Ever heard of Acadia National Park? Well, I am spending this week there with my family. It’s one of my favorite places ever. Nature lover’s dream.
If you haven’t heard of Acadia National Park, it’s an amazing park located on Mount Desert Island in Maine. To quote the park’s official website, “Acadia National Park is a 47,000-acre Atlantic coast recreation area primarily on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. Its landscape is marked by woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the United States’ East Coast. Among the wildlife are moose, bear, whales and seabirds.” Sound amazing? Yeah, it is.
Anyway, we spent a week at the beginning of last summer here and had such a great time. We HAD to come back this year to explore some new trails and maybe revisit a couple favorites from last year.
We arrived yesterday and took the afternoon and evening to settle in. Today, we got up with the intention of getting out for our first hike of the trip. Rain was forecasted, and there was a dense fog, but that wasn’t going to stop us! Being we are staying in the Southwest part of the island, the “quiet side” of the island, we were looking for a trail in this area. We did most of the trails on this side of the island last year, but we did not climb Bernard Mountain. We started there today.
We began this 2.6-mile hike going up the Sluiceway Trail (rated strenuous). This trail is through a woodland area with lots of rocks and tree roots along the path. Various ferns, moss, and other greenery blanket the forest floor beneath towering evergreens. The name of the trail suits it well, a stream showering the rocks down the mountain.
The Sluiceway is a steady incline for 0.4 miles, followed by a very steep 0.5 miles. Our kids, Aiden (11), Delfina (10), Greyson (7), and Ari (3), loved the interesting landscape of this part of the trail and the challenge of climbing to the top. I admit, Ari rode in a carrier on my back the whole way up, but the other three managed completely on their own! I didn’t get many photos going up the Sluiceway. It just wasn’t the best time to break out the camera; didn’t want to misstep and wanted to stay focused on this steep climb complicated further by a slippery trail thanks to the wet weather we have been having.
Once at the top, reaching Little Notch at 890ft, we met up with a little newt. The kids enjoyed watching it for a while, and then we bid farewell to complete our trek up the mountain.
After a quick 0.2 miles, we reached the summit of Bernard Mountain.
The kids were happy to pose for a photo there… well, mostly anyway. My 7 year old, Greyson, isn’t always fond of having his picture taken. Still, he didn’t hesitate to give me the best he could to celebrate reaching the summit!
We rested a bit at the rocky top of the mountain, watching the wind move the fog around the mountain top, we continued on the Bernard Mountain Trail (rated strenuous) for 0.5 miles.
After this, the trail starts down the mountain to complete the final mile. It was much easier to stop and take some photos on the Bernard Mountain Trail. The dampness made it easy to spot the spider webs throughout the forest greenery. So many webs!
The various types of moss, and the sheer quantity of it, reminded me of our hike along the Great Notch Trail up to Mansell Mountain last year. That hike is quite a story all on its own though! I’ll save it for another post.
Coming down the mountain is when Ari decided he wanted to hike on his own. Out of the carrier he went. We got to hear about every pinecone, every rock, every tree, and how they are each part of their own family. I got to hear about every “challenge” he completed, even jumping over a single rock at a time. He requested high fives each time, and so a high five he received for every completed “challenge.”
Our daughter, Delfina, stayed by my side for pretty much the entire hike. It isn’t always easy to motivate her to get out and moving, but she really does love hiking once she’s out there. Loved hearing her tell me how much fun she was having going up the Sluiceway and how cool it was that there were so many bridges coming down the Bernard Mountain Trail.
Overall, this hike was a hit with the family, and everyone made it up the mountain and back. Once we were back in the car, we celebrated the kids’ accomplishment with congrats and a bit of cheering. After that? Back to the house for some well-earned, much needed sustenance! Excited to see what tomorrow will bring!