Acadia National Park
This short trip to Acadia will always be one of our all time favorite vacations. It was the first time we camped in a park, Logan's first real hike, and we got to do it all during the National Park Service's Centennial Celebration. We actually got to celebrate the 100th birthday of the NPS atop of Cadillac Mountain at sunrise! For a lifetime lover of the National Parks, being one of the first people in the US to see the sun come up over the horizon on that day was so special. In total we only spent about 48 hours in the park, but were able to do so much and really feel like we were on a longer adventure.
On day one we arrived pretty early in the afternoon and set up camp. We stayed inside the park itself, at Seawall Campground which is located in Southwest Harbor on the west side of Mount Desert Island. After unloading our gear, we set out to explore the seawall coastline. Lucky for us it was low tide which allowed for sea creature hunting within the tidal pools. That same evening we attended a star gazing program led by one of the Park Rangers. Unfortunately after a long day, our little man was overtired and we could not stay for the entire program - instead we took a quick drive down to the beach, wished upon the stars we saw up in the Milky Way, and said Good Night.
For day two we got a pretty early start and headed to the visitor center to watch the multimedia presentation and make a final decision on which hike we wanted to tackle. We decided to hike the family friendly Bubble Rock Trail, and based on the advice from a ranger, we left our car at the visitor center and hopped on the Island Explorer. The Island Explorer is a private bus service that runs on eco-friendly propane and hits all of the popular locations within the park. The park was a little crowded due to the centennial celebrations so the bus was the best way to get to the trail heads and forego any traffic or parking hassles. We had not fully finished planning our daily adventure when the Island Explorer showed up at the visitor center, so we hopped on without really checking the map properly. What this meant was that we got off the bus at the Bubble Pond stop, instead of the Bubble Rock trail head. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, but it took us almost 45 minutes to figure out where we were, where to head, and that taking the trail less traveled was a much better experience. From Bubble Pond we headed down one of the old carriage trails and Stew ended up spotting another trail that meandered into the woods. We started off down this one, which we later discovered was named the Carry Trail and eventually joined up with the Bubble Rock Trail we had originally been looking for. We did not see a single person on the first half of the hike and got to take our time and enjoy the forest. Once we intersected with the Bubble Rock trail however, the trail was packed!! We were pretty tired by this point, as the mistake with the bus stop doubled our planned mileage. We trudged on, with a promise to Logan that a picnic lunch would be at the summit. The views at the top were beautiful and we managed to find a little spot in the shade of the sun to enjoy our picnic before posing for the standard "try and push Bubble Rock over the cliff" photos.
Since we had gotten such an early start to the day, there was still plenty of time to relax back at the campsite before venturing out to Bass Harbor Lighthouse and tracking down a scoop of wild Maine blueberry ice cream (a MUST if you have never had it).
We had planned the timeline of our trip to allow us to be in the park on August 25, 2016, the actual day of the NPS Centennial and we were so grateful that there were clear skies. This allowed us to be able to get up before the sunrise and headed up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to experience the sunrise. Since this was our first camping trip there were a few hiccups here and there with what gear we did or did not need, but I was thankful we grabbed a nice warm blanket to snuggle in at the top of the mountain as it was quite windy and chilly. After some breakfast in Bar Harbor, we took the Park Loop Road through the park and hit up a few other park highlights before heading back towards home. A quick stop at Thunder Hole (which was not thundering) and blueberry picking at the shore of Jordan Pond rounded our stay in Acadia National Park.
OUR PARK HIGHLIGHTS/RECOMMENDATIONS:
Find a less popular trail to hike on so you can appreciate the wilderness.
Sit in the adirondack chairs on the lawn of Jordan Pond House and relax in the sunshine.
Forget how tired you are and get up early anyways to view the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain.