Sea and Mountains Along the Rockbound Coast of Maine

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13232A, Lodge


  • Explore the trails and sights of Acadia National Park and Maine's downeast coast
  • Enjoy a free day to whale watch, kayak, mountain bike, etc.


  • Economical, highly rated motel on Mt. Desert Island
  • Breakfasts and lunches (but not dinners)


DatesJul 7–14, 2013
StaffGail Tooker

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Trip Overview

The Trip

This outing will feature hiking in Acadia National Park, as well as visiting lesser known -- yet equally beautiful -- sights of nearby coastal areas, including an offshore island. 

Established in 1929, Acadia National Park was the first national park east of the Mississippi River.  While many parks were created to protect a single natural feature, Acadia's claim to fame is its wide variety of ecosystems, including ocean, beaches, mountains, lakes, streams, wetlands, forests, and meadows all found within 45,000 acres. Acadia is one of the ten most visited national parks in the country, receiving over two million visitors per year.  We will visit both the Mt. Desert and the Schoodic Peninsula portions of Acadia Park. 

Beyond Acadia, along the "downeast coast" of Maine lies an area where far fewer tourists go, but that's nonetheless fascinating and much less crowded in the summer. This outing will take us to some of the downeast coastal area's well-kept secrets, such as Schoodic Mountain, Donnell Pond,  Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, Pigeon Hill and Blue Hill. We will also venture offshore to visit Frenchboro Long Island, accessible only by ferry, where nearly two-thirds of the island has been preserved by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Trip participants will have one "free choice day," where they may select from a wide variety of activities available on Mt. Desert Island. The trip leader will supply additional information on activities. The cost of these activities is not included in the trip price and choices must be booked separately; however, the leader will be happy to assist with bookings.


Day 1: Please meet at the motel at 2:00 p.m. to check in and get settled. We will then drive to Acadia Park for a tour of the park's most famous sites, including Cadillac Mountain, Thunderhole, and Jordan Pond, as time allows.  Participants who cannot arrive at 2:00 p.m. will be able to check in at the motel anytime after that, and may be able to join the rest of the group at the park.

Day 2: We will spend the entire day visiting other features of Acadia National Park, including Seawall, Wonderland, Sieur de Monts Spring. We'll also have time to hike on some of the park's spectacular mountain trails. The photo with three people in it shows the view from "The Bubbles" overlooking Jordan Pond.  The photo of one man in a blue shirt shows the view from the summit of the Precipice Trail (which is so steep that there are metal ladders installed into the rock in many places).

Day 3: Today, we will explore the Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia National Park and visit the picturesque village of Winter Harbor where we will have dinner.  

Day 4:  Participants' "Free Choice Day"! Today, you choose what you would like to do in the Bar Harbor region. There are whale watching, kayaking, mountain biking opportunities and much more. More information will be provided, including prices and bookings deadlines. These activities are not covered in the trip price, but the trip leader will be happy to assist with bookings. Participants may certainly choose to engage in additional hiking opportunities within the park at no extra charge.

Day 5: Today, we will visit some "well-kept secrets" of the downeast Maine coast, all within easy driving distance from our motel base. We will hike in Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge and Pigeon Hill preserve in the morning and then climb Schoodic Mountain (rated easy to moderately strenuous) and/or swim in Donnell Pond in the afternoon.

Day 6: Today, we will take the Maine State Ferry from Bass Harbor to Frenchboro Long Island, where we will have a guided, all-day hike of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserve on the island.  We will return to Bass Harbor on the late-afternoon ferry.

Day 7: Today, we will head to the Blue Hill Peninsula, just southwest of Mt. Desert Island, to visit the historic town of Castine and to climb scenic Blue Hill (rated easy to moderately strenuous).

Day 8: The trip will officially end right after breakfast.



Getting There

Bar Harbor Airport is host to Cape Air, which flies once a day from Boston.  Bangor International Airport is served by Delta, US Airways and Allegiant Airlines.  From there, it is necessary to take a bus or limousine to Ellsworth or Bar Harbor and then taxi to the motel.  It is also possible to fly to Portland, Maine, which is served by many more airlines (Air Canada, Air Tran, Continental, US Airways, Delta, Jet Blue and United) and then take a bus or limousine to Ellsworth or Bar Harbor and then taxi to the motel. You may also be able to rent a car at either the Portland airport or the Bangor airport. You are, of course, more than welcome to drive your own car.  We encourage, but cannot officially set up, carpooling among trip participants.

The trip leader will have a seven-person van that can be used to pick up participants who fly into Bar Harbor airport.  Trip participants will need to make their own travel arrangements from the Bangor or Portland airports.

Accommodations and Food

We will be staying at an economical, but highly rated motel on Mt. Desert Island. The name and location of the motel will be sent to registered trip participants in the pre-trip communications. We will be eating breakfasts at our motel and then packing lunches for each day's excursions. Every effort will be made to accommodate personal needs and preferences with regards to food (e.g. Vegetarians, meat eaters, gluten and lactose intolerant, etc. will be accommodated as much as possible.)  Dinners will be enjoyed at a variety of local restaurants and, of course, lobster will always be available! The cost of breakfasts and lunches, snacks and appetizers are included in the trip price. Dinners are not included in the trip price, thereby giving each trip participant the opportunity to spend as little or as much as he/she would like and to even share the cost of meals if so desired. The trip leader will choose the restaurants, but suggestions from trip participants are always welcome and will be taken into consideration.

Trip Difficulty

The hikes on this outing range from easy to moderate in difficulty.  While the mountains in Maine are small compared to those in the West, trails can be steep. Some of the trails in Acadia National Park require "boulder scrambling," however participants may opt for easier walks in the park. The trails in the "downeast" portion of the trip are generally easier than those in Acadia. The website describes what you can expect from trails rated "easy," "moderate," etc. 

Equipment and Clothing

A packing list will be sent to trip participants in advance of the outing.  In general, it is wise to bring raingear, as thundershowers are certainly possible and fog can be damp. Daytime temperatures in July can range from the low 60s to the high 80s or low 90s, so a variety of clothing is necessary.  Plan to dress in layers!  Nighttime temperatures are usually "good sleeping weather" (generally in the 50s).

It is wise to bring a small backpack for hiking excursions that can accommodate your lunch and a water bottle, as well as a jacket, hat, gloves and raingear.  It can feel a lot chillier than it actually is when out on the water or in the fog. However, having said all this, your leader feels that Maine has the most beautiful summers in the entire country!



  • Berrill, Michael and Deborah.  A Sierra Club Naturalist's Guide: The North Atlantic Coast Cape Code to Newfoundland.  Sierra Club Books.


Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Acadia National Park and Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge.



Gail Tooker lives in rural upstate New York where she teaches Science and Environmental Education at the State University of New York at Cortland. For almost 20 years of her adult life she lived in the state of Maine. She has served as co-leader for several Sierra Club outings in Maine, upstate New York, Vermont, and Texas. In her spare time she gardens, hikes, cross-country skis, kayaks, and travels abroad.

Assistant Leader:

Melissa Nicholson

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