Government Shutdown of Acadia National Park: It Won’t Spoil Your Trip to Maine

 travel  Comments Off on Government Shutdown of Acadia National Park: It Won’t Spoil Your Trip to Maine
Oct 012013
 
Acadia Mountain

The view from Acadia Mountain, access to which is not affected by the national park closure.

The government closure of national parks, effective October 1, 2013, has affected thousands of visitors looking forward to seeing Acadia National Park this fall.  With National Park webpages also shutdown, official information is limited.  However, local experts have stepped in to share the latest information on such social media sites as TripAdvisor, where postings under “Contingency Plans” in the Bar Harbor forum are filling the gaps for worried travelers.

The Park Loop Road has been closed, thereby barring roadway access to such popular attractions as Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond House. The Hulls Cove Visitors Center is also closed.

That’s the bad news.  On the other hand, the Island Explorer bus system is running and ferrying visitors throughout the island.  In addition, as Acadia National Park Deputy Superintendent Len Bobinchock told the Portland Press Herald, “You can’t lock up trails, but you can close the roads that lead into the park.”  Because skeletal crews are not adequate to handle extensive search and rescue operations in the case of emergencies, the National Park Service is asking people to stay off the park’s trails until the shutdown is over.  However, they are not requiring people to leave, it seems.  If you do decide to hike, exercise good judgment.

Acadia National Park occupies only about one half of Mount Desert Island.  The sublime beauty of this area far surpasses any single mountain or pond, and a government closure of the national park won’t lock you out of enjoying a trip to Downeast Maine.

Here are 7 ways you can enjoy Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, despite Congress.

  1. Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain.  And, in fact, with no tourist buses circumnavigating the top, the summit may be just that much more peaceful.  There are trails from all four points of the compass, but the easiest to access during the closure is to the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, a long, but gradual climb 3.7 miles each way.  The trailhead is on Route 3, just south of the entrance to Blackwoods Campground.  It is a lovely hike, with spectacular views, just be prepared for the 7.4 miles of hiking and remember, of course, that you are hiking at your own risk.
  2. Choose another mountain to climb.  If you are not up for such a long hike, there are many other alternatives.  Consider Acadia Mountain, with its great views of Somes Sound and the Atlantic beyond.  Its trailhead is on Route 102 between Somesville and Southwest Harbor.  A moderate loop including both Acadia and neighboring St. Sauveur Mountain is 4.2 miles.  Another great choice is Beech Mountain.  There are also several different trails to its summit—none of which is affected by park closures.  Tom St. Germain’s excellent hiking guide, available in bookstores throughout Bar Harbor, can provide you with all of the details.
  3. Bike around Eagle Lake.  The carriage roads around the lake are just off Eagle Lake Road/Route 233.  According to the TripAdvisor posts on October 1st, cars were lined up along the roadway, indicating that the carriage roads were still open.  These carriage roads connect to others in the network, including the road that runs closely along Bubble Pond, with Cadillac Pond towering above.  The reflections of the colorful foliage of the West Face on Bubble Pond are compelling for any photographer.  Walking around Eagle Lake is also a good option. 
  4. Go sea kayaking.  “They can’t control the water, so we’ll still be open” was the message of Mark Fletcher at Aquaterra Adventures in Bar Harbor.  This operator of group kayaking tours launches from a private dock on West Street, so there’s no need to worry about park closures.  Another option is National Park Sea Kayak, also in Bar Harbor, which leads tours on the western side of Mount Desert Island, including popular sunset trips. 
  5. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride.  Although the national park concession at Wildwood Stables will be closed, you can enjoy a carriage ride throughout Bar Harbor with Wild Iris Horse Farm.  The driver discusses points of interest, as well as the history of the town.  Says owner Sandi Read, “It’s a great way to experience Bar Harbor the way it was before the days of automobiles.”
  6. Visit Bass Harbor.  Although the roadway to Bass Harbor Head Light has been barricaded, you can walk a short distance to see this lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Then drive the short distance down to the harbor.  A stroll around this working lobster harbor in late afternoon is full of charms.  Walk along the shoreline and down on the pier.  Whether it’s a skiff, a pile of lobster traps, some worn-out buoys, or a Boston whaler, the scene is iconic Maine and stunningly beautiful in late-afternoon golden light.  Don’t forget your camera.
  7. Enjoy Mount Desert Island’s villages.  From Bar Harbor to Bass Harbor and Northeast Harbor to Southwest Harbor, each has its own personality.  Don’t miss Somesville, in the center of the island, with its charming Japanese-style bridge, one of the most photographed spots in Maine. 

