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!


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Aug 152010

How long does it take to see Acadia?

That’s a common question among tourists and one that’s tough to answer.  You can drive the Park Loop Road, walk around the top of Cadillac Mountain, relax on Sand Beach, and visit Thunderhole in two or three days.  If you spend a week, you can see “inside” the island by biking its carriage roads and from the “outside” by taking a kayaking trip. 

But if you have a little more time, bring your imagination along and see Acadia from the vantage point of its history. 

I’m in my eighth summer now of walking and biking in the park.  Although I’ve whizzed over the carriage roads and bridges many times, I recently constructed a little tour and saw them in a completely new way.

Acadia National Park boasts 17 stone bridges, 16 of which were built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1917 and 1933.  He oversaw every element of their design and set the guiding principles for their construction:  minimal disturbance to the surrounding areas, designs to take advantage of scenic vistas and conform to the natural landscape, and use of local materials with a commitment to restore the land after construction.

 In this plan to relate to and respect the natural environment, Rockefeller demonstrated his considerable personal talent and foresight in landscape design.  Rockefeller also directed granite be quarried for each bridge close to the site for cost efficiency.  Each granite block was rough cut at the quarry and then re-shaped by a mason at the site.  One stone per day per mason was the standard.

That’s just one of the things we were thinking about as we started our first of two days visiting Acadia’s bridges by bike.  We could have covered more bridges the first day, but we combined it with a hike starting at Gatepost 22 to Long Pond in Seal Harbor to see the view that Charles Eliot, a key figure in the creation of the national park, called the most beautiful on the island.

All together we spent time at 11 of the 17 bridges in the areas of Upper Hadlock and Jordan Ponds, beginning both days at the Brown Mountain Gatehouse.  The photos are in the sequence of our route in case you’d like to follow in our bike tracks.

And lest we get too carried away here with history and design, let’s remember that the purpose of a bridge is to get you from here to there by going over something.  In Acadia National Park, those “somethings” are bound to be beautiful. Whether a charming little brook, steep ravine, or stunning waterfall, we took our time appreciating them.

Our starting point: Brown's Mountain Gatehouse

Hadlock Brook Bridge, 1926, which is only 40 feet long, was modeled after a bridge in Central Park NYC that Rockefeller favored

Hemlock Bridge 1924, lets bikers cross Maple Spring Brook across its 185-foot expanse and hikers pass under its 30-foot Gothic arch

The contours of Hemlock Bridge illustrate how Rockefeller's bridges conform to the natural landscape

Many larger bridges feature viewing platforms, such as this one on Waterfall Bridge, 1925

Stairs help you get down closer to the waterfall

Little Harbor Brook Bridge, 1919, provided a charming place to picnic alongside its 20-foot arch

Cobblestone Bridge, the first bridge to be built in 1917, is the only one with cobblestone facings, the idea not of the architect, but the carriage road engineer

Cobblestone Bridge is a popular attraction, including one of the tours by Carriages of Acadia

We then hiked to Long Pond in Seal Harbor. This is the view Charles Eliot thought to be the most beautiful on the island.

Looking south towards the ocean across "Little" Long Pond

Amphitheatre Bridge, 1928, is a 236-foot structure that features a flared entrance and dramatic viewing platforms

Amphitheatre Bridge's viewing platforms feel like parapets on a castle

Cliffside Bridge, 1932, is 232 feet long and with its crenulated railing resembles a medieval battlement

Even on a misty day the tall, narrow arch of West Branch Bridge, 1920, is the dramatic feature of this 170-foot bridge

Jordan Pond Bridge, 1920, 40 feet long, is at the popular point where Jordan Pond and Jordan Stream meet

Stunning triple-arched Stanley Brook Bridge, 1933, encapsulates much of what was learned in prior bridge design and construction

Jordan Pond Road Bridge, 1932, facilitates a Seal Harbor road above and carriage road underneath

The Triad-Day Mountain Bridge provided passage on our way home after our bike tour of Acadia's bridges.

Acadia’s Wildwood Stable Opens June 6, 2009 under New Management with New Tours

 travel, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Acadia’s Wildwood Stable Opens June 6, 2009 under New Management with New Tours
Jun 142009

Things to do in Acadia National Park include biking, hiking, and kayaking.  My daughter would definitely put rock climbing on her list, and I think you have to eat at a nearby lobster pound. But one of the top-ranking activities among a very broad group of travelers is a carriage tour. 

Why?  Perhaps it’s because that’s the way the carriage roads of Acadia National Park were meant to be experienced.  These unique gravel byways were constructed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. as a means to get deep into Mount Desert Island and to keep cars out.  Mr. Rockefeller, himself a skilled horseman, drove a carriage along these scenic roads that encircle mountains, pass over stone-faced bridges, and skirt meadows. 

Today some 20,000 visitors travel the same historic roads on tours offered by Wildwood Stables. 

This year tours will start June 6 and run to October 18.  They feature the horse-drawn “Acadia Sociable” wagonette which holds 12 to 16 people.  There are four different tours, available for one- or two-hour drives throughout the day.  Although they all book quickly, the most popular are the morning drive on Pemetic Mountain to “Cobblestone Bridge” and the sunset trip to Day Mountain.  Wildwood’s new manager, Mike Carpenter, is considering additional routes for 2009, including one that’s a circuit from Jordan Pond House, the scenic spot for lemonade and popovers. 

The “five-star” popularity of the carriage tours seems to result as much from the charm of the carriage drivers as the scenery.  Visitors rave about the information, history, and humorous anecdotes.  Scan TripAdvisor and you’ll see “I hated it to end” and “I would definitely do it again.” 

One reason to book again, even if you’ve enjoyed a carriage drive before, will be the new emphasis on the horses themselves.  Wildwood’s new manager hopes to have at least one representative of the six or seven major breeds of draft horses at the stable.  Having grown up with horses on a farm, he believes that giving visitors more interaction with the animal power – even letting them touch the horses – will enhance the experience of a visit to Wildwood. 

And if you’re planning a romantic vacation on Mount Desert Island, consider a special charter in a surrey or vis-a-vis “wedding carriage” like the ones in Central Park.  According to Mr. Carpenter, that’s one thing both newlyweds and couples celebrating anniversaries put on their lists of things to do in Acadia National Park. 

Want to include a carriage drive on your trip to Acadia National Park?  Visit Carriages of Acadia to find out more.  Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-276-3622.