Hiking, climbing, biking, oh my!

By Paula

The remnants of hurricane Laura “forced” us into Bar Harbor for 2 weeks!  Certainly not a problem as there is much to do here.   I find it interesting that we are in Maine and this is the 3rd tropical storm/hurricane or weather event we had to duck from or remain holed up.  Hmm, bad luck, wrong place/wrong time, global warming?  Who knows, anyway, we had more opportunities to trek through Acadia National Park which is awesome.  To review, Mount Desert (pronounced like your after dinner treat, dessert) Island is home to SW Harbor, NE Harbor, Seal Harbor, Bar Harbor, Acadia, and many more lovely places.  Mountainous and surrounded by water, what more can you ask for?

Downtown Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is situated on Frenchman Bay.   It is 274 nautical miles to Halifax, Nova Scotia or only 123 nm to Yarmouth, Canada.  So close, yet, still can’t get in to Canada, thanks to Covid.  Bar Harbor is a tourist stop and this time, thanks to Covid, we benefited as the usual cruise ships are not allowed this year.  I can’t imagine how crowded it would be with 3000 cruise passengers buying t-shirts as it was still quite busy around town.  There are many stores, restaurants, cafes, and ice cream shops along Main Street and West Street (the 2 main drags running along the water).  We hit a few of these during our 2 weeks and all were outstanding.  Acadia National Park is huge and you can access many of the trailheads by walking 2-4 miles from downtown Bar Harbor.  There is a Hannaford grocery store 0.6 miles from the harbor and a very nice natural food store, A and B Naturals Market, so provisioning is easy.  Here are some of the restaurants we enjoyed:

  1. West Street Café-nice cozy place, good seafood, and clean nautical décor. 
  2. Side Street Café-delicious lunch, good deals with chowdah and lobster rolls.
  3. Havana-a must for dinner, so delicious with interesting combinations and flavors.
  4. Café This Way-with Covid, only opened for breakfast, but, a mighty yummy one at that.
  5. Paddy’s-couldn’t miss an Irish pub as there must be about 5 or 6 of them in town.  We enjoyed a Guinness/hard cider and Irish bourbon wings during the torrential rains and winds from remnants of Hurricane Laura. Brian says Guinness is good for you.

There are many coffee shops but our favorite is The Independent. Good coffee, house baked goods, sandwiches, and a little market for beer, wine and snacks.  The owner was awesome, friendly and working his butt off.  He told us with Covid he doesn’t have the usual number of employees, plus being it was the end of August, the college help was going back to school.  He was putting in 80 hours a week even with closing a full day during the week just to get a break and get supplies.  It was worth his efforts for sure.  Other coffee stops included ChocoLatte, Sunrise Café, Lompoc, Coffee Matter.  All very good with pastries and more.  Of course, I must mention the delicious Chai spice protein smoothie bowl at Thrive Juice Bar and Kitchen. 

acai and chai spice bowls

I would be remiss to not mention the awesome fish market and farmers market.  Parsons Fish Market is about a 2 mile walk from town.  Delicious haddock, shrimp, and Arctic Char for some onboard dinners.  Also Peekytoe Provisions had amazing sushi-grade bluefin tuna.  When we arrived, they were unloading it and hadn’t even cut it yet, talk about fresh!!  An aside, Peekytoes are Maine crabs, small, sweet with large claws.  I had Peekytoe crab cakes one day and they are just delicious. The farmers market is on Sundays at the YMCA parking lot.  Very good veggies and more Maine blueberries!  What was it, Violet in the Willy Wonka movie turned blue from the blueberry gum?  I think we are going to either grow lobster claws or turn blue from all the lobster and blueberries we have eaten this summer! Oh, I almost forgot about the mega yachts around us in the anchorage and mooring field.  Rising Sun, owned by David Geffen, a 453 foot yacht that was beautiful.  Didn’t know, but, he founded Dream Works Pictures and several record labels.  He hangs with Leonardo, Oprah, Clooney, Spielberg to name a few.  Didn’t see any of them and we weren’t asked aboard, oh well. 

