Acadia National Park, Precipice Trail

36 Hours in Bar Harbor, Maine

September 26, 2020, marked five years of marriage for Brian and me! Our original plan was to celebrate our anniversary by doing nothing, but my parents — or as we like to call them, “our roommates” — pretty much kicked us out of the house for the weekend. A very generous offer, which meant they would spend their anniversary (they celebrated 39 years of marriage on September 27!) watching Annie and Ellie while Brian and I frolicked around Maine.

We only had two-ish days away: The plan was to leave on Friday around 2 PM, and to be back in time to see Annie before bedtime on Sunday. We originally talked about spending the weekend in Portland, ME, since it’s a less than two-hour drive from where we are in New Hampshire, but then we said screw it: Let’s go to Bar Harbor! Quite a bit further (five-ish hours of driving each way), but why not?

We stayed at the Hampton Inn Bar Harbor. Nothing fancy, but we were using Hilton points (“free” trip!), and this was close to the center of town and to Acadia National Park, which is where we planned to spend the majority of our time. They had tons of Covid procedures in place, we didn’t use any housekeeping services (towel changes, bed making, etc.), so no one was in our room once we checked in), and masks were mandatory on the hotel property. I wasn’t fully sold on the idea of staying in a hotel, but once we were there, I felt fine about it. They do offer a continental breakfast, and I saw that they had pandemic procedures in place for that, too (not a buffet-style, pre-packaged everything, socially-distant lines while waiting for food), but we ate breakfast elsewhere.

Trip highlights!

We left Contoocook at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and made a stop in Portland, ME, for an early lobster roll dinner. My goal for the weekend was to eat as much lobster as possible. And I crushed it. We parked and walked around Portland a bit (again, everyone was wearing masks, outdoor dining was in full force, and it wasn’t too crowded walking around), and had ordered ahead so we could pick up dinner (lobster rolls and crab and tuna, ohhhhhh my!) from Eventide Oyster Co. The lobster rolls were so good. It was a very, very sad moment when I took a big bite and dropped half the lobster onto the ground. Very sad.

We got back on the road and made it to the hotel sometime after dark. We checked in and I was delighted to see that The Holiday was on TV. We fell asleep sometime after Mr. Napkinhead appeared onscreen.

I missed Annie and Ellie during the weekend, but I’ll be honest: It was really, really nice sleeping without having a baby monitor on the nightstand! (Annie’s sleep has been very meh for a while now, and sleeping on my own terms was amazing.)

Saturday was our full day in Bar Harbor! Brian and I were both up by 6:30 AM, because our bodies are conditioned to never sleep in even when childless and away for the weekend. But that was good! It was good to get an early start.

Our first stop was into Bar Harbor, where we drove around and explored and I immediately fell in love with this cute coastal town. (And again, everyone was wearing masks, indoors and outdoors, and all the restaurants were taking phone numbers for contact tracing. A+ job, Bar Harbor! And Maine in general, from what we experienced!)

We got breakfast at Cafe This Way (both days!). Chocolate chip pancakes for me (the best I’ve ever had — nice and thin!) and lobster and spinach Benedict for Brian. (He let me eat all of the big pieces of lobster, which felt like a wonderful anniversary gift!) There were long lines both days we went, but they moved pretty quickly, and the outdoor dining set up is awesome.

Then it was into Acadia National Park for the first hike of the day: Precipice.

This was the hike everyone said we “had to do,” and I absolutely see why. It was awesome, and definitely one of the most fun hikes I’ve ever done. It’s very physical, and requires good shoes. (On our way down, we saw a guy headed up wearing boat shoes and I was like, That is not wise, sir.) I was very happy to be wearing my new hiking-friendly shoes.

We got to the trailhead at 9:30 AM, and it was already pretty packed. Lots of locals were saying this was the busiest they had ever seen Acadia, and even though we had to park way, way, way down the road from the trailhead, once we started hiking, the trail was fine. But if you’re thinking about doing any of the popular hikes in Acadia, I’d recommend getting an early start!

Hiking precipice was a very physical activity. Lots of full-body adventuring and climbing, and lots of rocks and ledges and things to crawl up, through, and over. It took us around three hours start to finish, which included plenty of stops for photos and to say, “THIS IS AWESOME!” I pretty much haven’t shut up about this hike because I just enjoyed it so much.

Once we got back down and to the car, we decided to just cruise around the main Park Loop Drive, stopping whenever we felt inspired.

We stopped to see (and hear!) the waves crashing at Thunder Hole (it was low tide, but still very cool!), and pulled over anytime we saw really impressive foliage, which was everywhere. I LOVE FOLIAGE. I am so happy to be in the northeast during this time of year! It has always been my favorite thing.

