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The spectacular beauty of the Maine coastline is present all along the eastern part of the states. However, for an experience both naturally astounding and educational, Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine is a great place to visit. Before doing anything at the park, be sure to stop into the Hull’s Cove Visitor’s Center to check out the scale model of the park, the video tour, or brochures and maps to get you educated and excited for your stay.
Acadia has become a popular destination not only for its ocean views that visitors can enjoy from just about anywhere in the park, but also for its excellent hiking. As a day trip, try hiking Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard at 1532 feet. This moderate hike takes you to the top of the mountain, offering near-panoramic views of the harbor and islands below, as well as the town of Bar Harbor. If hiking that far seems too daunting, drive up the 3.5 mile (5.6 km) paved road that leads to the gift shop at the top. The summit of Cadillac Mountain is a popular destination for early morning visitors anxious to catch the first sunrise in the United States.
While Acadia does not offer much in the way of single track mountain bike trails, the Park Loop Road is a fantastic spin for road cyclists. This 27 mile (43.5 km) paved roadway is the easiest way for both bicycles and motorized vehicles to see most of the sights in the park. You will pass by Jordan Pond and the Jordan Pond House – be sure to stop in for some of their famous Popovers – and countless hiking trails, beaver ponds, and mountain views. Also along the way, you’ll find Thunder Hole, a natural cave that booms and splashes when high tide waves crash into it. Less than a mile after Thunder Hole on the loop road, you will encounter perhaps one of the most recognizable views at Acadia: Otter Cliffs. Be sure to snap a few pictures of the cliffs jutting out into the ocean.
The Carriage Road winds through Acadia National park in a web of over fifty miles. This dirt road gives mountain bikers, hikers, horses and carriages plenty of space to amble through forests, by lakes, and underneath old stone bridges erected with funds from the Rockefeller family. For a moderate loop on the Carriage road, try circling Eagle Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the park. In the winter, strap on your snowshoes or cross country skis and take in a winter landscape far fewer visitors get to see.
When your day at Acadia is coming to a close, camp out at Blackwoods Campground, which is situated only about a hundred yards from the ocean. Alternatively, try Seawall campground a bit farther away from the main attractions of the park near Somes Sound. Or stop into nearby Bar Harbor for a seafood dinner or drinks in one of the many bars and pubs on the narrow downtown streets. A twilight walk along the Ocean Walk right on the harbor is a perfect way to end your day at Acadia National Park.
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