Maine’s Acadia National Park is home to over 120 miles of hiking trails and many hidden gems. We asked Ardrianna , a four-year Acadia ranger, to tell us about the places she explores daily and where she would recommend going first.
If someone were planning a visit to Acadia, where would you tell them to go first?
The Visitor Center in Hulls Cove.
Everyone’s perfect visit to Acadia looks a little different. Rangers in the Visitor Center can help you plan an itinerary tailored to your interests and recreational style. Plus, they can tell you what’s happening in the park during your visit. The park offers a wide range of programs for visitors, including special performances and demonstrations. For example, last summer there was a Wabanaki drum performance on the summit of Cadillac Mountain by the Burnurwurbskek Singers. It was a really special experience and if a visitor didn’t stop by the visitor center or pick up a schedule, they probably missed it.
What are five “insider” tips for a trip to Acadia?
1. Get up early, and enjoy the park while it’s quiet.
2. Ride the Island Explorer Bus. During the summer, there can be quite a bit of traffic and the parking can be difficult. If you ride the bus, you can enjoy the view as you ride and you don’t have to find a parking spot. Plus, if you use the bus you can hike from one place to another and not have to figure out how to get back to your car.
3. Come along on some ranger programs. The rangers really know the park. They will point out things that you might otherwise have missed and will share the park’s stories with you.
4. Be prepared for any kind of weather; the weather can change quickly here.
5. Don’t forget the quieter areas of the park like the west side, Schoodic and the outer islands.
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve seen at Acadia?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are many beautiful things in Acadia. I love the fog in the morning, the carriage road bridges, the smile on my daughter’s face when she’s eating blueberries right off the bush, the tiny world of a tidepool, and the spring canopy at Sieur de Monts that leads my imagination back to another time.
In your opinion, what is the best time of year to visit?
July and August are the busiest months; if you can come in the spring or fall, it’s quieter, and I love quiet. Of course, it’s also a little chillier then, so plan accordingly.
What kind of wildlife would you recommend looking out for?
Acadia is a great park for birding and a great place for tidepooling. We don’t have a lot of the big wildlife that people associate with Maine – bear and moose are exceedingly rare here – but you may see deer, turkey, porcupine and beaver, especially if you get up early in the morning or take a short walk at dusk.
Do you have any tips on how to not disturb the wildlife during your visit?
Give them their space. A good rule of thumb is if they notice you, you’re too close.
What piece of gear must one never forget when venturing in the park?
Can I cheat and mention a few? You definitely want to bring layers of clothing so you can adjust to sudden changes in weather. Also, good walking shoes or hiking boots are essential. Twisting your ankle on your first hike on a rocky trail doesn’t make for a good vacation, so make sure you’re prepared for the terrain with good footwear. Get a map before you head out on your adventure. If you are hiking alone, be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you’ll return. Please bring water, snacks and sunscreen.
Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite thing about Acadia National Park? Answer in the comments below, and we’ll donate $1 to our Million Moment Mission.