Where to stay, hike and eat in Acadia National Park

One of the few places that we return to every few years.  Beautiful scenery, excellent hiking, great food, affordable and dog friendly.

Bass Harbor Sunset

Summary:

1 week in September

Cost: $1200

Must Stay:

AcadiaYurts = https://www.acadiayurts.com/

Must Hike:

  • North Ridge Trail to Cadillac Mountain
  • Precipice Trail (Or Beehive if the falcons are in town)
  • Gorham Mountain
  • Acadia Mountain
  • Beech Mountain
  • South Bubble

Must Eat:

  • Jordan Pond House
  • Café this way
  • Side Street Café
  • Mainely Meat and Atlantic Brewery

Accommodations:

There are a wide variety of options in the Acadia area: downtown Bar Harbor, Hotels, Airbnb, Camping, or Westside vs. Eastside.  Each time we go, we go back and forth on where to stay but we always come to the same conclusion: westside Airbnb (or VRBO). 

Why westside over eastside? The westside is quieter and typically a little cheaper, so you can get more space and a nicer place for your dollar.  While the eastside is closer to most of the activities in Acadia and the restaurants, we have found the 20 minute drive is really not a problem in order to get a nicer place to come back to.  This also gives you the opportunity to explore some of the amazing hiking on the westside that is often overlooked.  Our typical itinerary, is to start our day on the eastside with a large hike, come back for lunch, and then spend the afternoon doing a westside activity. 

Hotel, VRBO/Airbnb, or camping?

Since we go for a full week of hiking, we avoid camping.  After a long day of hiking, it is nice to have a hot shower and a comfy bed, and while I love camping, 7 or 8 days, is a little long for me.  So hotel or an Airbnb?  We always choose an Airbnb for a few reasons:

1. We like to be able to have home cooked food.  We will make a bunch of food before heading up and then have quick eats ready to go.  This helps us save money, gives us flexibility for our day, and helps save our waistlines. 

2.  We have a dog and it is easier to find an Airbnb that will allow our pup.

We have stayed in a few places, all of which I would recommend, but easily our favorite spot was the Acadiayurts.  This was both an experience and a beautiful place to stay.  It is the best of both worlds where you feel connected to nature but still have all the modern amenities with a full kitchen, a real queen size bed, full bathrooms with hot water, internet, heat and air conditioning.  There is no TV, but honestly that was a nice change.

Other places that we’ve stayed:

Hiking in Acadia:

One of my favorite things about Acadia is the diversity of hiking.  You can do very easy walks (Jordan pond loop, Ocean path), moderate hikes (Gorham mtn) or adventure hikes like Precipice trail.    There are hikes that are dog friendly and ones that require both hands and feet.  With 26 peaks to climb, you  can make your hikes as short or as long as you want, stringing peaks together for those more rigorous days and being an island, almost all of the peaks have beautiful ocean views.  This makes Acadia a great place for all nature lovers: big, small, and furry.

One of my favorite examples is a hike we have done multiple times:

Eagle lake trail -> Connors Nubble-> North Bubble -> South Bubble -> Jordan Pond Loop -> Spring Trail -> Jordan Cliffs -> Deer Brook -> Back by Jordan Pond

Each one of these trails can be its own loop or you can string them together for an 8 mile day.  This hike includes some easy trails around both Eagle lake and Jordan pond, as well as iron rungs,  3 different peaks, and a stop for popovers at Jordan Pond House in the middle.  You could even add Pemetic Mtn or Penobscot Mtn, if you wanted to go for some bonus distance and peaks. 

An absolute essential, is to at least try one of the iron rung trails.  It definitely adds an element that makes Acadia unique.  The iron rungs span in difficulty and adventure so if you are afraid of heights, I’d recommend starting with Ladder Trail or Beech Cliffs.  These are a great introduction to the iron rungs without the scary cliff edge views.  As you build up your nerve, there are three that are some of my favorite hikes in Acadia: Precipice (the ultimate of the iron rungs), Jordan Cliffs (great views and less traveled), and the Beehive (most popular and crowded but great views).  All of these trails are not suitable for dogs or small children.

