This is a two parter. First is for those looking for light hiking in the town. Second is a recommendation where to stay in Bar Harbor.
Located in Downeast Maine, Bar Harbor is pronounced “Bah Hahbah” by Mainers and playfully by those from “away.” “Downeast” often refers to the eastern coast of Maine. The phrase derives from sailing terminology: sailors from western ports sailed downwind to the east to reach this area.
With my UNH college friend, Bill Buggie, I have come to discover the bar in Bar Harbor. On previous hiking and biking trips to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, we have heard the story that at low tide the sand bar magically appears so walkers, even cars, can cross to Bar Island itself.
Coming during the first week of May, Bill and I have the town to ourselves. Last night we immediately got a table at Geddy’s in the heart of the downtown at the prime dining hour of 7P. Parking last night, and now this next Monday morning, is plentiful as we prepare to walk the land bridge to Bar Island at low tide.
Having checked the tide charts for Bar Harbor weeks before, we know that this Monday morning at 11A is the lowest of low tides. The park service advertises that there is a three hour window to hike to the island and be back before the salt waters of high tide rule the day. Descending Bridge Street, we have a land bridge from the harbor to Bar Island. Hence, the street name.
In fact, the sandbar to Bar Island is mostly a gravel bar and could easily support a four-wheel vehicle. As Bill and I arrive at 930A, we see people already walking to the island. Hoping we’d see the tide receding slowly to expose the land bridge, something out of Charlton Heston crossing the Red Sea in the Ten Commandments, I am mildly disappointed that the sand/gravel trail is already over 100’ wide, and obviously easy to cross.
Stepping first among the small stones of the gravel bar, we soon close in on the island over large smooth stones with an obvious trail before us. The trail through the forest and meadows is well-marked and ten to twenty other walkers make it clear the way to go. Once on Bar Island, hiking to the modest summit takes us a leisurely fifteen minutes. Looking back to Bar Harbor itself, we know we have found a family hike that kids under ten can easily do.
With only an hour of hiking/walking under our belts, we head to the Shore Path that goes from the downtown park at the Bar Harbor Inn, and then along the harbor waterfront past high priced condos and estates of old money. It’s a delightful level walk of less than a mile with islands dotting the harbor for our viewing pleasure.
Bonus section is for folks wondering about a recommendation where to stay in Bar Harbor.
Ever wonder where to stay in Bar Harbor when some hotel rooms in season go for north of $400 to $500? Wonder no more.
First, let’s back up. Consider traveling to Bar Harbor in May. Tourist season that once went from Memorial Day to Labor Day now stretches into September and October. Come November, the dark of 415P sunsets makes this the fishing village that the locals love.
On this first Sunday night of May, Bill and I each have a room at the Best Western Acadia Park Inn for $99 a night; in August the same room is $209, in September $189, and after Columbus Day weekend in October $135.
Let me take you back to our daybreak feast.
It’s Monday morning, I slip into the large dining area at 630A to be greeted by Jill, a downhome down easterner of perpetual joy. Toasting an English muffin and pouring myself a full 12 ounces of dynamite decaf, I return to my room to luxuriate with Sports Center. Once done, I’m not done! I return for a second cup with a banana nut muffin that I warm to mouth-watering perfection in the in-room microwave. And that’s just the beginning.
At 8A when Bill and I have arranged to meet for breakfast, I take breakfast to the next level. Ladling out primo Quaker oatmeal from an 18″ coffee urn size container, I then sprinkle on raisins and walnuts. The oatmeal is so tantalizing that I forego the eggs and sausage to have another bowl of oatmeal for our morning of hiking.
This oatmellian delight compares favorably with the oatmeal that Hannah and I have every morning when we are home. As if things couldn’t get any better, I top off breakfast with hash brown mini-patties, be they doused with salsa (a personal favorite) or delectably savored alone. You can’t go wrong with the Acadia Park Inn.