Twin-lobed Mount Desert Island represents the vast majority of Acadia's territory and is best taken from the top. Bag the twin peaks of Acadia (681 feet/208 meters) and St. Sauveur (679 feet/207 meters) on a 5.5-mile (8.9-kilometer) loop from the Acadia Mountain trailhead. Views are rewarding: You'll look down into Somes Sound (a fjord, unless you're a nitpicker or a Norwegian nationalist) and across to the spruce-topped Cranberry Isles—and you can take a dip in chilly Echo Lake. On your second day, join National Park Sea Kayak Tours for a paddle of ultraquiet Blue Hill or Western Bay and work your way around harbor seals, porpoises, and uninhabited islands. Finally, spend a day biking the 12-mile (19-kilometer) Mountain Loop Trail, a carriage road route that begins at Jordan Pond, and cap off the afternoon with a popover at Jordan Pond House. What could be more New England?
Acadia has no official park lodge, but the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor is a great surrogate. The converted waterfront mansion at the mouth of Somes Sound is rich in Yankee flourishes like tournament croquet courts and a covered front porch, plus guests can commandeer rowboats or bikes ($203; theclaremonthotel.com).
Seven-day entry pass, $20. Campsites, $20 (nps.gov/acad). National Park Sea Kayak Tours leads half-day paddles for $48 (acadiakayak.com). Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop rents rigs for $21 a day (barharborbike.com).
Originally published as part of "Best of the Parks 2008," National Geographic Adventure magazine