You’ll find more tips for fall trips to Acadia here.  Have a great vacation!

Related Stories:

A Profile of Mount Desert Island’s Villages

Lighthouses and Lobster Boats on a Sunset Sail from Southwest Harbor

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast

Pemetic Mountain in Acadia National Park: A Hike that Has It All

 travel  Comments Off on Pemetic Mountain in Acadia National Park: A Hike that Has It All
Jul 212013
 

What’s your favorite kind of hike?  A stroll alongside a pond?  A heart-pumping scramble across boulders?  An exciting squeeze through a narrow ravine?  Anything that provides the reward of spectacular views?

Hiking the west side of Pemetic Mountain provides all of these and more.

At 1,248 feet, Pemetic Mountain is only about 300 feet shorter than Cadillac, Mount Desert Island’s highest peak and star attraction for visitors to Acadia National Park.  Yet, unlike Cadillac, which is to its east, Pemetic has no tour buses obscuring the views and offers an exceptionally varied hike to its summit.

Jordan Pond The Bubbles

We started the 4.6 mile loop from the Jordan Pond House, warming up on the pleasant, well-traveled path along the eastern shore of Jordan Pond with the Bubbles in the distance.  We crossed a flat stone bridge, passing a vigorous junior hiker, then a wood foot bridge.

Jordan Pond Trail Acadia National Park

The Jordan Pond Carry Trail brought us to the Park Loop Road, where we entered the woods and started the challenging scramble across a boulder field.

Pemetic  Mountain West Side

We then came to a signpost, offering the option to hike through a ravine or across the steep, smooth granite to the right.  Even though it was wet, we opted for the ravine.  (This was not my first time through this ravine, so we had prepared with good mosquito repellant!)

Ravine Pemetic Mountain Acadia National Park

The ravine is not as tight as the popular Lemon Squeeze in New York’s Hudson Valley.  It has two sections, each of which you emerge from by climbing a large wooden ladder.  I think it is really fun.

Ravine Pemetic Mountain

At the summit you first get breathtaking views of deep, steel-blue Jordan Pond.

Jordan Pond from Pemetic Mountain Acadia National Park

More spectacular views of the Cranberry Isles follow as you traverse the mountain and start your descent along the southern ridge.

Pemetic Mountain Cranberry Islands Acadia National Park

I highly recommend hiking with a detailed trail map, such as the one of Acadia published by Map Adventures.  I never leave home without it.  Acadia’s trails are much trickier than you think, even if you have prepared by studying a trail guide.

One other thing that makes a hike a favorite of mine: a stretch of trail covered by a cushion of pine needles.  It’s a great way to end a challenging hike.  And this trail had that, too.

Pemetic Mountain Acadia National Park

 

Related Stories:

Five Favorite Hikes in Acadia National Park

Four Hikes in Acadia Your Kids Will Love

If You Want to Hike Cadillac Mountain, Go in the Fall

Best Hikes in Acadia: Jordan Cliffs and Penobscot South Ridge Loop

 

Mar 242013
 

Thinking of visiting Acadia National Park this summer?  It’s the star attraction of Mount Desert Island, an island about the same size as Martha’s Vineyard, but with 24 mountain peaks.  That alone expands the roster of great things to do there.

Acadia became a national park in 1919, but the first village on Mount Desert Island was founded in 1761.  Today Acadia’s boundaries are intermingled with the charming, postcard-perfect villages of this New England island, adding even more activities to engage park visitors.

So, what activities should you plan to include in your visit?  Here are some favorite things to do both in and around the park.

1.  Watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. At some 1500 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the first place from which to witness dawn in the United States, and it is breathtaking. Make sure you wear a warm fleece even if it’s August.

Cadillac Sunrise

2.  Drive the Park Loop Road. You can get your best overview of Acadia by driving these 27 miles of unsurpassed beauty, created in part through the masterful collaboration of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. There are many lookouts so have your camera ready.

3.  Eat lobster. Whether you want a lobster roll, lobster stew, or a two-pounder steamed, you can find a wide range of topnotch restaurants, harbor side lobster pounds, and quaint cafes to serve you. Our favorite is Thurston’s in Bass Harbor.

4.  Go biking. Thanks to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Acadia offers 45 miles of car-free carriage roads that will lead you around mountains, alongside lakes, and into serene boreal forests.  Visit Hull’s Cove Visitor Center first, just outside of downtown Bar Harbor, where there is plentiful parking and good advice about the best bike routes for you and your family. I love their 3D map.

