3 Acadia National Park Spring Activities

3 Acadia National Park Spring Activities

With more than 4,700 acres of ocean, lakes, mountains and forests, Acadia National Park in Maine is a gem nestled on New England’s coast. Spring in Acadia means smaller crowds, more available parking — and probably some chilly mornings. But the park’s wide-open trails, abundance of wildlife and the feeling of having this island of paradise almost to yourself make taking an off-season vacation here worth it.

Visit Acadia in April, May or June and experience the park with these three must-do spring activities.

Getting to Acadia National Park

Fly into Bangor International Airport and follow U.S. Route 1A east about 25 miles to Ellsworth. From Ellsworth, follow Maine Route 3 south about 20 miles, crossing Trenton Bridge to arrive at Mount Desert Island.

Beehive trailhead in Acadia National Park The Beehive stands 520 feet tall at its rounded peak and welcomes hikers to journey through the forest and scramble up cliffside paths en route to the top.


Hike the Park’s Famous Trails Without the Crowds

More than 120 miles of trails crisscross Mount Desert Island, including local favorites for spotting wildlife, taking in ocean views and getting a close-up of the region’s famous pink granite formations. One of the most notable is the Beehive Loop Trail. The ascent to Beehive is challenging but worthwhile for the incredible views overlooking Sand Beach. During spring in Acadia, putting up with a chill, like a low of 40 degrees in May, is worth it to enjoy smaller crowds along the way — and you might even see the park’s lady-slipper flowers in bloom.

Getting to the Beehive trailhead: From the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, turn right onto Eden Street/Maine State Route 3. Follow this road for 8 miles through the town of Bar Harbor, then turn right toward Park Loop Road. Head left on Park Loop Road, and the trailhead will be on your right.

Mount Desert Narrows, Acadia National Park Paddle alongside harbor seals in the calm saltwater of the Mount Desert Narrows, which separates Mount Desert Island from the mainland.


Kayak the Mount Desert Narrows

On the water, experience the park from a different perspective. Kayaking tours during peak season are popular and can book up, but during May in Acadia you’ll have more of the seas to yourself. Companies like Coastal Kayaking Tours in Bar Harbor — open mid-May through mid-October — offer two- and four-hour variations. And in the spring, you’ll have a good chance of seeing harbor seals, porpoises and osprey before the water gets warmer and more crowded in the peak of summer.

Getting to Coastal Kayaking Tours: Follow Eden Street south from the visitor center. Once you’re in Bar Harbor, immediately turn left onto Cottage Street. The shop will be on your right, just past Kennebec Street.

Peregrine Falcon, Acadia National Park, Maine, hovering in flight above Bar Harbor. The speedy peregrine falcon is an Acadia National Park success story: Efforts to protect their nests within the park have helped these birds leave the endangered species list.


See the Birds of Spring

Acadia National Park is a year-round destination for birdwatchers and avian photographers eager to catch a glimpse of peregrine falcons, warblers, Atlantic puffins and black guillemots. But spring in Acadia is peak bird-watching season for a few reasons: The cold-weather birds haven’t left for summer; the waterfowl are plentiful and — maybe most important — the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived.

On top of that, the annual Acadia Birding Festival comes to town in late May and offers even amateur birders and photographers the opportunity to learn from New England’s most committed avian enthusiasts. To experience one of the most famous bird-watching spots in New England, drive to Thompson Island, a gateway to Acadia. From October through May, double-crested cormorants, greater scaup, red-breasted mergansers and common goldeneyes are known to frequent the isle.

Getting to Thompson Island: From the park’s visitor center at Hulls Cove, turn left onto Maine State Route 3 and follow it about 8 miles west. Bonus Tip: you can get all the information and speak to park rangers at the Thompson Visitor Center and it is often less crowded than Hulls Cove.

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About the Author

Charles Cody Siler is a writer, photographer, cyclist and active travel guide based in Bogotá, Colombia. His work has appeared in Club Traveler magazine, Gambit Weekly, Berkeleyside and other publications. He spends his summers working as a guide in Iceland, where he tries his best not to antagonize the local sheep.