entire lake, which would probably be really nice given more time.

The trail around Jordan Pond

I drove a somewhat long drive to the other half of Acadia. My first stop was the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. There was not much to see or do here though, which was disappointing.

Coast on the Ship Harbor trail

I drove a short way down 1A to the Ship Harbor trail. This double loop trail seemed popular with families and their dogs, and I really enjoyed the coastal scenery, board walks, and forest.

My next stop was at the Seawall Picnic area. There was not much to see here, so I moved onward quickly.

I wanted to watch the 7:30pm sunset at Cadillac Mountain. I reached the summit at 6:45pm and did the easy summit loop walk, but did not see a good sunset view. A sign mentioned that sunsets are best from Blue Hill Overlook – just a 2 minute drive from the summit – so I hopped in my car and drove there.

Sunset on Cadillac Mountain

I arrived at Blue Hill Overlook just in time to enjoy the entire sunset! It was indeed pretty magical.

After sunset, I drove into Bar Harbor to use the free Village Green wifi and pick up some more garlic naan and cold medicine.

I then returned to the campground, which was very quiet. I ate some naan and then walked down the Ocean Path to see the stars.

Once at the viewpoint on the ocean cliffs, I walked away from the viewpoint a bit and found a place to lay on the cliffs and enjoy the stars. This might be one of my best outdoor experiences yet as it was a great place to just relax and contemplate life. Time flew while I was laying and watching the stars – and I somehow forgot about the cold. I ended up making my way back to my tent around midnight!

It was a colder night than the first, but I generally stayed warm although my feet were cold in the morning when my FitBit woke me at 6:15am.

I quickly packed up my tent and drove to the 24hr coin-operated showers just outside the campground. The facility had change machines (accepting $1, $5, $10, and old $20) and clean showers. There was no option to buy/rent towels or toiletries, but luckily I had my own. The showers cost $2 per 4 minutes. Although the sign said hot water took 7 seconds to start, it took 4 minutes (aka $2) for me. I did feel a lot better after showering though, especially with the long travel day ahead of me.

Snow flurries began on my drive back to Portland

It took me about 4 hours to drive from Acadia National Park to the Portland Jetport – partially because half of this drive was in an ever-worsening snow storm! It was pretty epic to drive through the snow flurries and watch snow began to accumulate just off the road.

Acadia was beautiful and gave me some valuable alone time to decompress. The lakes, coast, forest, and stars were awesome. The Beehive hike with ladders was exhilarating and felt uniquely Acadia. It was peaceful visiting in shoulder season without the crowds!

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