5.  Stroll, hike, or climb. The park boasts 125 miles of well-maintained hiking trails that appeal to all levels of fitness. The most exciting trails, such as the Precipice and Jordan Cliffs, feature rungs and ladders. A beautiful, moderately challenging hike is Acadia Mountain, overlooking Somes Sound, the only fiord in North America. If you’re looking for easier strolls, consider Asticou Trail and Wonderland – they’re lovely.

Hiking The Bubbles

6.  Have popovers at Jordan Pond House. Select a biking or hiking route that stems from behind Jordan Pond House so that you can conclude your afternoon with lemonade or tea – and, most certainly, popovers — on the lawn looking towards the Bubbles, a sight that has mesmerized visitors at teatime since 1896. It’s a favorite destination for everyone, but worth the wait.  What about popovers filled with blueberry ice cream?

Jordan Pond Popovers with Blueberry Ice Cream

7.  Go to the beach.  Sand Beach is a stunning crescent of white sand, with cliffs at each side and the Beehive Trail behind it. The views won’t disappoint, even if the chilly water does. Another option for a swim is the beach at Echo Lake on the island’s “Quietside.”

Echo Lake swimming

8.  Visit a lighthouse.  Maine has over 60 lighthouses, and one of its most beautiful is on Mount Desert Island in Bass Harbor.  It’s a great spot for photographers.  Afterwards, visit the working harbor busy with lobster and sail boats.

Bass Harbor

9.  Take a horse-drawn carriage ride.  Carriages of Acadia offers a number of picturesque drives within Acadia National Park, starting at Wildwood Stables and encompassing destinations including Day Mountain and Jordan Pond.  Another option is to enjoy a tour of downtown Bar Harbor with Wild Iris Horse Farm.

Carriage Drives in Acadia

10.  Learn from a park ranger. The National Park Service offers very entertaining talks and walks on subjects ranging tidal pools to birds of prey to the stars over Sand Beach. Scan The Beaver Log to figure out how you can fit in more than one.

11.  Touch nature – literally. There are several enterprises, including Mount Desert Biological Laboratories, The Dive-In Theatre, and the Mount Desert Oceanarium, that feature touch tanks full of lobsters, crabs, and sea cucumbers. I always end up liking this stuff just as much as the kids do.

12.  Visit the local wineries and micro-breweries.  On Mount Desert Island you can enjoy free tours and tastings of two award-winning micro-breweries, Bar Harbor Brewing Company and Atlantic Brewing Company.  Venture off the island to discover the acclaimed fruit vintages of Bartlett Winery.

13.  Get out on the water. This great national park is on an island so you must see it from the vantage point of the sea. Whether you’re powering yourself in a sea kayak or the wind is propelling you on a Downeast Friendship Sloop or the Margaret Todd, being on the water is a special part of a trip to Acadia National Park.

Sailing in Acadia

14.  Experience farm to table cuisine. Maine is known not only for its great fishermen, but also its farmers.  And nowhere in Maine has the renaissance of local and organic ingredients been as great as on Mount Desert Island.  A long list of top restaurants, including Burning Tree, Fathom, Red Sky, and Town Hill Bistro, awaits the discerning diner.  Make reservations!

15.  Take an art class.  If you’ve ever pictured yourself sketching or learning watercolors in an idyllic seaside location, make that fantasy a reality.  Among the many wonderful artists on Mount Desert Island is Judy Taylor, who offers workshops that include cruises to some of the most picturesque islands surrounding Mount Desert Island.

Judy Taylor Sketch Class

16.  Relax at a spa. Bar Harbor is home to a number of spas that run the gamut from sophisticated to funky.  If your idea of a great vacation is a day of outdoor activities topped off by a soothing massage, then you’ll find a vacation to Acadia perfect from the pine-scented trails to the aromas of the spa.

17.  Experience the “Way Life Should Be.”  That Maine slogan is your personal invitation to church suppers, local parades, blueberry festivals, farmers’ markets, crafts fairs, and terrific libraries.  If you pull off the road and depart from your schedule, you’ll be amply rewarded.  After all, those practical folks who invented ear muffs in 1873 just named Whoopie Pies as their “State Treat.”

