One Day in Acadia National Park
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Spending one day in Acadia National Park isn’t nearly enough time. Yet if that’s all the time you’ve got, you can still have a marvelous day exploring the wonders of Mount Desert Island.
The pinnacle of our Maine Coastal Crawl was the one and only day we spent in Acadia National Park.
In retrospect, I wish we would have planned for several days in Acadia. There are over 20 awe-inspiring trails around Acadia National Park. Some along the coast overlooking craggy cliffs, some through lush forests, and some up to the top of towering mountains.
Nevertheless, it is possible to spend one day in Acadia National Park and feel like you’ve truly experienced its wonders.
One Day in Acadia National Park
It’s important to pick the natural attractions you stop to see carefully, as to not waste time. We hiked several marvelous trails on our one day in Acadia National Park but the two best were…
Great Head Trail. Great Head Trail is one of the best trails in Acadia. It’s a 1.4 mile loop around the Great Head Peninsula on the east side of Mount Desert Island. The trail starts at Sand Beach (the only sandy beach in the park) and circles along the coastline.
It’s a fairly easy trail most of the way, but there is a small section of the trail that requires some boulder climbing. There are sections of the trail high above the water overlooking Sand Beach and the islands. Then there are some areas close to the water’s edge.
This lower section is a great place to hop off the trail and explore the tide pools. We found all sorts of sea snails, sea anemones, and fish in the colorful pools along rocky shore.
The entire hike is dreamy. You can’t go 10 yards, without having to stop and gasp at the view one more time. Finish up right back on Sand Beach and cool off in the water!
Otter Cliff. Right off the main loop through Acadia Park you’ll find a steep angular drop known as Otter Cliff. Sit on a ledge (not too close to the drop-off) and whale watch, or simply watch the waves crash against the rocky face.
Jordan’s Pond House Restaurant. Once you’ve had a good hike our two, have lunch at Jordan’s Pond House Restaurant. Sit outside on the lawn under umbrellas and nibble on the Pond House’s famous popovers and jam. If you order a sandwich, make sure to get a side of apple chips!
Jordan’s Pond Trail. Our second favorite trail was the walk around Jordan’s pond. This 3.5 mile loop is flat and alluring. Start on the west side, to the left of Jordan’s Pond House and following the split-log boardwalk over the marsh. The boardwalk ends at a boulder trail along the water’s edge, which then turns into a gravel trail all the way back to the Pond House.
The kids (we all) thought the boardwalk and boulder section of the trail was great fun. Keep your eyes up; there are fabulous views all along the path around Jordan’s Pond.
Cadillac Mountain. The highest point on Mount Desert Island and the best place to get a 360 degree view of the coast and islands below.
You can hike or drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain and explore the rocky trails, with vast beauty beyond.
There are many other natural wonders at Acadia National Park. You could spend a week in the park and not see it all.
Yet, today I’ve listed the best of what we experienced. Adventures you can fit into one day (even with kids) that will give you a true Acadia experience. Now get out there!!
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Thanks so much for sharing. I love you pictures. We’re going to be spending the day at Acadia while we’re in port on a cruise ship. We don’t have a lot of time so I really appreciate your suggestions plus these trails look fairly easy.My husband isn’t at his fittest.
How old are your kids? Just wondering what age range you think these trails are good for ?
These photos look stunning! My boyfriend and I cannot wait to go to Acadia!!
We will be starting our trip to all 58 National Parks in Acadia Maine! We will be photographing the parks and writing a book of our photos a the end! Thank you for the tips and Ideas! 3 more weeks!!
I loved reading about your Acadia experience. We are headed there next month. I am curious, is there parking along the way to each of these spots? Thanks!
Hi Danielle! Yes, there are little parking lots all over the park. You are going to have so much fun!! :)
Acadia is definitely worth the trip even if you only have one day. Your pictures are gorgeous!
great suggestions! we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the park and would definitely have planned our trip differently to allow for more!