For lovers of fall foliage, New England is the destination of choice in autumn. With its colorful mountains, temperate island climate, and delicious harvest cuisine, Mount Desert Island is a prime spot for those who have the luxury to travel during September and October.
Leaf peepers love to drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road with its views alternating between the rocky Maine coast and the golden, red, and evergreen mountains of Acadia National Park. With kids back in school, the park has relaxed to a more contemplative vibe. Couples stroll hand-in-hand exploring the carriage roads and retreating to quiet restaurants that celebrate the season's bounty.
Mount Desert Island's chefs don't disappoint. Fall menus explode with the flavors of pumpkin, duck, sage, squash, bacon, and maple. Even Mount Desert Island Ice Cream gets into the act with flavors like Pumpkin Caramel, Indian Pudding, Sweet Potato, Maple Walnut, and Girl Scouts Gone Wild!
Bar Harbor's Eden Farmers' Market will be stocked with apples, pumpkins, squash, and preserves - appealing to photographers, perfect for something special to take home.
In Southwest Harbor visitors celebrate fall during an Oktoberfest that features microbreweries from throughout Maine.
My favorite fall itinerary always includes hiking and biking. 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. Fall is when you'll find me hiking Cadillac and Champlain and biking around Eagle Lake.
Fall is the perfect season to visit Acadia National Park. Here are some tips to make the most of your trip to Mount Desert Island in autumn.
DO come. There’s a deep hush over the mountains that surprises me because I had thought it was so quiet and peaceful in August!
DON’T assume, though, that the quiet means you’ll have the island to yourself. National Park statistics show there are more visitors in September and October than in May and June.
DO check the State of Maine fall foliage hotline at (888) MAINE-45 or visit www.mainefoliage.com to help schedule when to visit.
DON’T stay in your car! This isn’t Vermont. Acadia National Park lets you experience evergreen, gold, and crimson from pine-scented carriage roads and trails.
DO plan to do everything you love. Average temperatures in September (69 degrees) and October (58 degrees) are ideal for hiking, kayaking, and biking.
DON’T worry if you hit an unseasonably cool or rainy day. You’ll probably be able to find a tent sale at your favorite shop and get a head start on holiday shopping.
DO plan ahead and lay out a rough itinerary, especially if you are only coming for a long weekend. Some restaurants are only open on weekends.
DON’T neglect to make reservations. Popular restaurants (like Burning Tree) and activities (like the Wildwood Stables carriage drives) are still booked well in advance.
DO plan on a classic lobster pound dinner. Thurston’s is open until mid-October.
DON’T have your heart set on the cozy pine dining room at Abel’s. They’re closed.
DO work off the lobster dinner with some mini-golf. An award-winning course called Pirate’s Cove is on Route 3 going into Bar Harbor.
DON’T neglect the quieter activities during your trip, such as visiting the museum in Somesville (through September only) and photographing the bridge and historic buildings there. The fall light is beautiful.
DO celebrate October in a New England farmhouse beer garden at The Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor – open until Columbus Day.
DON’T forget to bring home a case of their blueberry soda as well as Bar Harbor Real Ale.
DO pack clothes for all eventualities, but especially fleeces, windbreakers, caps, maybe even light gloves.
DON’T discount the possibility of warm weather. The first week of October ’07 saw highs in the low 70s on two days!