Public Suppers in MaineRelated Stories:

5 Tips If You Want to Enjoy A Glorious Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Maine

Where to Stay on a Trip to Acadia National Park: A Profile of Mount Desert Island’s Villages

 

 

 

 

7 Stunning Scenes You Must See When You Visit Acadia National Park

 Photography, travel  Comments Off on 7 Stunning Scenes You Must See When You Visit Acadia National Park
Jul 162012
 

Before you go to Acadia National Park in Maine, you’ll research all of the best things to do on Mount Desert Island.  You’ll drive the Park Loop Road.  You’ll be sure to stop to see Otter Cliffs, Sand Beach, and Thunder Hole.  You’ll stroll down the Main Street of Bar Harbor.

But I want to share with you seven stunning sights to see that may be off the beaten path or require a little extra effort.  And some of these are manmade!  Bring your camera.

1.  Start with Acadia’s most well-known site, Cadillac Mountain.

Porcupine Islands and Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain

At 1,530 feet, it the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard and the perfect place to survey the spectacular beauty of Mount Desert Island.  But, believe me, it’s worth it to get up to see the sunrise and view the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay at dawn.

2.  Visit the famous Stone Barn Farm in Bar Harbor.Stone Barn Farm Bar Harbor MaineBarns, bridges, and churches are as much a part of the Maine landscape as some of its natural wonders.  Add to your itinerary the cobblestone barn on Norway Drive, built in 1820, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3.  Walk, bike, or carriage-tour Acadia’s carriage roads.

Carriage Roads Rockefeller Acadia National ParkJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. oversaw construction of 45 miles of carriage roads available to you today that weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia.  They will bring you to some spectacular sites and sightings, which may include David Rockefeller himself taking a drive.

4.  Let Jordan Pond and The Bubbles take your breath away. Jordan Pond Bubble MountainsJordan Pond House visitors not only take in tea and popovers, but this iconic view.  I urge you to explore Jordan Pond’s shoreline and see if you prefer the views from a point slightly more west, as my husband does.  The 3.2-mile walk around the pond is delightful.

5.  Be charmed by the Somesville Bridge.

Somesville Bridge Mount Desert Island

The village of Somesville, founded in 1761, is Mount Desert Island’s oldest settlement.  The bridge, often cited as one of the most photographed spots in Maine, will get your attention first, but then you should focus on Somes Sound, the seven-mile-long fiord that divides Mount Desert Island.

6.  Behold the boats on Bass Harbor at dusk.

Bass Harbor Mount Desert Island Maine

A highlight of the so-called “Quiet Side” of Mount Desert Island is the working fishing village of Bass Harbor.  When you visit this quiet community, you’ll certainly also want to see the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, built in 1858, and to have dinner at Thurston’s Lobster Pound.

7.  Find inspiration at Little Long Pond in Seal Harbor.

Little Long Pond Seal Harbor Maine

Charles Eliot, the influential president of Harvard University, in 1901 founded an entity on Mount Desert Island to acquire lands for public use, setting the stage for the establishment of the national park eighteen years later.  His son and views like this one – which he felt to be the most beautiful on the island – were his inspiration.

It’s hard to limit this list of must-see scenes to just seven!  Comment below and share your favorites!

RELATED STORIES:

Great Itineraries for Three Days, One Week, and Two Weeks in Acadia National Park– On and Off the Beaten Path

Best Bike Routes for Kids in Acadia National Park

Five Favorite Hikes in Acadia National Park

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: 2 Cats Cafe

Visitors, Volunteers, and Park Rangers Watch for Hawks from Cadillac Mountain — You Can, Too

 travel, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Visitors, Volunteers, and Park Rangers Watch for Hawks from Cadillac Mountain — You Can, Too
Nov 062011
 

I went on a Hawk Watch during my October hiking trip to Acadia National Park.  Call me a nerd, but I think hawks are interesting.

  • Hawks see much farther than people do – and eight times more clearly.
  • This keen eyesight plus their hooked beaks and taloned feet make them effective predators.  But they also pirate food.
  • Female hawks are larger than males, sometimes twice so, and most pairs mate for life.
  • The most common hawk in North America is the red-tail, but not all of its 14 subspecies have the distinctive coloration.
  • Northern birds migrate south during the winter.

Which brings me back to the Hawk Watch.

Every year, from August to October, park rangers, volunteers, and visitors gather on the northern ridge of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to count the migrating raptors.  The purpose of this data collection, to which Hawk Watches throughout the U.S. contribute, is to monitor the populations of hawks to ensure their preservation.

According to the National Park Service, there’s been a large increase in the numbers of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and osprey compared to the 1970s.  From the 1940s to 1970s, their populations were severely threatened by the pesticide DDT, which caused eggshells to thin and few young to survive. It was banned in 1972.

