Mount Desert Island is off the Down East coast of Maine, a state of the United States of America. Always referred to by the locals in Hancock County simply as "The Island."
Acadia National Park occupies about half the Island and much of the rest is preserved by conservation groups. The Island is very crowded with visitors during the summer months, but one may still find solitude by getting out on the Island's many hiking trails. For the summer visitor each of the several villages has a unique flavor. Bar Harbor is the largest town, and caters to nearly every variety of tourist. Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor are much more reserved. Bass Harbor retains much of the flavor of a fishing village. Spring and fall are excellent times to visit, when all the beautiful spots are nearly deserted.
- 30 minutes from the city of Ellsworth via Route 3.
- 60 minutes from Bangor, Maine, depending on traffic, which can be very heavy during the summer months. Take I-395 to Route 1A to reach Ellsworth, where you pick up Route 3.
- 3.5 hours from Portland, Maine. Take I-95 to exit 182A at Bangor, then I-395 and follow route as above via Ellsworth. Alternatively, take I-95 to Route 3, exit 113, just north of Augusta, and follow the slower but more scenic Route 3 east to Belfast (Maine), and then through to Ellsworth and Bar Harbor.
The Island's interior is easily accessable by private car, but if you'd rather leave the driving to someone else (a knowledgeable and friendly bus driver), then the Island Explorer Buses are a great choice. The buses make their routes through all of the villages on the Island, as well as through Acadia National Park, with plenty of scheduled pick-up spots. Expect plenty of traffic in the busy summer months. At other times of the year, much of the Island is nearly deserted.
You can explore the island's 120 miles of hiking trails for a good workout and spectacular views:
- Cadillac Mtn. 1,530 ft. The summit can be accessed by an auto road if you're going up to see the sunrise/set, but the mountain also has some wonderful hiking trails. On mornings between 7 October and 6 March, those at the summit of Cadillac are the first people in the country to see the sun rise.
- Sargent Mtn. 1,373 ft.
- Dorr Mtn. 1,270 ft.
- Pemetic Mtn. 1,248 ft.
- Penobscot Mtn. 1,194 ft.
- Bernard Mtn. 1,071 ft.
- Champlain Mtn. 1,058 ft. Home to nesting pairs of peregrine falcons, which restricts access to the Precipice Trail at certain points of the year, generally between March 15 and August 15.
- Gilmore Mtn. 1,036 ft.
- Bald Mtn. 974 ft.
- Mansell Mtn. 949 ft.
- Cedar Swamp 942 ft.
- Parkman Mtn. 941 ft.
- North Bubble 872 ft.
- Norumbega Mtn. 852 ft. After a steep, challenging hike you are rewarded with spectacular views of the southern islands - Bear, Sutton, and the Cranberries.
- Beech Mtn. 839 ft.
- South Bubble 766 ft.
- Hugenot Head 731 ft. A neat hike keeps you along the edge of this bluff and leads you to a nice lookout over the Tarn and across to Dorr Mountain. Keep hiking down into the valley on the other side to begin the hike up Champlain Mountain.
- McFarland Mtn. 724 ft.
- The Triad 698 ft.
- Acadia Mtn. 681 ft.
- Young's Mtn. 680 ft.
- St. Sauvier 679 ft.
- Day Mtn. 580 ft.
- Gorham Mtn. 525 ft. A moderate hiking trail, great view of the coast from the summit, from Sand Beach, down to Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs.
- The Beehive 520 ft. A nice short, but steep hike, with metal rungs and ladders; the southern end of the summit gives a perfect view of Sand Beach while the northern end looks out over to Champlain Mtn and Frenchman's Bay.
- Flying Mtn. 284 ft. A very short hike leads to a small summit which provides one of the best views of Somes Sound.
There are many exciting paddling options around the island, for example.
- Eagle Lake in Bar Harbor Can get choppy on windy days, but sticking to the shoreline is relaxing, with views of Cadillac Mtn. No swimming though, as the lake is a public water source for the town of Bar Harbor.
- Hamilton's Pond in Hulls Cove. Generally quite calm.
- Long Pond Kayaks can be launched easily from the landing at "pond's end" off Pretty Marsh Rd. near Somesville.
Lobster pound restaurants in Mount Desert or anywhere in Hancock or Washington counties do a great job cooking crustaceans. Just steam them so many minutes per pound and you’ve got a perfect seaside meal. Same goes for the clams (soft belly clams, the true clam, not the quahog pretender).
Keep in mind that the prices can be just a tad less expensive at the pounds in Trenton just before you cross the bridge onto MDI. I've found that Lunt's in particular is quite reliable. (2003)