Monday, June 27, 2016

Tips on Navigating Acadia National Park

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Welcome back my Beauties.
As promised a few weeks ago (before I lost my internet for a week)
I am here to share some tips from our trip to Acadia National Park, one of the most Beautiful National parks.
We leave for our Montana hiking trip in a few days and figured I had better get this one out before we leave for the next one.
If you are not a hiker but love BEAUTIFUL places then you can follow along as well.
Firs off...the deets about Acadia!
Acadia National Park has the honor of being the first national park east of the Mississippi River. On July 8, 1916, the park was made a national monument called Sieur de Monts National Monument. Several years later, on February 26, 1919, the park was made a national park and rename Lafayette National Park. It became known as Acadia National Park on January 19, 1929.

The park is 35,332 acres large however, an additional 12,416 acres of privately owned land are under conservation easements managed by the National Park Service. There is over 125 miles of hiking trails.
Because of the way the park is set up, the number one issue Acadia has is traffic.
The park itself goes in and out of national park and private property.

 On our first day in Bar Harbor, Maine; while walking around town exploring all the new sites 
we started talking to some of the other visitors. Luckily both the hubby and I are chatty people 
and we find it easy to find people to talk to.
We happened to be in a store and a fellow traveler heard us talking.
Apparently she recognized the accent...(we are from Michigan) :)
She too had been born in Michigan and we quickly struck up a conversation.
Her husband was from South Africa and they had come back with their kids to camp at Acadia.
He quickly told us all the things we needed to see and do in Acadia.
But most of all he told us about the traffic. 
He was adamant that we check out the bus system they had for Acadia.
  So my number 1 tip is to use this baby!

Through a partnership with Friends of Acadia, L.L. Bean has helped preserve the beauty of Acadia National Park. Since 2002, L.L.Bean has contributed more than $3.25 million to help protect Acadia by supporting the Island Explorer bus system, a fleet of over 30 clean, propane-powered buses.
 The Island Explorer features eight bus routes linking hotels, inns, and campgrounds with destinations in Acadia National Park and neighboring village centers.
     Clean propane-powered vehicles offer Mount Desert Island visitors and residents free transportation to hiking trails, carriage roads, island beaches, and in-town shops and restaurants.
I am not telling you this to sell you anything or for any sort of sponsorship or affiliate.
I just want people to know that their are still companies out there doing GOOD THINGS for the national parks. 
 Here are my kiddos ready for another hike in Acadia!

You see, had we not been told about the bus, we would have been in THIS!
 When it comes to traffic and parking, Acadia is suffering from its own popularity, and many visitors   including us had no idea there was a free bus system for the park.
Thankfully we had run into that first couple on our first night in town and we quickly studied our bus routes and worked out a plan for what parts of the park we would hike each day.

 One of our first real hikes of this trip was the BeeHive trail.
Our bus dropped us off near Sand beach and we started on our trail.
Now we have hiked in the Rocky Mountains many times and the San Juan National Forest including Engineer Mountain. They have elevations in the thousands.
The BeeHive trail is just over 500 feet...
I will admit that I didn't think many of Acadia's hikes were going to be Strenuous!
Boy was I wrong!
Our first hike was intense.
The Beehive Trail (as it is called) is rated as “Strenuous” and is approximately 0.8 miles/1.3 km long. Hiking is through woods to exposed cliffs and there are iron rungs on the ledges.
You can see from the above picture that 500 feet may not seem that high, but when you are standing on a cliff IS!
My 2nd tip is to bring PLENTY of WATER.
Luckily, even though I had been a bit cocky about how hard hiking would be here, I still came prepared. All of us had our Camel Back Hydro packs and were properly hydrated the whole time.

This is the view from the top of the BeeHive trail.
not only is the traffic congested on the roads but the BeeHive trail is one of the most POPULAR trails at the Park. It has one way traffic on the trail up..You have to take the back trail back down since you line up to climb this trail.
There is also the PRECIPICE but that was closed due to the endangered peregrine falcons nesting.
I have to tell you, after hanging cliff side on the 500 foot ledge, I was good with missing the 1000 foot vertical climb.  :)
But you can see from this view that the 500 foot climb was worth walking over those metal rungs stuck out of the side of the cliff for :)

My  3rd  is to be PATIENT
Acadia is BEAUTIFUL and POPULAR..there is a reason everyone wants to come here.
So just have a little patience. I know I am thankful for the awesome patient fellow who was in front of our family and heard my son freaking out a bit about the height and offered to walk behind me and my son while my husband led our pack up the mountain. He took time to reassure my son we were "COOL" and it would be worth it.
He was right and we remembered that for the rest of the weeks on our hikes..
Whats the rush?? 


