Most parents gauge the growth of their children by penciling their heights against the bedroom wall. My wife and I can tell the kids are getting on in years by what they accomplish at Acadia each summer.
We start by setting up camp. Acadia’s more popular campground, Blackwoods, sits off the congested Park Loop, so we opt for Seawall, four miles south of Southwest Harbor on Route 102A. Tent sites are nestled in the woods, and the campground is only a 10-minute walk to the tidal pools. After setting up camp, the first meal is always at Beal’s in Southwest Harbor: the requisite lobster roll ($12.95) with clam chowder ($4.95-$10.95). Then we’re ready for all the adventure Acadia holds.
My wife and I first brought Jake and Melanie to Acadia when they were 6 and 4. We began with the easy hikes up North and South Bubble, peaks that stand less than 1,000 feet, with the reward of freshly baked popovers at nearby Jordan Pond House afterwards. We also paddled on placid Long Pond to picnic on a pine-studded island. Each time we returned, the kids’ confidence grew, and we climbed more challenging peaks, including Acadia Mountain, where they’ve spotted bald eagles and viewed the precipitous cliffs of Norumbega Mountain sliding into Somes Sound, creating the only fjord on the eastern seaboard. Now Jake, 11, climbs up vertiginous rock walls on iron rungs on so-called trails, such as Precipice and Beehive, and his parents are the ones who are nervous.
It’s not all about climbing. We bike the shores of Eagle Lake, where a carriage path (one of the gravel roads that crisscross the eastern half of the island) circles for six miles under towering firs and over century-old stone bridges. We’ve gone on half-day sea kayaking jaunts in the Atlantic, where we’ve gone eyeball-to-eyeball with harbor seals and searched for sea glass on deserted Frenchman Bay islands. And we always book a day with Diver Ed, who goes scuba diving with a camera attached to his head, only to return to the boat with goodies such as sea cucumbers, starfish, crabs, and lobsters.
WHEN YOU GO
Seawall, Rte. 102A, Southwest Harbor. 207-288-3338; nps.gov/acad
Beal’s Lobster Pier/The Captain’s Galley, 182 Clark Point Rd., Southwest Harbor. 207-244-3202; bealslobsterpier.net
Jordan Pond House, Park Loop Road, Seal Harbor. Open mid-May to October. 207-276-3316; jordanpond.com
Dive-In Theater, College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St. (Rte. 3). 207-288-3483; divered.com
Acadia Bike, 48 Cottage St., Bar Harbor. 800-526-8615; acadiabike.com
Coastal Kayaking Tours, 48 Cottage St., Bar Harbor. 800-526-8615, 207-288-9605; acadiabike.com/kayakingpage.html
Reel Pizza Cinerama offers dinner and a movie at the same time. 33 Kennebec Place, Bar Harbor. 207-288-3828, 207-288-3811 (movie phone); reelpizza.net