Thursday, July 17, 2014

Best trails for seeing Acadia NP’s wonders

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. Photo courtesy of Acadia NPS.
Among the best ways to see the top sights of Acadia National Park – the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River – is via a day hike. Just four short trails will allow you to enjoy each of the park’s highlights: America’s first sunrise, the Atlantic coast, historic carriage roads, and Maine’s evergreen woodlands.

First sunrise
Acadia’s ancient granite peaks are among the first places in the United States to see the sunrise. Among the best spots to catch it is Cadillac Mountain via the South Ridge Trail, which heads 4 miles to the summit of the 1528-foot high peak.

Atlantic coast
Cobble beaches and hard bedrock make up most of the shoreline for the Atlantic Ocean, which surrounds the park’s many islands. The 4.4-miles round trip Ocean Path Trail heads from a sand beach to sea cliffs.

Historic carriage roads
Wealthy landowners who once owned the land making up Acadia built 45 miles of historic carriage roads with 17 stone-faced bridges. The Eagle Lake area trails are the flattest for children, so hike the carriage road heading north from the parking lot on north side of Bubble Pond to intersection signpost 7 then east around the southern tip of Eagle Lake to intersection signpost 8 for a 4-mile round trip.

Spruce-fir forests cover much of Maine and Acadia, but stands of beech, maple and oak that is typical of New England also can be found. The Jordan Pond Nature Trail is an easy 1-mile loop through an evergreen forest with views of ponds.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.