Posted on August 13, 2023 and last updated on August 13, 2023

Bar Island, Acadia National Park


  • Preserve Size: 47,000 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~0.9 miles one way
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Sights: sandbar, tide pools, views, stone ruins

If you stroll down Bridge Street in Bar Harbor, you can access the beach and, if it’s low tide, walk across the exposed 0.4-mile sandbar connecting the mainland to Bar Island, part of Acadia National Park. During summer, people emerge from all directions at low tide to stroll across the bridge and check out tide pools — it’s a real scene!

Important note: The sandbar is exposed 1.5 hours before and after low tide — plenty of time to do the full walk here of about 1.9 mile, there and back, with a side venture to see the ruins of an old mansion. The island path is mostly wide and smooth, except for a very short section where you’ll walk across exposed ledge and loose rock close to the summit.

While many people are content to remain on the island’s pebbly beach (with some inspired to contribute to the rock towers and stone sculptures that dot the landscape), you can continue another ~0.6 mile up the wide park path to the highest point of the island. The lookout, with views of Bar Harbor hotels, piers, and yachts, is just below the large pile of rocks marking the ~173-foot summit. I thought it was a nice vista, but I talked to two visitors who were disappointed. I guess you just have to temper your expectations!

On the way back, I recommend taking the short side path (mid-way to the high point) that brings you to the ruins of an old mansion. I believe this is the remains of Mable Hunt Slater’s 4,000-square-foot Bungalow, aka Camp Rough-It, which she had built for $10,000 in 1907. (I’ll probably be corrected by a historian on my facts, though!) Evidently, Mabel was a brilliant inventor with several patents. But her descendants weren’t interested in summering at the estate, and it was completely destroyed in 1943 due to “burning rubbish.” A later property owner (Jack Perkins) sold the land to the park, asking that what was left of the house never be torn down.

At different points along your walk, you’ll also see unofficial paths branching off the main trail system. Also, keep your eye out for deer in the small grassy field that the path crosses.

Fun fact: Bar Island is technically part of the town of Gouldsboro! But it’s most easily accessible from Bar Harbor.

Directions: Walkers can access the sandbar from Bridge Street. You can park on West Street or in public spaces anywhere in town. Some people in high season take the Island Explorer bus, which drops you off at the village green.

Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!