I’ve really been making a conscious effort to travel more and try to experience as much as I can in my 20s. My most recent adventure was a trip up to Maine- hiking in Acadia National Park for 4 days. To say that it was absolutely breathtaking is an understatement. Being immersed in nature and experiencing the beauty of Earth in a new place was so needed.
Myself, my boyfriend and our two friends, Eddie and Mae, rented an AirBnB in Hancock, ME – about 40 minutes from the main park entrance in Bar Harbor. We rented a cozy little cabin in the woods, tucked away in the trees, surrounded by beautiful fall foliage, wildlife and a short walk down a dirt road to Frenchman’s Bay. We couldn’t have picked a better spot to relax at in the evenings with a roaring fire, after hiking for 8 hours a day.
We started off our trip strong, with the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain. What makes this so special is not only the breathtaking views from one of the highest peaks in Acadia, but that it is the first place the sun rises in the U.S.
If you go in the fall, I highly recommend dressing for Winter. Once we were on the peak of the mountain waiting for the sun, it was about 35 degrees and windy. Proper cold weather gear definitely made it even more enjoyable. We were up and out of our cabin at 5:00 a.m. and arrived at the mountain at 5:45 a.m., about an hour before sunrise. We recommend getting there early so you can get a good viewing spot and ensure a parking space. Getting there early also gives you the opportunity watch the sky slowly change colors. The sun rose out of the horizon over the ocean and lit up the trees orange, making the water look ice blue and the mountains purple. The colors alone were absolutely stunning.
After the sun fully rose, we left the mountain at about 7:00 a.m. and headed into Bar Harbor for some breakfast. We ate at Jeanine’s Great Maine Breakfast right on Cottage Street. Needless to say it was so good that we ate there one more time before heading home. Their stuffed French Toast was out of this world! This spot is usually pretty crowded, so expect significant wait times if you get there at peak breakfast time (8:00-11:00 a.m.), as they don’t take reservations. The wait is definitely worth it, so I recommend toughing it out.
After breakfast we headed right to the park for our first day of hiking. We opted to take some easier trails due to fact that we were up before sunrise. We visited Sand Beach first and took it all in. It was surreal being on the beach in the cold, as I usually associate the beach with summer time. But there was something so peaceful about the calm ocean waves and the cold salty air on a crisp fall morning.
I recommend stopping by Sand Beach first thing in the morning. This is a very popular spot in the park and can be very crowded by mid-day. Going early in the morning gives you the chance to have the beach all to yourselves.
After we walked along the shore, we headed for the Ocean Path trail. I highly recommend starting off your trip to Acadia with this hike. The trail starts right near the Sand Beach parking lot, it’s easily marked so it was not hard to find. The trail was not at all strenuous and gives you the opportunity to walk all along the coastline of the park. It’s about a 4 mile out and back trail, that gives you rocky cliffs, ocean views and forest shade.
Once we finished our first trek, we hopped back in the car and drove over to Jordan Pond for our second and last hike of the day. Jordan Pond was absolutely breathtaking. The water was so still, and the pond itself is surrounded by beautiful mountains and trees. The 4 mile full loop trail wraps around the outer perimeter of the pond. This was not a strenuous trail either, and is good to do at all skill levels. I recommend doing the trail counterclockwise.
After about 10 miles of hiking on our first day we were exhausted. We headed back into Bar Harbor for some celebratory first day beers at Atlantic Brewing Company, also on Cottage Street. We all know that Maine is famous for their lobster, but did you know that they also are famous for their blueberries? Atlantic Brewing Co. brews an amazing blueberry beer, that I highly recommend trying! Their food options were pretty delicious too. The truffle fries were to die for.
Once we arrived back at the cabin we lit the fire and passed out. I guess you could say the first day wore us out.
The next morning we headed into the park around 8:30 a.m. and decided we would hike the Beehive Trail. Fair warning, do NOT do this trail if you have an overwhelming fear of heights. There are multiple parts of this hike where you are exposed cliffside and see large drops. However, don’t let this scare you because the views were 100 percent worth the climb.
This hike was pretty difficult, however it was only about 1.5 miles to the peak. There were metal rungs and ladders to help you climb up the cliffside. I recommend going slow and carefully watching your steps and footing. Also make sure you have the proper boots and gear.
For those afraid of heights, or who want an easier hike there is an alternate route to get to the summit of Beehive. The trail splits after you hike up the first part of the trail, you’ll come to the Warning Sign (shown in my above photos), if you want the difficult hike stay to the right, if you want the easier hike stay toward the left. The easier hike takes you through a more wooded path and you are not exposed cliffside. Once you come down from summit you have to take that easier trail back down the mountain for safety reasons.
