Acadia National Park at Schoodic Peninsula, Winter Harbor
The national park on Schoodic Peninsula is a little sibling of sorts to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. While Schoodic is popular, it’s far less crowded than Mount Desert. It’s not quite as dramatic as the island, but the six-mile one-way loop road around the peninsula is heavenly. I highly recommend biking around it, starting at the campground and returning on one of the gravel carriage roads.
As for hiking, there are several options, ranging from easy to moderately challenging. The 1-mile Sundew Trail, which starts from the grounds of the Schoodic Institute, is covered in crushed gravel so is somewhat wheelchair accessible (for hardy wheelchairs). Its spurs to gorgeous sea views are not as gentle, though. Try to hit this trail at dusk for sunset views over the bay. You can pick up one end of the loop near the Institute’s ballfields. Returning can be a bit of a maze through the institute’s roads; but if you head roughly in the right direction, I swear you’ll end up back at your car!
Another short and relatively easy trail (there are two steep sections) is the 1-mile there-and-back Lower Harbor Trail, which you can begin from the park headquarters and campground. A .4-mile spur extends across the main park road to a nice bog, joining up with the carriage roads which you can take back to the park headquarters.
There are several options to hike up to the peninsula’s highest point, 440-foot Schoodic Head with views of Cadillac Mountain and Frenchman Bay. The three hiking paths are Anvil, Alder and East trails. Anvil is .8 miles, and rather steep and rocky. But pretty. East Trail is the shortest, and also quite steep. Alder Trail starts flat, through peaceful greenery, with the last .5 mile a steep ascent to the summit and overlook. There are also unpaved roads to the summit which I didn’t explore. (If you’re hiking up Alder Trail from the Blueberry Hill parking lot, keep walking straight 100 feet or so after the trail joins the unpaved road. You’ll see the hiking trail continuing on your right.)
If you want to hike across the peninsula, from Schoodic Head to the campground/park headquarters, I recommend taking the free park shuttle, which circles the peninsula every hour or so. You can jump off at Blueberry Hill and then walk the 4.7-miles up Schoodic Head and back to the campground. It’s moderately difficult, I’d say, with a few views of the sea along the way.
The park also has seven miles of carriage roads that are covered in a loose gravel that we actually found difficult to mountain bike on—it’s a bit like riding on sand. Be warned, too: the more northern carriage trails are very hilly, with big ups and downs. It’s a good workout! There are a few well-earned views along the way
Directions: From Route 1, turn onto Route 186 south to the small village of Winter Harbor. In town, turn left to continue on Route 186. In half a mile or so, you’ll reach the park road on your right. Continue 1 mile to the park headquarters to buy your park pass.