Danielle Overlooking Jordan Pond

3 Perfect Days in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

By Danielle Cemprola on March 12, 2024
6 min read

Bar Harbor, Maine has long been a popular summer destination thanks to its mild temperatures, beautiful scenery, and delicious food (read: lobster) scene. If you happen to find yourself in Bar Harbor this summer, you’ll be thrilled to know you can experience a wide range of activities even if you only have 3 days in the area. Additionally, you can have a look at KÜHL's Acadia National Park camping guide.

Day 1: Short Hikes in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is nothing short of breathtaking. Featuring rocky cliffs towering above the ocean, beautiful hikes up soft rolling peaks, and views of Bar Harbor and its many islands for miles, one of the best things about the park is how accessible many of its hikes are. The longest hike in Acadia National Park is 3.5 miles one-way (up the South Cadillac Mountain Trail), which means that all of the other hikes in the park are considerably shorter. In fact, you can often experience great views during hikes of less than a mile. On your first day, get your bearings by driving Park Loop Road around the park. I downloaded the Acadia National Park Tour through GuideAlong, which offers interesting facts, tidbits, and tips about what to do in the park based on your location as you drive through the park. I can’t recommend it enough!

Jordan Pond

One of the most popular spots in Acadia National Park is Jordan Pond. The deepest body of water in the park, Jordan Pond offers beautiful views no matter where you look. The trail around the pond is about 3 miles long and is considered easy with the exception of some brief rocky sections. If accessibility is a concern, stay on the eastern side of the pond and walk from the south shore to the north shore, turning around at the bridge at the apex of the north shore. Otherwise, continue your loop and enjoy the views!

Bubble Rock

Another great short hike is the hike up to Bubble Rock. Clocking in at less than a mile, you’ll experience some elevation gain, but the hike overall is considered moderate. Bubble Rock itself is a glacial boulder that appears to be sitting precariously on the ledge of a mountain, but we’re willing to bet you won’t be able to move it. Visit South Bubble and North Bubble for some impressive panoramic views of the surrounding islands and the park itself!

Views from Bubble Mountain overlooking Jordan Pond in the FREEFLEX™ shorts and REFLECTION™ tank (right).

Of course, feel free to stop at any of the other short trails along the way. Don’t miss stops at Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Point as you make the drive around Park Loop Road! Round out your day with a lobster roll at one of the many delicious restaurants in downtown Bar Harbor. Dietary restrictions? No problem – the restaurants in Bar Harbor have tons of gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options.

Day 2: Nature and Lighthouse Cruise and Cadillac Mountain

Day 1 was a great warmup to get your legs ready for a big Day 2. On our second day in Bar Harbor, my friend and I took a nature and lighthouse cruise with one goal in mind: to see puffins, the tiny, adorable birds that summer off the coast of Maine. This 3-hour cruise left from downtown Bar Harbor and offered sweeping views of the incredible bays and islands on the way out to see the puffins. I’d recommend bringing or renting binoculars on the boat so that you can see the birds more clearly, as they are tiny – less than a pound! We also were lucky enough to spot some harbor seals playing in the water and of course, many of Maine’s famous lighthouses along the way.

View of one of Maine’s many lighthouses from the boat.

After the cruise, we refueled with (what else?) lobster before changing to get ready for our hike to Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain in Acadia National Park, measuring at just 1,530 feet above sea level. Driving to the top of the mountain requires a reservation that must be made online in advance, so hiking was the better option for us since we failed to plan ahead. Pro Tip: taking in the views from the summit at sunrise is supposed to be a magical experience! Unfortunately, it rained on the only day we could have driven to the top, so make your reservations in advance through recreation.gov if the weather looks good.

The South Cadillac Mountain Trail climbs the 1500 feet over the course of 3.5 miles, or you can take the North Cadillac Mountain Trail, which covers the climb in 2.5 miles. We opted for the scenic southern route and were rewarded with sweeping views at the top!

Hiking up Cadillac Mountain in matching shirts and the FREEFLEX™ shorts (left).

After Cadillac Mountain, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. We did the hike in about 3 hours including time at the top taking pictures, but it’s better to plan for a longer hike if you want to take your time. Fortunately, the sun doesn’t set til well past 8 this time of year, so you should have time for a hike even if you start later in the day. I’d recommend packing a jacket in case it’s cold at the top, as it was on the day we hiked.

Day 3: Exploring the Quiet Side of Mount Desert Island

Driving Park Loop Road in the summer, you’ve likely noticed tons of cars and people. The east side of the island is definitely the most popular side thanks to its infrastructure, but the west side of the island is also stunningly beautiful and is much quieter. If you want to get away from the crowds and still enjoy beautiful views, head to the western side of the island on your final day.  Our guided tour via the GuideAlong app pointed out lots of great spots for a short hike, which we used to figure out the best spots.

Beech Cliffs Trail

One of our favorite hikes of the whole trip was the Beech Cliffs Trail. This short, steep climb takes you from the shores of Echo Lake Beech up the cliffs of Beech Mountain through a series of switchbacks and ladders. The trail features the longest ladders in the park, but none of them are terribly high. It makes for an exciting adventure and a totally different type of hike than you’re likely used to!

Scaling the ladders on Beech Cliffs Trail in the WEEKENDR™ tight and BRAVADA™ shirt.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go back up the way you came. After reaching the top of the cliffs, you can head down the Canada Cliff Trail to get to the parking lot.

Flying Mountain Trail

Another unexpected surprise was the Flying Mountain Trail. Flying Mountain is one of the smallest peaks in the park, measuring less than 300 feet above sea level. However, the rewards for this short 1.5 mile loop are great. Reaching the summit, you’ll have sweeping views of Somes Sound and the many “cottages” (mansions by any measure) that dot the coastline. The loop continues to drop you off on a rocky, secluded beach that will make you feel like the only person in the world!

Enjoying the secluded beach in the WEEKENDR™ tight.

Danielle Cemprola is a freelance writer, marathoner x 52  and world traveler. Danielle and her husband, AJ, love to hiketravel, and eat their way across the planet. She's a self-described carry-on enthusiast who loves challenging herself to pack for any trip, no matter the length or destination, in a carry-on bag. When Danielle's not flying the friendly skies, you're likely to find her working at her day job as an environmental scientist - hey, someone needs to pay for all those plane tickets!

Feature photo: Overlooking Jordan Pond.

Danielle Cemprola
Danielle Cemprola

Danielle Cemprola is a freelance writer, marathoner x 52  and world traveler. Danielle and her husband, AJ, love to hike, travel, and eat their way across the planet. She's a self-described carry-on enthusiast who loves challenging herself to pack for any trip, no matter the length or destination, in a carry-on bag. When Danielle's not flying the friendly skies, you're likely to find her working at her day job as an environmental scientist - hey, someone needs to pay for all those plane tickets!

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