Peekytoe crab
Rising Sun

Ok, lets talk about Acadia.  I mentioned on the last post, we started our trek in SW Harbor with Acadia Mountain and St. Sauveur Mountain.  From Bar Harbor, Brian and I were able to get to many of the trails and climbs.  Trailheads were about 2-4 mile walks from the dinghy dock. Below I listed the trails/climbs we did.  There are so many options to choose from and it depends on what you like to do and how much time you want to spend.   We took 4-5 hours per hike on average which included the walks to the trailheads.   We enjoyed frequent stops to take in the view, have a snack and lunch.  We packed a lunch each day and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; they never tasted better on a huge cliff or mountain overlooking the ocean!  

  1. Cadillac Mountain, tallest, summit 1500 ft.  We climbed it via the Gorge Path which runs between Cadillac and Dorr Mountains.  The Gorge was not the plan as we took a wrong turn and it resulted in a challenging climb up huge rocks.  All and all this was a great mistake.  There was crystal clear water coming down the rocks and the canopy of trees made it shady, cool, and “silent.”  We only saw about 5 people this entire trek and it was worth it!  After summiting the mountain, we chose a little easier descent on the Cadillac Mtn North Ridge. 

2. Dorr Mountain, 1200ft.  This one was not the fav for B and I, but, if you love the stair climber at the gym, this is the one for you.  We summitted this one via the Ladder Trail.  It is unbelievable how these huge boulders and rocks have been meticulously placed to resemble stairs.  It just keeps going up and up and up.   After this, I may have to walk up the 8 flights of stairs to our condo when I am back home in Annapolis and forget the elevator!  To make the Ladder Trail more interesting there are, you guessed it, ladder rungs thrown in at various locations throughout.  Needless to say, the views of Bar Harbor, the water, and the numerous islands were well worth it. 

3. Champlain Mountain, not the tallest at 1000 ft, but, you can choose the Precipice Trail to summit it.  This is a short 1 mile trail, BUT it’s all vertical! There are numerous signs posted warning you this climb is exposed rock climbing with many obstacles and you should not do it if you are afraid of heights, or not steady on your feet.  Warning signs as you approach the trailhead let you know people have fallen and died on this trail…hmm a little disconcerting, but, we aren’t getting any younger so off we went!  Obviously, if you are reading this, we survived and no broken bones, torn ligaments or head injuries!   This trail, to me, required more mental concentration than anything else.  You need to climb the flat front of a mountain on ladder rungs and handholds.  Lucky for us, they were all intact and bolts were in place.  Just don’t look down until you get to the top, well worth the climb!!

These were our climbing challenges, but there are many flatter hikes with beautiful scenery like ponds, lakes, etc.  One day we rented bikes and rode the carriage roads.  There are 45 miles of crushed stone roads with many climbs and descents and the scenic sites of Jordan Pond, Bubble Pond and Eagle Lake.  We rode 22 miles and enjoyed utilizing other leg muscles after all the climbing.  Also, lovely paths to walk included the Jesup path on boardwalk planks, Hemlock path, and the Great Meadow loop.  Bar Harbor Shore path runs for 3/4 mile from the Bar Harbor Inn along the lovely shoreline. and Bar Island walk crosses the sand bar at low tide to the Island just opposite downtown Bar Harbor.  Know your tide table because you can’t get back to town from Bar Island for 9 hours if you miss low tide!  I still had some time to take a few runs as well.  Running in Maine has been so enjoyable with no to low humidity and the constant beautiful scenery of ocean and mountains.  One of my favorites was Bar Harbor to Sand Beach and Thunder Hole which was 10 miles roundtrip. Thunder Hole is a natural cavern formed under the surface of the water.  At high tide the water moves in and out it has a thunderous, almost deafening sound which is very cool.

Jesup Path
Bar Island
sand bar that is covered over at high tide

One day Brian and I took a lobster boat ride to Winter Harbor which is on the Schoodic Peninsula of Maine. It is due east of Bar Harbor and has the only mainland trail of Acadia.   We did the Schoodic Head Trail, flat and beautiful scenery along the water, no climbing or vertical here.  We also enjoyed an inexpensive delicious lobster roll and chowder at J.M. Gerrish Café.  The town itself is very sleepy but had a few memorable spots. One includes the Winter Harbor Five and Dime!  Who knew these were still a thing?  It had everything you can possibly want and then some, from curly phone cords to yarn and jam. Some of it had clearly been in inventory for decades. We enjoyed our boat ride to and from Winter Harbor where we chatted with a nice couple from CT.  Since it was only the 4 of us, I think the ferry captain decided to take us on the scenic route, piloting very closely along the rocky coasts of some of the “private” islands that pepper this area. 

