Twin-lobed Mount Desert Island represents the vast majority of Acadia's territory and is best taken from the top. Bag the twin peaks of Acadia (681 feet/208 meters) and St. Sauveur (679 feet/207 meters) on a 5.5-mile (8.9-kilometer) loop from the Acadia Mountain trailhead. Views are rewarding: You'll look down into Somes Sound (a fjord, unless you're a nitpicker or a Norwegian nationalist) and across to the spruce-topped Cranberry Isles—and you can take a dip in chilly Echo Lake. On your second day, join National Park Sea Kayak Tours for a paddle of ultraquiet Blue Hill or Western Bay and work your way around harbor seals, porpoises, and uninhabited islands. Finally, spend a day biking the 12-mile (19-kilometer) Mountain Loop Trail, a carriage road route that begins at Jordan Pond, and cap off the afternoon with a popover at Jordan Pond House. What could be more New England?
Acadia has no official park lodge, but the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor is a great surrogate. The converted waterfront mansion at the mouth of Somes Sound is rich in Yankee flourishes like tournament croquet courts and a covered front porch, plus guests can commandeer rowboats or bikes ($203; theclaremonthotel.com).
Seven-day entry pass, $20. Campsites, $20 (nps.gov/acad). National Park Sea Kayak Tours leads half-day paddles for $48 (acadiakayak.com). Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop rents rigs for $21 a day (barharborbike.com).
Originally published as part of "Best of the Parks 2008," National Geographic Adventure magazine
National Parks Photos
From rusticators to Rockefellers, the people who created this Maine park are as colorful as its fall foliage.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.