Ready to hit the Park Loop Road running? You can pack a lot into three days, taking in the highlights and actually experiencing the park with hikes, bike rides, boat trips, or ranger-led programs. You might even include the Schoodic section of the park. For easiest park access, base yourself in Bar Harbor; even better, stay at one of the park’s campgrounds.

Day 1

Pack a picnic, head to the park’s Hulls Cove Visitors Center, purchase a pass, pick up a schedule of ranger-led activities, then drive or pedal the Park Loop. Now, you can complete the loop itself in about two hours, but it’ll take the better part of the day if you stop at all the sights, including the Acadia Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and Abbe Museum at Sieur du Monts Spring, as well as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond House, and Cadillac Mountain (best at sunset or save that for sunrise tomorrow). Make it a whole day by adding a hike. Perhaps stretch your legs with a walk along the Ocean Path or ascend Great Head or Gorham Mountain. If time permits, visit the Seawall area and Bass Harbor Head Light. In the evening, if you’re not completely exhausted, perhaps attend a ranger-led program at either Blackwoods or Seawall Campgrounds.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island on a sunny day.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island. Photo © Allan Wood/123rf.

Day 2

Rise early and catch sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Spend the morning and early afternoon exploring one of the park’s outlying holdings, taking either the ranger-narrated cruise to Baker Island or Islesford or catching the ferry to Winter Harbor and exploring the Schoodic section of the park either by bicycle or on the Island Explorer. On returning, if time permits, head to the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers on the lawn. Work it off with a walk or pedal on the carriage roads.

A plateau of smooth mossy stones offers a dramatic view of Maine greenery and the ocean dotted with small islands.

View from Cadillac mountain in Acadia National Park. Photo © Natalia Bratslavsky/123rf.

Day 3

Pursue your interests, mixing and matching any of the following: Take a guided sea kayaking tour exploring the western side of the island, departing from Pretty Marsh; take a guided bird-watching tour with Michael Good of Down East Nature Tours; hike Acadia, St. Sauveur, or Flying Mountain, followed by a refreshing swim in Echo Lake; reserve a horse-drawn carriage ride to the Day Mountain summit; pedal or walk the Eagle Lake and Witch Hole Pond carriage roads; scale Acadia’s cliffs on a climbing lesson; or join one or more ranger-led programs.

A paved narrow path through trees in autumn in Acadia National Park.

Witch Hole Pond carriage road in Acadia National Park. Photo © J.R. Libby, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Acadia National Park.