I ran into a friend at a party recently that I hadn't seen in a while, and she told me that she thought I was "long gone" and had "left New York to live in the woods" (the day will come my friends, and my future posts will be about how to cook frog legs and weave pine branches together to decorate your 15x15 foot cabin). Currently, I discover new places when I can, forrest by forrest, river by river. This country has so much natural beauty to offer and I'd never been to Maine before. Living in the Northeast all my life, it was a place that called out to me. So, Dylan and I decided to drive up and check it out.
We drove from Connecticut to Maine which took about 8 hours, stopping in Portland for lunch. By the time we got to our campsite at Blackwoods Campgrounds, it was just nearing dark, so we pitched our tent and made a tasty dinner over the campfire. The campground location was great, as we were either a short walk or drive away from some major hiking trails. It also had amenities like real bathrooms and running water. We even brought an air mattress the size of our entire tent, which could potentially classify the trip as as glamping. The only downside was that the campground clustered all the campers together, so privacy was minimal. The other campgrounds were already closed for the season, as we went late October. Apparently, the most isolated camping spots are on an island that you can only access by ferry and have to mail in a reservation form to be able to camp there (fancy), but we had limited time and didn't want to isolate ourselves from the best hiking trails, so we went with the most accessible campground.
I love looking at maps so I stared at the trail map of Acadia for about a week before we got there, essentially memorizing all the trails I wanted to hike that my legs would carry me on in three days.
We started a 4.5 hour hike late Saturday morning. We began at the southern-most point of the Ocean Path trail and continued north, an easy walk along the seashore. Then we turned west onto the Beehive trail, a short trail, but one of the more difficult ascensions in Acadia. This trail had amazing mountain views of the ocean and the little islands scattered along the coast. There were a few parts of the trail that had iron rungs stuck into the cliffs on the side that you had to climb, not recommended for anyone who isn't in good physical shape. We then took the Gorham Mountain trail through the forest, which also had some pretty overlooks, and connected back with the Ocean Path Trail, finishing around where we started.
Feeling pretty pooped and knowing the sun would set soon, we spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the island taking photographs. We also checked out the little town of Bar Harbor, which Dylan said gave him "Provincetown vibes" for anyone who has been there.
We got up at the butt crack of dawn to see the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain. It's one of the first places the sun's rays touch every morning in the United States. You can either hike to the top or drive, which is convenient. We chose to drive, and thought we could just park our car at the top and see the world slowly being illuminated by the rising sun. Sadly, the road did not go that far. So we had to get out of the car and walk to the edge of the mountain to see it. The image above is an actual photograph of the ice sculpture titled "Liz and Dylan on top of Cadillac Mountain in Pajamas and Puffy Jackets", courtesy of my tripod.
Later that morning, we climbed the Precipice Trail before we hit the road, which I was really looking forward to all weekend. It is basically a 1,000 ft vertical ascension where you have to climb over and under boulders, up iron rungs, similar to the Beehive, but more enthralling. Overall, its about 1.2 miles to the top. It's not recommended to come down the same way, so we looped back down and around with another trail once we got to the top. This is definitely one of my favorite trails in all of the Northeast. A comparable one would be something like Breakneck Ridge in the Hudson Valley or another iron rung trail in Acadia. If you aren't scared of heights, this trail should be at the top of your to-hike list.
Getting to hike around a mountainous island in the Atlantic Ocean is a rare phenomena for the Northeast. All the changing leaves give the impression that the whole island is bursting with colorful flames and the ocean lapping at it's shore is trying to calm it. I'm sure that anytime of year, this National Park would be a magnificent place to explore, but if you want to really experience the Northeast in all its autumnal glory, make sure you stalk Maine's fall foliage website like I did, take their advice on when peak weekend is, and head to Acadia.