 For our second day in Acadia we chose the Jordon Pond hike first.
This is a HUGELY popular spot, for good reason.
Its an easy hike around the "POND" and they have a very popular restaurant on site.
Its very touristy if you stay up by the Gift shop and restaurant.
But once you start hiking around the pond you find that there isn't a bad view and that many of those tourists just come to sit on the lawn and look out at the bubble mountains.

My 4th  tip.... BRING a REAL CAMERA! 
I snapped plenty of pics with my phone but nothing does justice to this gorgeous scenery like a good quality camera. I wore that baby around my neck and I think I took over 700 pictures during the week. When you are surrounded by this kind of beauty its hard not to take pictures.

Since our first hike of the day was flat and very easy we decided to hike the
Pemetic Mountain Loop trail Summit.

 “Pemetic” was the word that early Native Americans used to describe the whole island - “the sloping land.”
 The 2.4 mile (3.8 km) Pemetic Mountain Loop Trail will take you to the open granite summit. Designated as Strenuous or Advanced because of the steep grades and many steady climbs, it is not for everyone.  But if you are a seasoned and hardy hiker, the trek is well worth it for the views alone which include Bubble Pond, Jordan Pond, several area mountains, and the many southern out islands such as Little and Great Cranberry Islands. The main access points for the trail are from Bubble Pond, Bubble Mountains parking area, and from Jordan Pond north side parking lot.
My kids did this hike and while their were silent times where we were all concentrating on climbing..the kind of climbing I call ass and elbow climhbing because thats all you see ahead of you..
 now do you see what I am talking about???

The reviews from the kids at the top were 5 star!
It kicked our butts but when we got up there we had the place to ourselves.
You can see by the view in the above WHY! 

 This is my oldest as we climbed up Pemetic. This was about 3/4s of the way up. 
Once we reached this point this was the easiest part of the hike since it became more smooth rock as opposed to the jagged climbing we had been doing.

You will be kicking your toes CONSTANTLY on jagged granite as you climb and hike,
regular old tennis shoes do NOT have the protection for the amount of times you will catch a rock with your toe. 
Also if you have weak ankles like my daughter I would suggest ankle boots and maybe even a brace.
While the hiking UP is hard, traveling back DOWN you will come upon many roots and its really easy to twist your ankle. 
Again use patience and watch where you are going and you should be fine.

The last few days of our trip we did multiple other hikes and had again the most beautiful and gorgeous views.
But in order to show you something different I will show you one our kids Favorite things to do in Acadia. The Bar Island Hike.
 Bar Harbor is connected to Bar Island via a sand bar that, during low tide, emerges to reveal an easily navigable passageway.  For about an hour and a half on each side of the low tide point, people can walk .8 mile to Bar Island’s high point of 120 feet above sea level. 
Once on the island, the trail gradually ascends through the forest on an old road. At the next  junction, bearing right leads to an old home site with a view of Bar Harbor. Bearing left, the trail gradually ascends to the highest point and provides another view of Bar Harbor. Time your hike carefully for exploring the uninhabited island. Be aware that the timing of low tide changes by approximately 50 minutes each day, so you should find a tide chart and follow it carefully.
We all loved to do this hike after the strenuous hikes because first of all you are CUTTING through the Mt Dessert Narrows that just happens to be at low tide and you have that RUSH knowing you have to beat the tide to make it back across.  (sounds like some sort of Pirate story doesn't it? :))

This is the view you get for making the quick trek up to the top of bar island.
You get to look back at Bar Harbor and see all the cruise ships waiting in port. 
Before I forget my 5th tip...Bring LOTS of Sun Block and Bug Spray.
I wouldn't be doing my proper job as a Mom if I didn't tell you to bring this.
You will be hiking through lots of brush, but also be at a slightly higher altitude so you tend to burn quicker. No point in ruining your vacation with some sun burn and lots of bug bites. 
How fun would that be? 
SO those are my Condensed tips for Navigating Acadia!
My best tip though is to just have FUN! 
You are surrounded by so much Beauty and Natural it would be hard not to. 
I know for myself, I can't wait to go back. 
I can't even imagine what this place looks like in the fall or winter or spring. 
Hopefully someday I will have the chance to find out.  
I hope you enjoyed this post!
I wish I could have included all 700 pictures but I think the internet might explode! :)

 The park does have an entrance fee of $25. This can be paid at the Hull's Cove Visitor Center or at the drive in check point on the park loop road. The $25 pass is good for 7 consecutive days.