By 2 PM, we were hungry hungry hikers, so we left the park and went back into town for lunch at Side Street Cafe. Another highly recommended place that was so worth the hype. We both got lobster rolls, of course, and split a cup of lobster stew, which was one of my favorite things I had all weekend. Get the stew! And the lobster roll. Always get the lobster roll. Oh, and I had a strawberry margarita. Happy anniversary!

Then it was time for our second hike of the day: Beehive! Beehive was short, but steep, and so fun. We were behind a very cute older couple that did not realize what they had gotten themselves into, and the woman was very nervous and her husband was very encouraging, and we were so excited to reach the top with them because they crushed it!

I was never nervous during Precipice, but I was very nervous hiking Beehive. By the afternoon, it had gotten super foggy and really windy and we were basically hiking through a misty cloud. The trail was packed, and there was a lot of stopping and waiting on ledges. One big sneeze and it would’ve been game over! Fortunately I am not allergic to fun, so I didn’t sneeze my way off the mountain. But it was sketchy at times!

We got to the top, excitedly, and couldn’t see much. Just fog! Kind of a bummer to make it to the top without many views to bask in, but the hike itself was awesome. I definitely recommend both Precipice and Beehive. Just make sure you’re wearing hiking boots or shoes (nothing smooth-soled!).

Once we were back down and back to the car, we decided to just cruise some more. We checked out the Sand Beach (so beautiful!), and drove around the Northeast Harbor, which is where I would really like to live someday. Those houses! Sorry, those mansions! I was rapidly scanning realtor.com hoping to find a mansion for sale for $100, but sadly, nothing.

We saw the Balance Rock right on the water in Bar Harbor, and sat outside for drinks at the Ivy Manor Inn (so pretty!). We stopped by a few places in pursuit of a yummy dinner, but the waits were all around 90 minutes, so we ended up getting takeout from Geddy’s and eating it in bed at the hotel before passing out for the night.

Which brings us to Sunday!

We were back at Cafe This Way by 9 AM, and waited half an hour or so for a table. (The host there is the BEST. He is so fun. When he finally called our name, I apparently jumped up and cheered? And he said, “Girl, let’s get you fed. You have low blood sugar.” It was funny. I wanted to be his friend.) I got the chocolate chip pancakes, again, and Brian got blueberry pancakes (I broke my lobster-at-every-meal streak!), and we both cleaned our plates and were so, so full. Recommend.

We wanted to do one more fun hike before heading back home, and we wanted to do the Bubbles Divide trail. The parking lot at that trailhead is TINY, though, and we waited a bit and circled the area a bunch of times, but finally gave up. So we explored Jordan Pond and went to the gift shop and got some little gifts for everyone (“Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Thank you SO much for watching our child and dog while we played all weekend! Here, we got you some moose socks!!!”), and definitely drove the full loop twice before realizing we missed a turn somewhere. But fortunately, when we made our way back to the Bubbles trailhead, we got a spot! Very exciting!

And that hike was fun! I forget which way we went up and which way we came down, but we probably should have done the reverse. (We went up the “easy” way — a mostly dirt path, very walkable — and came down the rocky way, which was fine, but I would’ve preferred climbing up the rocks instead of delicately stepping my way down them.) It was super foggy at the top, so we didn’t really get to enjoy the views of Jordan Pond, but it was still fun! And we got to see Bubble Rock at the top, which defies gravity and I don’t understand.

And then that was pretty much it! I was, of course, happy to get back to Annie and Ellie, but sad to leave. Acadia National Park is incredible, and I can’t wait to go back. I want to run along the waterfront and on the carriage roads, and I want to rent bikes and cruise around the park, and I want to get more of those chocolate chip pancakes.

One other tip: We had very little cell service once we were inside Acadia National Park. If you plan to follow trail maps (we used alltrails.com), download the trail maps and anything else you may need ahead of time so you don’t need to rely on having service later. Rookie mistake.

Everyone in Maine was so nice. Everything was so beautiful. All the lobster was so yummy.

If anyone has a home for sale in Bar Harbor, let me know. I’m interested.

And Happy Anniversary, Brian. Here’s to the next five, and the five after that, and all the fives after those fives.

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Ali

Ali

21 Responses

  1. My husband and I wanted to go to Acadia on our honeymoon last month but we were unable to comply with their Covid procedures so we ended up staying in Vermont instead. I’m so jealous you guys got to go! We did Beehive when we were there previously and I was under the impression Precipice was much more difficult, so I’m glad to heat that isn’t necessarily the case! Happy Anniversary!! I miss the blog a lot so I was excited to see this post come up.

