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Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park - Sand BeachFeatured in the film,  "Cider House Rules", this lifeguard-patrolled beach on the Atlantic Ocean is bordered  by  rugged  granite cliffs and a magnificent rocky shoreline. Approximately three tenths of a mile in length,  the sand on this beach is   a coarse mixture of pulverized seashells.  

Sand Beach truly is a spectacular spot, with its dramatic rock ledges that  loom   above it. Aptly named,   it is Acadia Park's only "sandy" ocean  beach.  

A very popular spot, Sand Beach tends to become crowded, even though there is a constant breeze off the ocean, which makes it chilly at times, It is, however, a   great place to relax on a hot day, and depending on your mind set, in summertime the water temperature is either a challenging or an invigorating 55 to 60 degrees. Even on the hottest days,  don't count on staying in the water for very long. Parents should note that   the water will probably be a bit too cold for your kids to swim in,  though they will love splashing around at  the shore line.  

Warmer waters for swimming can be found on the western side of the island at Echo Lake, Acadia's other beach site. For night owls,  visit   Sand Beach on a  moonless night when  the Park Rangers offer a real-life "star show". Check the schedules. If you attend, bring a blanket, sweaters, binoculars, and a flashlight.   

For the Kids
Kids can participate in Acadia National Park's ranger-led programs, take a horse-drawn carriage ride along the carriage roads, visit the park's Abbe Museum where a collection of   Maine's Native American heritage is preserved, or pick blueberries on some of Acadia's smaller mountains. Children 8 years or older can participate in the Junior Ranger program during the summer,  along with other  ranger-led programs specifically designed for children.

For Adults   

Shopping & Restaurants in Bal Harbor.

Nearby, the charming town of Bar Harbor is replete  with grand 19th Century homes, antique shops, boutique galleries, and restaurants that specialize in Maine lobsters.    

Nature Programs

Acadia National Park rangers lead interpretive walks, cruises, talks, hikes,  and evening slide programs from late May to mid October. Topics include geology, the shoreline, birds, plant life and human history.

Sand Beach is reached via Loop Road, a 20-mile thoroughfare traversing the eastern half of the island. The road leads to Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet,  this is the highest point on the Atlantic seaboard north of Brazil. There are rest rooms on Sand Beach but no vendors,  so pack everything you'll need for the day.  

About Mount Desert Island  

Formed by glaciers during the Ice Age, Mount Desert Island  has several small towns dotted along its shores, while much of its interior is taken up with the   Acadia National Park.  Unlike most other national parks in the U.S., Acadia is relatively small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in spectacular scenery

Thanks to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. there are over 45 miles of interconnecting carriage roads on Mt. Desert. They vary in levels of difficulty so there is something for every rider. The routes closest to Bar Harbor tend to be the most crowded, especially during the summer. The stone roads are well maintained and offer a wonderful escape from paved roads. You'll cross over beautiful  stone bridges and have lovely views of the untouched parklands.  

Hiking Trails
Acadia offers many wonderful hiking trails. Pick up a trail guide in town or at the Park Entrance Visitor Center, and plan a hike according to your level of physical fitness. The   well-marked trails   range from level, shoreline walks to near-vertical climbs, with everything in between.

Scenic Drives
The 27-mile scenic Park Loop Road begins at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and offers access to such sites as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond,  and Cadillac Mountain.  

National Park Sea Kayak Tours,  39 Cottage Street,  Bar Harbor, ME (207) 288-0342 (800) 347-0940.
For lessons or guides : Contact Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School,  198 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 888-232-9559 or (207) 866-7562

Cadillac Mountain
This is the first place the sun hits on the east coast,  and the highest point on the Atlantic seaboard north of Brazil. An ideal place to view spectacular sunrises and sunsets, even in the middle of the day, the 360 degree panoramic views will astound you and should not be missed. Keep in mind that it is very windy and cool at the top of the mountain,  so you should definitely bring along a sweater or wind breaker.

For athletes, consider biking up the mountain. It features gradual to more challenging slopes on its 1,530 foot climb to the summit. The ride back down is well worth the sore legs. You could also hike one of the trails that lead to the top.  

Thunder Hole  
Located along Park Loop Road, midway between Great Head and Otter Cliffs, Thunder Hole is well worth a visit when conditions are right.  Visit during low tide and Thunder Hole appears to merely be a narrow granite cave,   but visit during high tide when the wind blows the crashing waves up inside the cave  and the effect is truly awesome. As each wave crashes into the cave,   the air inside is  forced out,  making a loud,  thundering sound, hence the name:  'Thunder Hole'.  The effect is greatest  during stormy weather.  You won't be able to get close enough to view the actual cave, but the water will crash and spray all the way to the road if you're adventurous enough to stick around.  

Jordan Pond and The Bubbles
Jordan Park is located in a park dotted with glacier-carved ponds and lakes on the western side of Park Loop Road. Its waters are clear and cool. Penobscot Mountain flanks its shores to the west and Pemetic Mountain to the east, both of which are accessible by hiking trails. The view that sets Jordan Pond apart lies to the north. Rising from the shore are a pair of rounded mountains aptly named The Bubbles.

Time of Year to Visit
The "tourist season" on Mount Desert Island ends during the second half of October. For better or worse, the beauty of Mount Desert Island is not a secret. Acadia National Park gets about 3 million visitors each year, so if you want privacy you will have to visit between November and February

Pets are allowed on most hiking trails and carriage roads, as long as they are on a leash no longer than 6 feet. They are allowed at the campgrounds as long as they are not left unattended