Acadia National Park’s Quiet side

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Acadia National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country. Located within a day’s drive of several large metropolitan areas keeps the daily visitor counts high. It is not uncommon during the busy summer months to get stuck in traffic and wait for parking at popular spots. Most national parks are centered around a specific attribute such as a desert, mountain range, or canyons. Unlike most National Parks, Acadia offers many different natural attractions in a compact area. Acadia offers deep woodlands with streams and lakes, sizable cliffs, and mountains right up against the Atlantic ocean. You can make a complete loop of most of the park via the auto loop road in less than 45 minutes. Of course, you will wish to stop and explore and spend lots of time at each location. For most visitors, the park experience’s entirety consists of the attractions spanning Mount Desert Island (MDI). The park does offer lesser-known but just as scenic locations off of MDI. Several island locations off the coast are reachable via ferries. The largest lesser-known location is not an island and is reachable by auto. The Schoodic Peninsula is 44 miles from the park’s visitor center in Bar Harbor. It takes about an hour to reach by car.

The Schoodic Peninsula, which is only four miles from Bar Harbor as the crow flies and in many respects, is like a small Acadia Park hosting roughly 10% of the visitors that arrive on MDI each year. This is a welcome spot for those looking for more seclusion for their hikes or sunset walks. The Peninsula has its own 6-mile loop road, visitor center, hiking trails, mountain vistas, and coastal landmarks. In 2015 the park opened the Schoodic Campgrounds, the first new campgrounds in the park since 1935.

Your journey starts after passing through the town of Winter Harbor then head straight through to the Park Loop road. The loop road resembles the main park loop road on MDI with Frenchmen’s Bay and MDI views to the west. At the bottom of the loop is Schoodic Point, with wide vistas overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This is the spot to photograph crashing waves against a wide expanse coastal rocks and small cliffs. Additional photographic spots of interest along the loop road are The Raven Nest offers a bird’s view of the west-facing cliffs. The Frazer Point Picnic Area with beautiful views of Frenchmans Bay. West Pond Cove for woodland images and Schoodic Head trail offers views from the Highest Point on the Peninsula at 440 feet. Little Moose Island hosts all sorts of photo opportunities but is accessible from two hours before low-tide to two hours after low-tide. The last half of the loop road is known as Schoodic Drive East and offers a coastal woodland drive that offers its best views in the early morning light. The peninsula offers several more lesser-known photo spots, and you can find your own while hiking and biking all the trails.

There are limited facilities on the peninsula, so make plans and bring with you whatever you may need. The town of Winterhaven has a few restaurants and other outdoor activities. Winterhaven is a scenic New England fishing harbor. Allow yourself some time to visit and photograph the boats and the harbor. You can see a lighthouse that sits between MDI and the peninsula. There is a ferry the runs between Bar Harbor on MDI and Winterhaven. The trip is about an hour, and it runs throughout the day during the busy summer months. If you plan a trip to Acadia National Park, you should definitely add a visit to the peninsula to your itinerary. You will not be disappointed.

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