Q. My husband and I are planning a trip to Acadia National Park and made reservations to camp at the Seawall campground. Can you suggest a two-day fall itinerary that would introduce us to the highlights and overlooked gems of the park?
A. “Fall is my favorite time here,” says park ranger Wanda Moran, who has worked at the park for 18 years. “It’s cooler, there are fewer people, and it’s great hiking and biking weather. Acadia isn’t very big, so two days is plenty of time to explore.” Moran suggests walking to the beach near the campground on the evening you arrive. “There’s a picnic area right on the water and big flat rocks where you can hang out and relax.” The nearby Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a beautiful place to watch the sunset, she adds.
The island has 125 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads for biking and walking, and the Park Loop Road, a 27-mile scenic drive which takes in the park’s apex, Cadillac Mountain (1,530 feet). “You’ll have a panoramic view of Frenchman Bay and the outlying Porcupine Islands,” says Moran. “My favorite hiking trail is the Beech Mountain path on the west side of the island,” she adds. “On the way up you’ll get a view of Long Pond (also called Great Pond), the largest lake on the island. At its peak the trail offers a stunning vista of Blue Hill Bay and the Cranberry Isles.” Acadia’s foliage starts to turn in September and is at its best in mid-October. “The colorful leaves of the beech, maple, oak, and birch trees contrast with the deep green coniferous trees,” she says. “We offer most of our park programs throughout the fall: boat cruises, walks, talks, hikes, and the tide pool program. Our night programs include ranger-led stargazing. Every year in September we have our Night Sky Festival, one of my favorite events of the year.” —Janelle Nanos
Originally rom the November/December 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler .