One of the highlights of Acadia National Park and an easy access to many of the park’s attractions is the Park Loop Road. For most of its length the road is one way with opportunities to stop at any spot that catches your fancy.
Your first stop should be the Hull Cove Visitor Center.
Pick up your park map with all of the highlights of the loop road and don’t forget the other parts of the park when you are finished your drive. If you have a young one be sure to inquire about the National Park Junior Ranger Program.
Leaving the parking lot follow the signs for the Park Loop Road your first destination will be the Sieur de Monts Spring. Stop at the Nature Center and pick up some material about the local flora and fauna.
With your information in hand head to the wild gardens to study the local flora.
After viewing the gardens be sure to head up to the springhouse and Abbe Museum.
After your tour of the Sieur de Monts area look for sign designating the park loop road. You will pass the entrance station and fee area and the road will turn into a one-way lane. There are nice views of Frenchman’s Bay to your left and to your right up several miles you will see the turnout for the Precipice Trail.
The trail area is closed during nesting season of the peregrine falcon because of nest sites along the cliff face. As you can see from the photos the trail is not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights. Much of the trail consists of narrow ledges, iron rungs in the cliff face and ladders. Although less than a mile the hike can be quite taxing. A point of warning it is a lot easier climbing up ladders and holding on to rungs than it is easy going down. My nephew and I climbed the trail and did not have much difficulty but when we reached the top and looked down the sheer cliff that was another story. We decided to take the long route down to Sand Beach but that turned out to be a long seven mile hike. Be prepared with plenty of water and good shoes.
Sand Beach is the only stretch of sandy shore in the park and during summer months it is jammed packed with swimmers and sunbathers.
As you drive along there are many places to stop and see the ocean view.
The best area is Otter Cliff where there is ample parking and plenty of rocky shore to scramble on and explore.
One of the highlights is the famous Thunder Hole where surf crashes into a cleft in the rocky shore causing an explosion of foam and water. This especially dramatic during stormy weather.
You will find many more secluded coves and quiet stretches along the road where you can escape the throngs of people. Keep your eyes open to the right for Wildwood Stables the gateway to the carriage roads that lace the park. Whether you go on a carriage ride, rent horses or mountain bike these roads offer a “road less traveled” and are a great way to see Acadia the way it used to be.
You can see one of the carriage road gatehouses just past the entrance to the stables.
The Jordan Pond House is a great place to have lunch. The restaurant right on the loop road has great views of Jordan Pond and is renowned for their popovers.
Last stop on the road and you may want to save this for sunrise the next morning is the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. The twisty access road winds its way to the top of the highest mountain on the eastern seaboard of the United States and weather permitting there are numerous viewpoints offering spectacular scenery.
There are dozens of other great areas in the park but the Park Loop Road offers easy access and spectacular views to some of Acadia’s highlights.