What do eagles and falcons have to do with hawks, you’re asking.  That’s another fact you should know:  “Hawk” is the general term for some 270 species of birds which are daytime predators.

Most of the migrating hawks we saw that day from Cadillac Mountain were sharp-shinned hawks.  “Sharpie west of Ironbound,” the Raptor Intern Delora would call out.  All binoculars would then search the sky for the speck.

Hawk Watch Cadillac Mountain Acadia National Park

Veteran volunteers were savvy about identifying birds and all of the islands in Frenchman Bay.  They had great equipment.  They were also warmly dressed and had snacks.

For the rest of us Raptor Ranger Lora had plenty of information and a tray of brownies. Visitors came and went; kids participating in the Junior Ranger program interviewed Ranger Lora.

Junior Ranger Program Acadia National Park

You can learn more about what goes on at a Hawk Watch in Acadia National Park by reading the “Riding the Winds” journals, created each year by Acadia’s raptor interns.  This year Delora Hilleary, shown below with a raptor specimen, added stunning illustrations to her observations about the migrating raptors.

Raptor Intern Hawk Watch Acadia National Park

 

Oct 292011
 

Compare these two pictures of me on Cadillac Mountain’s South Ridge Trail this October and last.

Gauging the weather and what to pack for a fall trip to Acadia National Park is a key challenge, but the rest is bliss.

One reason is that during autumn the mountains on Mount Desert Island’s eastern side – in the areas of Bar Harbor, Ocean Drive, and Jordan Pond – are much less crowded.  We chose two of the most popular, Cadillac and Champlain, to hike this fall.

The West Face of Cadillac, according to Tom St. Germain, is the shortest, but most difficult, of the eight ways to hike to the top of Acadia’s tallest mountain.  During a mile of hiking, the elevation changes 1100 feet.  The granite face often seems to be at 45-degrees – not an angle of repose for a hiker.  We used crevices in the rock to be able to move across it. 

After rigorous stretches, we’d stop and look back over Bubble Pond. 

West Face Cadillac overlooking Bubble Pond

West Face Trail then intersects with South Ridge Trail to reach the top of Cadillac Mountain at 1532 feet.

For the descent we hiked down the South Ridge of Cadillac all the way to The Featherbed, a small glacial pond filled with rushes, the inspiration for its name. 

View of Featherbed from Cadillac Mountain

This 5.2-mile hike compensates you for all of its challenges by ending with a long stroll on a carriage road beside Bubble Pond.

Carriage road along Bubble Pond

For our hike to the top of Champlain Mountain, another popular peak, this year we chose an old trail that was new to us.  Beachcroft Path was built in 1915 as part of the Memorial Paths program created by George Dorr and was reinforced twenty years later by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression.  This history gave us a lot to think about as we climbed the stone stairs in switchbacks up the western face of Huguenot Head.

Beachcroft Path to Huguenot Head

 Beachcroft Trail has great views of the Tarn, as well as Otter Creek and the Atlantic beyond. 

The Tarn from Beachcroft Path

Huguenot Head then connects to Champlain Mountain, where you ascend first on more stairs, then across a sheer, steep west face marked by cairns.

West face of Champlain

The spectacular top of Champlain, overlooking Frenchman Bay at an elevation of 1058 feet, is the same reward hikers get when they climb the Precipice

Top of Champlain Mountain Acadia

With late afternoon sun spotlighting the Porcupines, we descended along the north ridge of Champlain on Bear Brook Trail. 

Porcupine Islands

The walk back along the road past Beaver Dam Pond was a bonus.

Beaver Dam Pond

To help you plan your itinerary for Acadia National Park, including the best restaurants in Bar Harbor and other nearby villages, visit OUR ACADIA.

 

Jul 032011
 

Parking spaces are filling up.  People are walking purposefully, all in the same direction.  Some are carrying blankets and thermos bottles.  Is it a concert?  Theatre in the park?

No, it is sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the first place to see sunrise in the United States.

At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.  Many hiking trails converge on this mountaintop, as do bus tours.  But before dawn is a spectacular time to visit to witness the first sunrise.

Actually, Cadillac is struck by the sun’s rays before any place else only in the fall and winter.  During most of the spring and summer, that special recognition goes to Mars Hill to the northeast.  That, however, in no way diminishes the excitement of the populace who rise early on Mount Desert Island during summertime to see this spectacle of nature.

