If you visit Maine there are two places that you will definitely not want to miss. We had already planned on staying in both of them, but especially after being told by many of the locals that they are the must see places in the state we really had to see for ourselves. These two places are Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park. Both of them were beautiful and we are so glad we had the opportunity to experience them. Not only were the places themselves beautiful, but we found some great campgrounds to stay in and made some new friends too. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to visit Maine, it is such a beautiful and natural place.
There are many campgrounds to choose from near Acadia National Park. We originally thought we would stay in the national park campground, but I read some reviews that said it might be tricky for larger RV’s, so we decided to stay just outside the park at Bar Harbor Campground. This campground did have some tight spaces, but we ended up finding a pull through space that worked out for us because we had some great neighbors. In the campground there are all different types of sites, from full hook-ups to tent sites, so it has something for everyone. What we really liked about it was the free shuttle service that has stops in Bar Harbor as well as throughout Acadia. It also had a great playground overlooking the ocean, a pool, several bathroom facilities, and an arcade to entertain the kids while we waited for the shuttle. Our kids made friends at the playground right away and they just happened to be our neighbors. They all became friends and even came over to play one rainy evening. Chris was invited by their Dad to go on a hike up the precipice trail, the most dangerous trail in Acadia. One of our favorite things about this lifestyle is all the great people we get to meet and the new friends we make.
Taking the free shuttle into the park is a great idea. It not only saves on gas, but also on trying to find a parking space. Acadia does not have any large parking areas for the various sites you will want to see. The Hulls Cove Visitors Center has many parking spaces, but inside the park it is definitely more limited when it comes to parking access. Plus by taking advantage of the shuttle you are helping to protect this beautiful landscape for future generations. Acadia National Park is much larger than it seems and we only saw a small piece of what it has to offer. We enjoyed a wonderful Ranger led hike where we learned about some of the history and the geography that make Acadia a special place. Jordan Pond was a great place to hike with the kids and we stopped along the way to have lunch near the water. Chris hiked up the precipice to the top of Mt. Champlain and the kids wanted to go to, but the precipice trail is no place for kids so we took them on a trail up the back side of the mountain to see that beautiful view for ourselves and it is definitely worth it. At low tide there is an island you can walk out to located on the edge of Bar Harbor. We took advantage of a really nice sunny day to walk out to it. The kids loved it because if the tide comes back in before you leave you might be stranded out there until the next low tide. Only one sandy beach can be found within the park and it is a popular place, but we enjoyed playing in the sand and watching the waves. Another Junior Ranger Badge was added to the kids’ collection along with more knowledge of this amazing country.
A few hours north of Acadia you will find Baxter State Park. Maine is very proud to have this place and after having been there I know why. It is kept in as close to it’s natural state as any place that allows people in can be. The roads inside aren’t even paved to help keep it’s natural beauty! It was originally donated by Percival Baxter in 1931, he was the 53rd governor of Maine. They have acquired more land since his original donation and the park is now over 200,000 acres. It is so large and we only stayed a few days so we only saw a glimpse of it. But what we did see of it made us hope to someday see more.
Our campground was almost an hours drive from the entrance to the park which was a little further than we had intended to be, but we liked the campground. It was called Pinegrove Campground and has new owners that are working to improve it. The site was really nice; right on the river so the kids caught plenty of frogs and toads. They have canoes and kayaks to borrow for free, all you have to do is sign the waiver (they even had life-jackets in kid sizes!). We had a great time taking one out and even stopped off at an island, you can check it out in this video. Maine is a great place to enjoy being in nature.
Our first stop when visiting state and national parks is usually the visitors center so this naturally was our destination when arriving in Baxter. We were able to ask about trails and the kids got books to do their Junior Park Ranger program. After getting some maps of the area we were going to hike around we headed in to the park. It really is a beautiful and natural place, definitely worth visiting (and paying the $15 if you are from out of state). The plan was to hike around Sandy Stream Pond where we hoped to see a moose as they are often seen in that area, but first we took a detour to see the bog. It was a very easy loop trail with tons of cool plants, especially the carnivorous ones. Sandy Stream Pond trail is also pretty easy with some boardwalks and several overlooks of the pond. It was so peaceful and we enjoyed just sitting looking out over the water. While we did not see any moose, we did get to see many birds and a beaver too. Another hike we did was to an ice cave. This trail took us through beautiful forest and up a mountain. There was a very nice overlook with a beautiful view, but the kids really wanted to see the cave. There were metal rungs in the side of a rock to climb down to get into the cave. It is a talus cave that was formed by glaciers piling up rocks that eventually created the cave. It has snow and ice in it pretty much all the time. It was really cool to see and be able to go into it. The kids were disappointed that it wasn’t bigger, but Trip was excited that he found the ice. It was under some rocks and we almost missed it. After we climbed out we walked a little further to the water before heading back to the car and the kids found toads all the way back. Baxter State Park was an amazing place and one I would truly recommend seeing at least once.
I am sad to think of leaving Maine, it has been such a pleasant experience for us. Knowing that it will be getting cold soon helps to make it a little more bearable. The value of the experiences we’ve had and the memories we’ve made is immeasurable. Maine can now be a place that I remember not just a picture in a book. For me there is no price that can be put on being able to say I was there. I hope that if you have never been to Maine you make it there someday because it is amazing!
Here are more photos and links for the places we mentioned:
Acadia National Park
The Island Explorer Shuttles
The Bar Harbor Campground
Baxter State Park
Ice Cave Trail Near Baxter State Park
If any of the pictures are worth printing it is this dragonfly down by the lake
Or this view of Sandy Stream Pond in Baxter State Park
But I think this is my favorite picture from these areas!