With all the hiking and exercise , we decided to enjoy awesome massages at Tree of Life Day Spa in Bar Harbor.  It was  weird to have to wear a mask during a massage, but, it was worth it after all the activity in these 2 weeks.  Some well deserved self care!

We were also fortunate to meet back up with fellow AYC members living in Maine for 2 dinner parties.  One at Eva and Andrew’s home in NE Harbor and another at Chris and Carolyn’s home in SW Harbor.  Many great laughs, conversations and fun was had by all.  Thank you to all of them for hosting us and we look forward to seeing everyone back home in Annapolis this winter.

Our time in Bar Harbor was at an end and now we start South.  We rounded out Maine with one night anchor in Valley Cove in SW Harbor which was beautiful and lovely. For all you YouTube people, the famous boat Delos was anchored right next to us.  I don’t know much about them, but, Lisa, Rich, and Brian were all geeked out!  We then trekked to Monhegan Island about 12 miles from the mainland.  It has a very small mooring field and we arrived over Labor Day Weekend, so no mooring vacancies. Plan B, sailed us back to the mainland to New Harbor, but, it is too small of a harbor for Rover.  Lucky for us plan C took us to Round Pond.  All 4 of us had been there on land several years ago.  It was just lovely.  We anchored for the night and I enjoyed SUP in the morning.   We had coffee at the Round Pond Coffee shop and a visit to the Round Pond Granite Hall Store.  This store was a step back in time with penny candy, toys and games we enjoyed as kids in addition to Maine souvenirs, kitchen items, ice cream, etc.  Brian and I are on their Instagram as the owner was so excited to have people in the shop.  The last 2 stops in Maine included a night at Jewell Island in the Cocktail Cove anchorage with a lovely sunset to enjoy our dinghy “boatnic.”  We walked the island the next morning.  It has an interesting history with WW II bunkers and artillery gun batteries.  Some of the many tales include Capt Kidd hiding treasure here and ghost encounters, neither of which we experienced! We heeded internet advice and Lisa and I wore our “bug” suits, which was a good thing as we would have been eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Monhegan Island
Sunrise SUP in Round Pond
Jewell Island
Boatnic happy hour!
Bug suit

The final Maine stop was South Portland.  This area is quite nice, across the Casco Bay Bridge from downtown Portland and is home to Bug Lighthouse and Park and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse.  Both are in walking distance of the Spring Point Marina where we stayed. The Marina was great, large in size with very friendly harbormaster, Peter, and staff.  All the amenities were very good, heads/showers, laundry, game/tv room, and a courtesy car.  We were able to make the Trader Joe’s and Hannaford run with the car. I enjoyed a few runs, one to the Portland Head Light, about 6 miles roundtrip from the marina and another along the Greenbelt Walkway, a paved path that takes you into the small town area, to the Casco Bay Bridge and across to downtown Portland and Old Port, a 9-10 mile roundtrip.  We enjoyed one dinner out at the Marina’s restaurant, North 43 Bistro. Good food and views.  The coffee shop around the corner from the marina was 158 Pickett Street Café, a funky hippie joint.  

All in all, Maine was simply awesome.  Brian and I are enamored with the state, all the wonderful people, places, access to water, mountains and ease of travel to and from.  We still have a lot of sailing to do, but, Maine is a good contender for a future cottage to call home!! 

Heading south and home by mid October!  More to come….


Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
Portland Head Lighthouse

1 thought on “Hiking, climbing, biking, oh my!

  1. Thanks Paula, such detail. Brings back so many memories of time spent in SW Harbor and every hike we did when we were your age! The Precipice Trail was always closed as there was nesting in June. Seeing your photos, I couldn’t have done it! Yikes! Love the photos and how you all are living your dreams! I hear the BVIs are opening up December 1! Hmmmmm Safe travels back to Annapolis!

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