We had checked the time for sunrise on weather.com.  Fred was shocked that I actually got up at 4:30am, but I did and we jumped into the car.  The road seemed to circle endlessly as we ascended Cadillac, worried that we would miss “it.”  We moved with the crowds to the eastern side of the parking area and waited. 

As the firey orange mass rose, it brightened the purple clouds above and the dark masses of the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay below.  In seconds it was morning.

If you decide to put sunrise at Cadillac on your vacation agenda, here are some tips:

  1. Check the time for sunrise and give yourself plenty of time to get up the mountain.  It takes about 20 minutes from the village of Bar Harbor.
  2. Dress warmly.  Even in August, pre-dawn is chilly and it can be windy on top of Cadillac.
  3. Bring a blanket or even chairs so that you can wait comfortably.
  4. Consider a thermos of coffee to ward off the chill.
  5. Consult photography sites for tips on taking sunrise pictures.  An important tip: the color of a sunrise is far more short-lived than a sunset; the sky washes out in 30 to 45 seconds after the sun is up.

For more ideas on things to do when you visit Acadia National Park or Bar Harbor, Maine, visit OUR ACADIA.

Is Late-October Too Late for a Fall Foliage Trip to Acadia National Park in Maine?

 travel, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Is Late-October Too Late for a Fall Foliage Trip to Acadia National Park in Maine?
Nov 212010
 

Suddenly a business trip came up for the week after Columbus Day when I was planning to go to Maine.  Should I go later or forego the fall foliage in New England this year?  I couldn’t bear the latter.  But would there be huge trade-offs with the former?

They say Mount Desert Island rolls up the sidewalks after Columbus Day.  The lobster pounds are closed.  Stores have concluded their end-of-the-season sales and hunkered down.  Locals begin planning their winter trips to Florida.  And it’s highly likely that the scarlets have turned to russet.

But we went anyway. 

Yes, the weather was chilly.  Although I’ve enjoyed temperatures in the 70s in October in past years, this was not the case now.  We were happy we had our Under Armour and fleeces, and I wish I had had a knit cap for the top of Cadillac.

That was our best hike – in fact, Canon Brook Trail to Cadillac may be my favorite hike in all of Acadia.  It’s a 6.5-mile route that starts just a bit south of the Tarn on Route 3.   The initial stretch took us across a boarded footpath alongside a pool created by antiquated beaver dams. 

Even though the terrain was flat along Kane Path, the going was slow because of the monumental beauty of each leaf along the path. 

The birches, beeches and maples provided glowing bowers of gold and orange for us. 

The initial waterfall we encountered, first by sound, then by sight was a big deal.  Little did we know what was ahead.

It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  After ascending a rough, steep staircase that criss-crossed over a brook, we entered an area of smooth rock over which the brook flowed.  No contemporary sculptor has created anything quite so breathtaking and we were in the center of it.  Because of the rains the prior week, the brook burst over the granite.  I kept thinking that’s why it’s called Canon Brook! 

 

(However, later I read Acadia hiking guru Tom St. Germain’s note that the trail’s proper name is Canyon Brook in recognition of the resemblance of  the split upper south ridge of Cadillac to a canyon.  Over time, though, mapmakers lost the tilde in the word “cañón” and the brook acquired the new descriptor of Canon, which certainly fit my experience after October rains.)

We ascended to a glacial pond called the Featherbed, and then fought the stiff autumn breezes to the top of Cadillac.

We also did a cycling circuit that started and ended at Jordan Pond and the Bubbles. 

We biked to Conner’s Nubble, which is only 525-feet high, but has a stunning 360-view that is amazing considering it is one-third the height of Cadillac. 

I explored the mountaintop, as a photographer carefully positioning his tripod to capture the late-autumn beauty of Frenchman Bay, Eagle Lake, and key mountains east, south, and west. 

Strenuous hiking and biking should always have its rewards, and Mount Desert Island offers plenty of options for hungry foodies who’ve just burned off a lot of calories.  This year we took comfort in the cuisine of Mache Bistro in Bar Harbor.  Despite the fact that it was late in the season, almost every table and bar seat was full.  We celebrated the season with an autumn salad of greens, goat cheese, pecans, cranberries, and sweet potatoes.  Hanger steak with garlic mashed potatoes and a duck cassoulet were warming choices after our chilly outdoors activities.

In the end we were happy because we were able to focus not on what we had missed at autumn’s peak, but instead on the special qualities Acadia offered as it approached its quietest time of year.  I’m so glad I didn’t miss out.  Just looking up at the sky was glorious.