Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Driving Acadia Park Loop Road Part I

Bar Harbor  Mount Desert Narrows   High: 84  Low: 63

Best little purchase for 3.00 on the money, was this little booklet...
We had driven the park loop road a couple of times in bits and pieces, but we missed a LOT of very cool stopping points until we bought the book. The book starts you at the Hull Cove Visitor Center at Acadia National Park and leads you through stop by stop of all the very beautiful vistas, stopping points and points of interest along the Park Loop Road so you don't miss anything!

It tells you how many miles or tenths of miles are between each point, what's BETWEEN each point, like trailheads and special sightings, it gives a little history behind each stopping point or landmark, it tells you where to park, giving you a heads up whether parking is on the left or right, tells you what areas are busy busy during the summer and gives a good description of what's at each stopping point, all for the price of 3.00! So today, we drove the whole road, following our little book, and here's SOME of what we saw:
The Frenchman Bay Overlook---a lot of the vistas and overlooks are overgrown, making it difficult to see the vistas now....

The Duck Brook Bridge....You can't see the structure underneath you to get a photo, so here's one from the internet. It's pretty spectacular! Center arch is 95' wide, side arches are 89' feet wide, 402 feet in length, the largest continuous concrete arch bridge east of the Mississippi. It's not a Rockefeller Bridge, having been built in 1950.

Sieur de Monts Spring....a nature center is there, Wild Acadia Gardens are there, the Robert Abbe Museum featuring exhibits about Maine Indian history, restrooms and a cool wigwam are all things to explore here. There are fabulous trails out back leading to various hikes of varying intensities.

The Precipice...You stop in the parking lot for this trail which is THE most challenging in the park. We talked to a gentleman in his late sixties, early seventies, that does this hike every year. He is shocked that out of shape parents take toddlers on this climb. He's seen four and five year olds with their parents do this climb. It's a "non-technical climbing" route, which scales the east face cliff of Champlain Mountain with a series of ladders and iron rungs anchored into the mountain side. I posted previously a photo of how precarious and narrow your footing is on this trail. A hiker recently died from injuries suffered in a fall on this trail. We just looked at it again today. (Sparky needs to look at those rescue photos again, suggests E.) The trail is for those in "good physical condition with no fear of exposed heights, should have no problem attaining the summit of Precipice Trail. No one should hike any trail beyond their abilities." Problem is, Sparky and Eldo talked to a pair of rangers today at the Sieur de Mont nature center and a gal in her sixties just did the trail yesterday....Hm-m-m-mm....says Sparky.

We kept going.....Next...
Schooner Head Overlook....a nice, short, but steep descending trail down to right beside the rocky ledges and cliffs...a beautiful, HUGE mansion sits across from the walking path....

Sand Beach.....a few tenths of a mile down the road...We didn't go there today...Sparky did the Great Head Trail a few days ago and posted photos of Sand Beach. It's impossible to get down to the beach in July and August unless you arrive extremely early in the morning or very late in the day, OR you take the Island Express bus which will let you off right at Sand Beach.

Next, Thunder Hole....Most people visit Thunder Hole in the summer, when it's a calm day and there's very little wind and at the wrong time for the tides. Best time to see this geological formation of cliffs and undersea cave and BOOM wave explosion KAPOWING out of the cliff is---MID-TIDE, on a ROUGH SEA day, AFTER a storm. It's very disappointing otherwise....

We continued on to Otter Point....Best time to visit between high tide and low tide. Tide charts are available from the visitors center. Here we stumbled upon a ranger giving a talk all about Samuel Champlain, the French explorer, who busted up a ship right beyond where she was talking. She did a great job, AND, she was bi-lingual, also able to give talks in French. There's a strong French influence here in Acadia and not because a lot of French Canadians come to visit! Sparky had done her homework, reading up about this drive ahead of time, and when the ranger asked, "Does anybody know why there is a bell buoy out there?" Sparky raised her hand and shouted out, "Sure! It's to mark Spindle Rock where Champlain hit it and had to come ashore for repairs." Eldo walked to the other side of the rocks to disassociate himself from the "know-it-all". It's the darn teacher in me again, only this time, I was the prepared student! I just HAD to answer that!
At this point, we are going to take a breather, and have a picnic lunch at the Fabbri Memorial site and picnic area, about half way through our drive. We'll continue tomorrow, come back if you are interested!


  1. Often, people confuse youth with being capable ... not so, I'm afraid ... and that leads to problems when they find themselves in circumstances above their heads.

  2. I agree with E & Mui, youth thinks they are invincible regardless of their preparedness. Lots of them are out of shape too from what I see. We more experienced folks are USUALLY more careful and realistic about what we can and can't, should and shouldn't do. We realize what can happen. AHEM.......nuff said. :-))

    You could sell a lot of those books. I think a VC position is in your future. You've definitely sold me. SO nice to have someone pave the way for you and show you just what to see and how to see it. Right down to which guides to buy. Thanks!

  3. We enjoyed that park so much last summer, we are planning to go back soon:)