Itinerary:

For us, each day is pretty similar: we go for a “long hike” in the morning (we try for this to be dog friendly to tire out the pup), then we come back to the cabin for lunch, and head back out in the afternoon for one of three activities 1. Shorter hike either not dog friendly or on the westside 2. Shopping and eating in downtown Bar Harbor 3. Bike ride on the carriage trails.  Because each day is pretty similar, I’m just going to list morning activities and afternoon activities that you can mix and match as you please.

Morning:

  1. North Ridge Trail Cadillac Mountain, Gorge Trail to Dorr Mtn, Dorr North Ridge Trail back.
    1. You will want to be here bright and early as parking is limited. 
    1. Gorge trail is a very steep rock scramble for a fun adventure but difficult with a dog (we did it but it was precarious).
    1. We have also summitted Cadillac by South Ridge and Canon Brook, but the views are not comparable to North Ridge.
  2. Beehive, Bowl, Gorham Mountain and Ocean Path
    1. Leave out Beehive if you are afraid of heights or iron rungs
    1. Other than Beehive, this is an excellent dog/kid friendly hike.
  3. Precipice, Champlain North Ridge Trail, Orange and Black, Schoonder Head to Murphy Lane
    1. Make sure you go up Precipice and go on a dry day as the rocks can get slippery.
  4. Dorr Mtn via Ladder Trail and Schiff Pass
    1. This is the easiest of the iron rungs and you get great ocean and ship views on the way down.
  5. Connor Nubble, North Bubble, South Bubble, Jordan Cliffs and Jordan Pond Loop.
    1. If looking for less distance, I’d recommend South bubble to Jordan pond path, stopping for some popovers on your way back. 
    1. If you want less distance but adventure- South Bubble to Jordan Pond Loop to Jordan Cliffs and back.
  6. Swim at Sand Beach and hike Great Head Trail

Afternoon:

  1. Acadia Mountain and St. Sauveur
  2. Beech Mountain- You can add iron rungs by starting at the bottom and doing Beech Mountain Cliffs, or just start at Beech Mountain- Also a great spot for a sunset.
  3. Eagle Lake Carriage Road Bike Ride
  4. Flying Mountain and Valley Peak
  5. Bar Harbor shopping, exploring and eating
  6. Swim at Echo Lake
  7. Visit Southwest Harbor
  8. Wonderland trail and Ship Harbor Trail

Other activities:

  1. Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain- this is well worth the early morning but plan to get there early as parking can be tight.
  2. Sunset at Bass Harbor-  Bass Harbor is much better than Cadillac mountain for sunset.  Be sure to get there early as parking is limited.  To the left of the lighthouse there is a staircase that brings you to your best and iconic views.
  3. Shopping and exploring in downtown Bar Harbor
    1. Watch the boats at Frenchman Bay
    1. Walk across water on the Bar Island Trail around low tide
    1. Get ice cream
    1. Shop at lots of fun stores.
  4. Mainely Meat and Atlantic Brewery- Excellent food and beer for a fun and casual outdoor eating.  It is also dog friendly 😊
  5. Jordan Pond House- You have to stop and get popovers at some point during your visit.  Be sure to sit outside.
  6. Carriage Trails- These are a challenging bike ride.  The Eagle Lake loop is probably the easiest and definitely worth a trip.
  7. Thunder Hole
  8. Otter Cliffs
  9. Little Long Pond near Seal Cove for dog off leash friendly exercise.
  10. Take the ferry and explore Schoodic Peninsula.  We have yet to make it over to Schoodic but it is high on our list.

Places to Eat:

  • The Barnacle
  • Jordan Pond House
  • Café this way
  • Side Street Café
  • Mainely Meat and Atlantic Brewery
  • The Pie Lady (Southwest Harbor)
  • Mother’s Kitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: