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Acadia National Park

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Acadia National Park

When Is the Best Time 

The best time to visit Acadia National Park in terms of pleasant weather is between late spring and fall. However it's often crowded. A less busy time with great weather are the two weeks after Labor Day in September until mid-September, just before the leaf peeping crowds arrive. Read our complete overview for every season below with many useful tips. Tip: If you'd like experience something special in Maine and get away from the crowds, check out these great tours: Lighthouse, Coastal & Sailing Tours in Maine. And one of the best guidebooks out there for Acadia N.P.: Acadia - The Complete Guide (via Amazon)

We also collected the the best tips for short hikes and walks, as well as insider tips on how to avoid the crowds during peak season and fall color tips (direct navigation):


Season Tips for Acadia National Park

May - June | Spring 

Both months bring warmer and drier conditions. However, in May the trees aren't green yet and it might be too cold for water activities. Temperatures: Up to 51-75°F / 11-22°C in June. It’s pleasant weather for hiking and other outdoor activities. The downside is, depending on how rainy it has been before, there are biting bugs from mid-May until mid-June. Many facilities are open and May is still a quiet month, except for Memorial Day Weekend (end of May). In June it gets already busier but not as crowded as in July and August.

July - August | Summer 

Warm, most pleasant temperatures. Peak season. It gets very busy, even more in August. Booked accommodations, waiting lines, crowded parking lots, congested Park Loop Road and busy view points. To avoid the crowds during peak season, get to the park early in the morning or in the late afternoon around dinner time. More tips on how to avoid the crowds can be found below. 

September - October | Autumn - Fall Colors 

Early September after Labor Day until mid-September is a nice time to visit the park: The weather is pleasant (49-68°F / 9-20°C), it's not super quiet, but the heavy summer crowds are gone and the 'leaf peeping' crowds haven't arrived yet. It gets very busy again from late September until mid-October as thousands want to see the leaf color explosion in fall. The best time to experience the amazing colors is usually mid-October. Tip: Read our '7 Must-Know Fall Color Tips' below in the main text. Book ahead of time if you need accommodation during the ‘leaf peeping’ weeks. After Columbus Day in mid-October crowds dissipate and rates drop. This is another sweet spot time without the heavy crowds. The last week of October ist often still ok for watching the fall colors, but it also gets cold and rainy. 

November | Late Autumn 

Even in early November, it's usually too late for spotting the beautiful fall colors. Temperatures drop (33-48°F / 1-9°C ), try to visit until mid-November. It’s colder, but still worth to visit the park without the crowds, almost in solitude. Many facilities are closed though. Definitely, drive the Loop Road which is usually still open in November.

December - March | Winter 

It’s off season and very cold. Average temperature in January: 14-32 °F / 0-(-)10 °C . Time for snowmobiling and skiing. Most hotels, restaurants, campsites and attractions are closed. The scenic Park Loop Road is also closed from December until mid-April (weather dependant). More winter activity info: NPS Acadia Winter Activities

April | Early Spring

Many visitors would say that April ist is still not pleasant with melting snow and muddy ground. Average temperatures are between 25-41° F / 1-11° C. However, we'd definitely recommend this month. You might be wondering why? First of all, from mid-April the scenic Park Loop Road usually opens. Second, it's still quiet without any heavy crowds of other tourist. You'll have no issues with parking and can enjoy some places almost in solitude. While there are still signs of winter, the scenery is just breathtaking. Some say the views are even more amazing with no leaves on the trees. Bottom line: We think a visit between mid and late April is a great time!


Weather

Regardless of monthly temperatures we described above, you should know that in Maine the weather can change dramatically during the year. However, temperatures along the coast in Acadia N.P. are moderated by the ocean. In the graph below you'll find the average monthly highs. Least rainfall is in June, July and August. But still, keep in mind that the weather is often unpredictable and can change instantly. Be prepared for rain at any time.

 

 
Avoiding Tourist Crowds

It gets crowded in Acadia National Park in summer and fall. A sweet spot time without the heavy crowds but mostly pleasant temperatures used to be those two weeks in September (after Labor Day until mid-September). However, it's not that quiet anymore during this time, especially in the recent years as visitation increased. Otherwise, there are two different sweet spots weeks with mostly pleasant weather and few visitors: A) The weeks after Columbus Day (mid-October) until early November.  B) Early June until mid-June: Although it's already busy at places like Bar Harbor, visitors report that most hiking trails in the park are not crowded.

 

However, if you plan to visit during the summer and leaf peeping time in fall, we have three great tips to avoid crowds:

1. Be Early or Late:
The majority of people tend to visit Acadia from mid-morning to afternoon. Get up early and try to be at the most visited spots or trailheads before 9:00 AM. Usually, the crowds start to arrive around 10:00 AM. Incredibly popular spots like the summit of Cadillac Mountain can be crowded earlier. Be there at 8:00 A.M. and you'll dodge the heavy crowds at the top. Another advantage to visiting early is the great light for photos and the higher chance of spotting wildlife. Check out this great Ranger Early Bird Video. Alternatively, visit the favorite spots later around dinner time or head out on a short trail just before sunset. Just after 5 P.M. is a perfect time since most are heading back for dinner around that time. However, make sure to be back when there is still daylight. It's too dangerous to hike in the dark.

2. Visit Quieter Areas:
Head to the less traveled places and trails. On the 'quiet side' of Mount Desert Island west of Somes Sound, try out Acadia Mountain Loop or the Beech Cliff Trail (see below in the hiking section). Or you could head to Schoodic Peninsula (Google Maps) on the mainland, or the quietest side of Isle au Haut, accessible only by mail boat.

3. Use the Shuttle:
If you are visiting between late June and Columbus day, use the free Island Explorer Shuttle. It takes away all the worries of full parking lots at trailheads and congested parking areas at popular places like Cadillac Mountain or Bar Harbor. There are bus stops at all well-known places. They even added one for the trailhead of Caddilac North Ridge Trail (see below in the hiking section). Additionaly, you can always ask the bus driver to let you off, even if it’s not an official stop.
 

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Where  
United States, Maine
Review and Tips 

Awed by its beauty and diversity people are drawn to Acadia National Park every year. It’s home to many plants, animals and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery. Visit must-see places and areas like the Park Loop Road or the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Useful Links
 
7 Must-Know Fall Color Tips & Facts

  1. Start: The leaves in Acadia National Park usually start turning in late September. Check foliage conditions here: Maine's Official Fall Foliage Website
  2. Peak Time: The foliage peak in Acadia National Park is in mid-October. The best weeks are the first until the third week in October.
  3. Crowds: During autumn it's very busy in the park from the end of September until mid-October (Columbus Day weekend).
  4. Hotels & Facilities: Prices are often at their highest until mid-October. Book well in advance. They drop a little after Columbus Day.  Most lodging establishments remain open during October as well as most restaurants and shops. However, a few close after Columbus Day weekend. Booking tips: Hotels Acadia
  5. Weather: The weather is often pleasant throughout October. Crisp and brilliant days. Gorgeous orange red and yellow leaves against a crisp blue October sky. Temperatures range between 40-60°F (7-15°C).
  6. Sweet Spot Week: Without the heavy crowds and lower rates, the week after Columbus Day is still great to watch the fall colors. 
  7. End: The last week of October is usually still good, but sometimes the best leaves already have fallen then. The first week of November is definitely too late, leaf peeping season is already over. 

Guides/Books

For your Acadia National Park visit, we definitely recommend a guidebook. There are so many wonderful details you would miss otherwise. Below are two guides/books we highly suggest to take a look at (click on the images to look inside):

 

 

 

7 Best Short Hikes and Walks

Acadia National Park has over 120 miles of the most scenic hiking trails at the east coast. Most trails are best used between early May until October/mid-November. Below is our selection of the best must-do hikes from very easy to strenuous, including 2 must-do hikes at Cadillac Mountain. One easy, yet amazing hike is the  Bar Island Trail, which can only be done during low tide (read below). More great hikes can be found at AllTrails - Trails in Acadia National Park (check the right sidebar). Make sure to read our hotel tips above. It's great to stay nearby, as you can start your hike early without the crowds.

Wonderland Trail | Very Easy


'Wonderland Trail' by Heidi, CC BY-SA, cropped

  • Length: 1.4 miles (2.2 km) round-trip
  • Details: Maine Trail Finder - Wonderland Trail
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Moderate, during mid-day you'll share the trail with others
  • Trail & Tips: Very easy, family friendly but still beautiful and unique hiking trail through a pine forest towards the rocky shoreline. Great to explore various tide pools. Although located on the quieter western side of Mount Desert, it's a popular trail. That means you'll share it with others during the day. Parking is also limited, although additional roadside parking lots are available. Arrive early in the morning, especially on weekends during peak seasons.
     

Bar Island Trail | Easy


Honeymoon Acadia by Ryan Hyde, CC BY-SA, color corrections

  • Length: 2 miles round-trip (can vary)
  • Details: Maine Trail Finder - Bar Island Trail
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Popular trail, you may have to share it with many others in peak season
  • Trail & Tips: Easy, family friendly hike (1-2 hours round-trip) to the highest point of Bar Island. It's a unique hike since the sandbar is only accessible for about 3 hours each day: 1.5 hours before and after low tide (Tide Table). Park somewhere in downtown Bar Harbor (not on the sandbar!). The hike starts at the end of Bridge Street. First, you walk across the sandbar to the island, then on a wide forest trail and a footpath over rocky terrain. Try to avoid weekends during peak season to dodge the crowds. Caution: You only have 3 hours during low tide. Starting too late means you'll be stuck on the island!

 

Ocean Path | Easy


'Ocean Path View' by NPS

  • Length: 4.4 miles (7.1 km) one way
  • Details: Maine Trail Finder - Ocean Path
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Popular, especially the parking lot at Sand Beach fills up fast
  • Trail & Tips: Also known as 'Ocean Trail' or 'Coastal Trail'. An easy, yet probably the most scenic and popular hike on a mostly level gravel trail. It starts at Sand Beach and ends at Otter Point (or vice versa), running parallel to Park Loop Road. The views are awesome with many stopping points to enjoy the stunning scenery. If you don't want to hike the whole trail, you can also access it from multiple parking areas along Park Loop Road. Due to its popularity and easy accessibility the parking lot as well as the trail get crowded after 10 AM. During peak season, start your hike early in the morning, preferably around 8:30 AM.

Jordan Pond Loop | Easy


'Jordan Pond - The Bubbles' by Heidi, CC BY-SA, cropped

  • Length: 3.4 miles (5.5 km) round-trip
  • Details: Maine Trail Finder - Jordan Pond Loop
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Popular, especially the parking lot fills up after 10:00 AM
  • Trail & Tips: This is a classic Acadia hike around the Jordan Pond in a beautiful scenic setting. It's an easy trail on gravel path. However, there are some wooden planks to walk and also some larger rocks to climb over. Nothing too difficult. However, it makes the hike even more exciting. In peak seasons you should arrive early around 9:00 AM at least, as the Jordan Pond North parking lot fills up really quick later. Alternatively the Shuttle Explorer Bus (check our tips section) is a great choice. After the hike, you may eat at the Jordan Pond House restaurant. Famous for its excellent food.

Cadillac Mountain - South Ridge | Moderate/Strenuous


Atop Cadillac Mountain (South Ridge) by Liza, CC-BY, cropped

  • Length: 7.7 miles (12.4 km) round-trip
  • Details: Main Trail Finder - Cadillac Mountain South Ridge
  • Maps: Topo Map , Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Only the summit is very crowded since most visitors drive up there by car
  • Trail & Tips: This is probably the best hike with incredible views along its way. It starts near Blackwood Campgrounds and ends there. The first half of the way to the top is a forest scenery, the second half takes you through granite formations and offers spectacular views. At the summit, you're very likely to encounter heavy tourist crowds, even at sunrise during peak season. However, over 90% of the visitors drive up there by car. While you could choose to drive as well, you'd miss all stunning spots on the trail. South Ridge loop is actually the most interesting hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain, but not the only one. In fact, several trails lead to the summit. Besides using the South Ridge Loop only, we can highly recommend the alternative below:

Cadillac Mountain – North/South Ridge | Moderate/Strenuous


'Cadillac Mountain' by NPS

  • Special: With the Island Explorer Shuttle
  • Trail & Tips: You'll hike the complete North Ridge and South Ridge trails, utilizing the Explorer Shuttle. This is a great alternative to hiking the South Ridge Loop only. It allows 'point to point hiking' while taking away all the worries about parking and getting back to your starting point. You get out of the Explorer shuttle at the trailhead of the North Trail (Google Maps), hike to the top, then down the South Ridge and get picked up again by the Explorer at Blackwood Campgrounds. Variation: While going down south, you go right at 'The Featherbed' and take the Pond Trail to the Jordan Pond House. You can get back into the shuttle right there as well. This is explained in more detail in this great TripAdvisor Post (first and second reply)