  2. I love this. Grew up in Maine. It’s my home. Even ride is amazing. You have to go back and spend a weekend eating your way around Portland…it’s a must! So fun to see another perspective of bar harbor and Acadia. You spent your weekend playing in the areas I grew up in. It’s amazing the perspective once you’re grown and leave. Maine is amazing. You should definitely go back and play

  3. Your blog popped up randomly as a recommended read on my Google feed. We sat in front of you guys at Cafe This Way on Saturday! I was facing you and remember your headband. I creepily watched you take that coffee mug pic (lol). My husband and I essentially did all the same things in our 3 day trip 🙂 Glad you both had fun and happy anniversary!

    1. Oh my gosh, hi! That is hilarious!! So you’re saying you witnessed me absolutely downing that plate of pancakes then? LOLLLLLL. (Also what did you order? I am sure I remember seeing you because I was checking out the plates of everyone around us!) Hope you had a wonderful trip!

  4. Wow. You really missed out on going to Jordan Pond house inside the national park for afternoon tea and pop overs. Plus the lobster bisque or lobster stew is by far the best thing on the island. Plus you were in Bar Harbor and you didn’t want to go to any of the actual lobster pounds? You got to get with the picture

    1. We went to the Jordan Pond House on Sunday before we left, but we had NO ROOM in our bellies for food at that point! We’ll be back, I’m sure! It was such a quick trip, there was so much we didn’t get to do!

  5. We started going to Acadia National Park on recommendation from a friend in 1975. Our trip started in Rochester NY and after driving 14 hours with our children who were 5 and 1 at the time we found a marvelous campground on Route 198 Mt. Desert Campground.
    For 30 years we camped almost every summer for a week at this campground and it was just the most enjoyable week each year we went. One year after our children were grown my husband and I went for our trek to Mt. Desert Island and we rode out a hurricane that blew up the coast in our tent covered in tarps. We were the only campers left in the campground that year as all others high tailed it out of there.
    The memories we share of this beautiful place are treasured by our whole family and hope to do a family trip with all the grandchildren and their parents within the next few years. Unfortunately camping is not an option for us anymore due to some health issues but would love to rent a big camp and share this wonderful place with the whole family.
    Was so much fun reading your tale of such a great way to spend your anniversary and with you being so close try would be nice to go any time of the year.

  6. Acadia has always enchanted us.
    I introduced it to my husband over 50 years ago and we have stayed there at least 45 of those years. There is such a peacefulness there…as soon as we cross onto the “island” it’s a feeling of leaving the world behind. We have introduced many people to Acadia and everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it…its a joy to see our son and his family love it as much as we do…
    It’s changed over the years but it still remains a stunningly beautiful refuge on the east coast…we recently visited Alaska for the second time and always comment that Alaska is Acadia on steroids.

  7. I think you were ahead of me and my daughter coming down beehive. I said I was following AllTrails and your husband said his map wouldn’t load. I thought you two looked very happy without a care in the world .. very refreshing. Acadia is a very special place.

  8. You two are so cute .. brought back the memories of when my husband
    and I went annually after every Labor Day. He now has cognitive issues and sadly will never be able to go again ?
    You are a braver soul than me hiking Precipice, I chickened out when we hit the rungs and made the mistake of looking down.?
    Thanks for your story ❤️

  9. You two are so cute .. brought back the memories of when my husband and I went annually after every Labor Day. He now has cognitive issues and sadly will never be able to go again ?
    You are a braver soul than me hiking Precipice, I chickened out when we hit the rungs and made the mistake of looking down.?
    Thanks for your story ❤️

  10. Your descriptions of your weekend made me laugh out load, especially going to sleep after Mr. Napkinhead! Love that movie.

  11. We went to Acadia/bar harbor about a month ago!! And also LOVED precipice and the pancakes at Cafe This Way! (but i kept calling it cafe your way??) Definitely a fantastic trip. We brought Alfie with us and he loved it (we were there for longer so could leave him back for precipice/beehive but brought him on all the other hikes) and stayed at a house about 30 min from Acadia right on the water so he got lots of swimming in.

  12. Love this article. Love my state. Thank you for your kind words. Hope you visit again. Good luck on finding a house. Try realty of Maine website. It has more local options and properties.

  13. Bar Harbor is our annual Labour Day tradition and we have many of the same pictures. Sadly with international borders closed, we didn’t make it this year. 🙁 If you go back, you have to run Eagle Lake! It’s my favourite 10km route.
    Now I can’t wait to go and try those pancakes.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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