The Beehive Trail connects to Gorham Mountain, another beautiful hike that I highly recommend. The views from this summit give you a totally different perspective than Beehive. Plus, you are deep in the woods for this trail and get to take in wildlife, fall foliage and ancient rock formations.
These two trails combined (since they essentially flow into each other) were about 5 miles. The trailhead for Gorham starts on the descending trail for Beehive. It’s clearly marked so you can’t miss it. There is also a parking lot for Gorham Mountain if you choose to do that trail separately.
We wrapped up our second day with our final hike, Great Head. This trail was especially interesting because it’s less traveled, more wooded and gives you stunning views of the ocean at the summit. This trail was not difficult, and was about 2 miles total. The trailhead for Great Head starts at the opposite side of Sand Beach.
On our third day we did a hike that was far less trafficked than the other 5 trails we had done. The reason being that these two trails are in the Mount Desert portion of the park. The St. Sauveur and Acadia Mountain trails have a specific parking lot and can be easily accessed from the main road. These trails were a total of 7 miles, combined with 2 mountain peaks, rock climbing and scrambles, as well as 360 degree views from the summits. This took us about 5 hours to do. Granted we stopped for lunch and water breaks pretty frequently, as this trail was fairly difficult. I recommend starting the trail at the St. Sauveur marker, this is a much safer route due to rock scrambles.
After we finished and were absolutely exhausted, we got ready and headed into Bar Harbor for dinner. We ate at the Chart Room, a charming little spot right on the ocean. I got the Lazy Man’s lobster drowned in garlic butter – I know everyone says it but trust me, no lobster can even compare to Maine Lobster. It was amazing!
Our last hike of the trip was the Jordan Pond Trail to the South Bubble Mountain Summit. I highly recommend doing this trail counterclockwise, and starting counterclockwise on the Jordan Pond Path. About 1.5 miles into the Jordan Pond path you will see the trailhead marker for Bubbles Divide. Take that all the way up the mountain, and make sure you go slow and watch your footing. This is a very rocky trail that requires climbing and scrambles. Once you’re at the summit check out Bubble Rock. This huge rock was placed on the edge of the cliffside by glacial receding 2.5 million years ago! It looks like it could fall off any minute, so it makes for a funny picture. The total for this loop trail was 4 miles.
The views of Jordan Pond and the ocean from Bubble Summit were breathtaking. This was a perfect hike to finish out the trip. We drove through the park and said our goodbyes before getting our final meal in Maine.
We stopped at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound on our way back to our AirBnB. This is a family owned lobster shack where you can buy fully live or boiled lobsters, lobsters sandwiches/rolls, and all sorts of other goodies. Dillon and I each got a lobster roll (cold), lobster stew & clam chowder, crab dip & crackers and each a slice of blueberry pie for dessert. To say we were stuffed was an understatement! If you ever find yourself near Hancock I highly recommend stopping there for some authentic Maine specialities.
A few other notes:
Time of year – Going to Acadia in the fall was perfect, weather wise it was just cool enough where you were comfortable to hike in a long sleeve and light jacket. However, be sure to bring layers and colder weather items, as weather on the coast can be unpredictable. The key to autumn hiking is layers.
You also were privy to the beautiful fall foliage which is unmatched in the Northeast. Crowds were significantly less than what they are in the summer time, according to the locals. This made all of the hikes feel like we were the only ones on the mountains.
Gear – When going on a hiking trip, it’s important to make sure you have the right gear and equipment. I highly recommend purchasing real hiking boots before making the trip to Acadia. I have Timberland hiking boots and they were extremely comfortable. Boots give you ankle support when climbing over rocks and scrambles. Sneakers are not supportive enough for more extensive hikes.
Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks on the hikes. Carrying a lightweight backpack with plenty of storage is key. I use a North Face Borealis backpack. This had plenty of pockets to store my extra layers I didn’t need, as well as water bottles, snacks and anything else I needed to bring with me.
Hiking pants and wool socks are also a necessity. Hiking pants are not only necessary for warmth, but most of them come with extra cushion on your knees, which help prevent injury or scrapes when you are climbing up rocks. Wool socks are also key to keeping your feet warm and dry; they also prevent any rubbing on your ankles from hiking boots.
Travel time- From the Hudson Valley, NY it was about 7.5 hours to Hancock, ME. Prepare yourself for a long ride, make sure you have snacks, water and take turns driving. I recommend leaving very early in the morning to avoid any sort of mid-day traffic.
All in all if Maine hasn’t been on your list of travel destinations I highly recommend adding it. Acadia was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I truly cannot wait until I get to be back there again someday.
I made a TikTok vlog of our trip below, feel free to check it out!