Acadia Mountain Loop | Moderate


'Acadia Mountain - Somes Sound' by Wayne Boardman, CC BY

  • Length: 2.7 miles (4.3 km) round-trip
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Less busy. Acadia Mountain is on the 'quiet side'
  • Trail & Tips: A great hike which leads to beautiful views including the majestic view into Somes Sound. It's a moderately strenuous hike, although some websites marked it as easy. The whole trail is very well maintained with excellent trail markers, including the trailhead. You'll be hiking through a forested area as well as gorgeous granite formations. The views near the summit are spectacular. Optional: You could extend this loop with a hike up to St. Saveur Mountain (total: 3.8 miles) for an even more challenging hike. Details and reviews can be found here: AllTrails – Acadia Mountain and St. Saveur Mountain Loop

Beech Cliff Ladder Trail | Strenuous


'Beech Mountain Cliffs' by NPS

  • Length: 2.4 miles (3.9 km) round-trip
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Quiet trail, not crowded at all. On the 'quiet side'
  • Trail & Tips: Wonderful views, spicy sections and … the ladders. This is one of the many Beech Cliff hikes. We chose this instead of the others, because of its unique ladder section. Great fun but not suitable for those with fear of heights. Due to its challenging character combined with its location on the 'quiet side', you won't see many others on the trail. An alternative to this one is the Precipice Trail. Even more exposed and challenging, using iron rungs and ladders. More like a Via Ferrata. The Precipice Trail is located near Bar Harbor: AllTrails - Precipice Trail

 

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Comments

Feb 06, 2016

When we first left Virginia on our roadtrip Acadia, Maine is what we looked forward to the most. Three states and four stops later you can imagine we were very excited to be there. Upon our arrival the main gate into the park provided us with an annual pass into all national parks for free. Right away we noticed that the people of Maine are friendly, active and pleasant company.
We arrived in Acadia national park on July 25, 2015 we had enough daylight to set up camp at black wood campground and admire the beautiful evergreen trees that kindly provided soft needles for the base of our tents.The community bathhouse was the perfect escape from the days Drive where we met different people with their own stories to tell.
On the same day arrival we were anxious to discover some of the park so we visited seal Harbor just east of the campground. that location alone took all the hours in the day frozen to that place from the mistque of the rock,ocean, and tree combination.by nightfall we were exhausted from the days emotions. So we had a quick meal of hotdogs and Smore's and called it an unbelievably beautiful night.
July 26, 2015 we got up a little after sunrise excited to start the day ahead of us. On our way to Cadillac Mountain we stop by Jordan pond the reflection of the pool and the mountains surrounding it was the closest thing to peace that I have witnessed after that we went forth to Cadillac mountain. Unfortunately we had to drive up the mountain due to limited time. Even though I would have loved to hike it instead. When we finally got to the top after numerous stops at overlooks the sun was slowly sinking behind the great Hills layering everything with a golden filter. At The same time we arrived so did a blanket of fog. That we watch engulf the mountains before us creating a melancholy atmosphere as if the mountain themselves knew it was our last night there we left when the sun disappeared and the stars came out the type of darkness that I only imagine could be found in the middle of the ocean the starry sky ripped open for us strewn across the galaxy.
In the morning packed up camp and left the campsite on our way out, we stoped by Sandbeach "to dip our toes in" so to speak. Wet sand sticking to our feet, the mist to our hair and the salt on our lips we left with heavy hearts and a promise on our tongues to return

Feb 09, 2016

Seems beautiful for hiking! Would love to see more pics :)

Feb 09, 2016

We have been going up to Mount Desert Island and touring Acadia for the last 5 years in a row. A hidden gem would be to follow the main highway north in Ellsworth,ME to the Schoodic Peninsula area of Acadia. It is simply beautiful over there too! The picture is on top of Cadillac Mountain for sunrise which is a great experience!

Feb 09, 2016

More pics!!

Feb 09, 2016

Park loop road...Acadia Islander 1/2 Day fishing trip 45.00 pp... Can't beat that...Jordan Pond house... Cadillac summit... Lobstah...steamahs... Happy!!!

Feb 09, 2016

What more could you want from a vacation!!!??

Oct 26, 2016

My wife and I enjoy going to Acadia National Park for its beauty and for my Belgian Sheepdog it is the most dog friendly national park. Bass Harbor Lighthouse is among my favorite places to visit when I am at Acadia. More photos HERE.

Jul 15, 2017

A view from Cadillac Mountain.

Aug 12, 2019

Thanks for this extremely helpful article. The hiking trails and the crowd dodging tips, as well as the hotel tips are great. We went to Acadia NP a really long time ago. Check the attached pic. This time it will be a lot more crowded probably.