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Acadia National Park: Art of the Trail

Acadia National Park: Art of the Trail
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Today the roads feel as though they were designed solely in anticipation of the invention of mountain bikes. They’re perfect for a slow afternoon’s pedal–but I find that they’re also perfect for walking. I started the day climbing, occupied with the rhythm of my heart, then moved into hiking, which involved complicated negotiations among feet, legs, and rocks. Now I’m moving loosely with a comfortable rhythm, and for the last four miles, I feel as though I’m on autopilot.

Climbing and hiking are adventures of the body; walking is more an adventure of the mind, a time when your thoughts can unspool in a leisurely way. Only once is my breath taken away: when I stop to admire the view of Jordan Pond from the carriage road along the base of Penobscot Mountain and I happen to glance down. The road was built atop a 20-foot rock wall painstakingly crafted out of a talus slope; the labor to provide me with this simple view seems nearly Egyptian.

I arrive at the Jordan Pond House a little more than eight hours after I departed Sand Beach. A low-angled sun casts deep shadows across the lawn running down toward the pond’s shore. The grass is scattered with tables and people enjoying tea and popovers, a 19th-century island tradition that’s managed to go feral here and survive. The tea drinkers seem in no hurry to leave–a number of them have sent out exploratory parties to gather blueberries at the lawn’s edge–and I inquire at the desk about the wait time. At least 25 minutes, the hostess tells me.

I look at my watch. Then I look out front and see the free Bar Harbor shuttle bus ready to pull out. I realize that I can be back in town before I’ll even be seated here at the cafe. Bar Harbor, I know, has a bountiful supply of cold and excellent beer, which begins to have a large effect on my imagination. Beer isn’t quite as civilized a beverage as tea, but it’s equally ancient and possessed of comparable restorative properties. And I figure I’ve had enough culture today in the galleries of Acadia. I walk outside, clamber aboard, and set off on the last leg of my day’s journey.

For maps, brochures, and seasonal schedules and fees: nps.gov/acad/index.htm. For additional images of Acadia, visit: YankeeMagazine.com/more

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