What do you do when you only have one day in a large national park? Last summer Matt and I went back to Maine for my cousin’s wedding. Matt had been bugging me for months about going to Acadia National Park. With our super busy wedding filled week (I was the MOH) I wasn’t sure how to squeeze it in. Especially because we were also on a very tight budget.
Acadia National Park is about 3 hours from my mom’s house in Maine. Not exactly an easy day trip with 6 hours of driving but we didn’t really have time for an overnight trip. I asked my mom if we could borrow her car for the day and she could work from home and she agreed.
We left the house at 5:30am for the journey “downeast” as they say in Maine. I have been to Acadia a handful of times and have taken the highway sometimes and the scenic route along route 1 once. The route 1 way takes over 5 hours and I would only suggest it if you have some time to kill and want to see what the coastal towns of Maine are like. We took the highway.
We arrived in Bar Harbor at about 7:30am and drove straight into the park. It was quiet this early but I knew the crowds would come. It was also very very hot and humid. I have hiked the Precipice Trail before and it is super fun with iron rungs and climbing ladders up a cliff face. I wanted to take Matt on it but unfortunately in the early summer it is closed for nesting. So instead we decided on a similar style of “trail” called the Beehive Trail.
We parked at the Sand Beach parking lot, changed into as little clothing as possible that was still appropriate for hiking and lathered on the sunscreen. The temperature was already almost 90 degrees at 8am.
It felt very nostalgic to be back on an east coast trail after being in the dry west for so long on my hikes. I forgot how wet everything is, how the roots run like spiderwebs over the trail. The beginning of the beehive trail is through the woods and a relatively gradual climb. But soon it get’s steep very quickly to the point where you are climbing up instead of just walking down a trail.
The sides of the trail have no protection and you would not want to make a bad move here. You must give the trail your full attention. The views however are gorgeous but you have to stop to enjoy them so you don’t take a misstep. You can see all of Sand Beach and the Atlantic Ocean seems to just go on forever. I am reminded of the time spent here with good friends before I moved to Colorado.
Not long after we climb straight up, in some places on all four limbs, we reach the top. At this point it is now about 95 degrees in 90% humidity with no breeze and we are soaked in sweat.
It is not recommended that you go back down the Beehive Trail as it would be even more dangerous and hard to time the down climb with the crowds climbing up. There is another trail that goes down the backside and it much more mellow. I wanted to start heading that way but Matt really wanted to summit a mountain and checked the map looked into the distance and decided that we should go for Champlain Mountain.
Let it be known that I am not a fan of the heat, especially humid heat. I was starting to get cranky and I didn’t think we had enough food or water to make it all the way over to Champlain Mountain in the heat. We walked down the trail to The Bowl lake and sat down for a break to put our feet in the cool water. Finally, after some squabbling from me, Matt convinced me to make the hike with him.
The hike from The Bowl to Champlain is very mellow and the trail is easy to follow. We met a few other hikers on our way over to Champlain but for the most part we had the place to ourselves on this hot day. At the summit we finally felt the cool breeze off the ocean in a few places and sat in the shade of a couple of scrub trees. The view was breathtaking.
After spending a few minutes just taking it all in we turned around and headed back toward The Bowl and then down the Bowl Trail to the car. When we got back to Sand Beach we tried to go swimming and I hate to admit that even with how hot it was this Maine ocean girl still couldn’t bring herself to jump in the Arctic cold waters. So we went up to our knees and then called it good and headed back into Bar Harbor for lunch.
After lunch we did the loop drive around the park enjoy the air conditioning in my mom’s new Rav4 and then headed over to Echo Lake for a nice swim in the much easier to tolerate lake water before heading back down the highway to Portland.
Overall I wish we could have spent more time exploring other parts of the park but at least Matt got to see it and the Beehive Trail was super fun and highly recommended! I know I’ll be back again someday to try some other adventures in Acadia, hopefully when it’s less hot and I can stay for a few days.