The New England Coast is beautiful. Naturally beautiful, architecturally beautiful and culturally beautiful.
The highest point on the American east coast is only 1500 feet (500 meters) high, yet expresses the greatest elevation anywhere from the Cape Breton Highlands to perhaps Rio’s mountains in Brazil.
Cadillac Mountain, the highest of the ‘peaks’ on Mount Desert Island, was sheered clean by the last glaciation. It is not hard to summit (even by car). Nevertheless, this gentle coastal giant in the first place in the continental USA to see the sunrise for nearly six months a year.
Acadia is Maine’s only National Park. It has that dubious echo of the Rothschild legacy. I appreciate his / their foresight and benevolence, but fear a tragic return to oligarchy. North America was not better when a few rich people ran the whole show.
Thus noted, Acadia was converted into a National Park over 100 years ago and manages to capture the maritime majesty of the American Northeast Coast. This matters.
Indigenous people lived in the area for thousands of years. The Vikings may have explored this coast, but certainly the French navigator, Samuel de Chaplain of Canadian fame had to repair his ship in the natural harbour. This was once home to the Acadian people, before they were expelled and found refuge in Louisiana. ‘Acadian’ became Cajun.
The town of Bar Harbor (Harbour), is inextricably associated with the park and is New England spectacular. It is home to somewhere around 5000 full-time residents but welcomes hundreds – if not thousands – more employees during tourism season.
It is the one community on the east coast that feels much like my fit, slightly alternative (and too expensive) Rocky mountain town. People choose lifestyle. There is still a fishing – specifically lobster – fleet, with a distinct local flair, but otherwise, bars, shops, hotels and restaurants are staffed by people from across the US and around the world. I really like this diversity.
The town was very elite eastern USA until it burned in 1947. Today the hotels are lovely, the services fun and people relaxed. It is unabashedly touristic, but that is ok. The area deserves the attention. It is perfect for hiking, biking, kayaking and rock climbing. It is also gentle enough just to enjoy!
There is no major population centre close by. Bangor Maine is about an hour away. New Brunswick is slightly further and Boston is a solid 4+ hour drive. This makes Bar Harbor and Acadia a true destination. I recommend it absolutely and fully plan to return for a climbing trip. The exposed granite looks so fun!
I don’t often give plugs, but here is an excellent guide to family hiking in the park. I would do this tour again, just to return to Acadia.