Our last day in Acadia was brief. We spent the morning doing some easy walks through the park before hitting the road just after lunch.
For anyone in the northeast contemplating a trip to Acadia, all I can say is go! I know Rhode Islanders hate driving more than 20 minutes away, but compared to the vast expanses of the west where people drive hours just go to to the grocery store, consider yourself lucky that Acadia is only a5–6 hour drive!
Despite the park being dotted with towns and residences – since it's not a perfect section of wilderness cut out of the Maine coastline – it offered an incredible amount of variety. How many places on the eastern seaboard can you do a mountain hike or nature walk, and end with a day at the beach? Or take a break from hiking to choose either mountainside or oceanside rock climbing? We will certainly be making a return trip in the future. Maybe next time we'll pick a campground in the park, or decide to pitch a tent on a mountain. The options are endless.
Wild Gardens of Acadia and Jessup Path: 1.7 miles
The Wild Gardens of Acadia are situated at Sieur de Monts next to the Great Marsh at the foot of Cadillac Mountain. It's one of the first destinations you pass as you enter the park, and on our last day we decided to stop and take a look! The Wild Gardens include a tourist center and enclosed garden, with light foot paths among a garden strictly of wildflowers and foliage that you can find throughout the region. We had come across a lot of these plant species in the previous couple of days, so it was nice to put names to plants!
We took the Jessup Path through the Great Marsh, and looped back along the Hemlock Trail and Wild Gardens Path to make a nice figure 8. The section we enjoyed the most was a perfectly straight boardwalk through the marsh that felt rather magical! The boardwalk suspends you off the ground, but the surroundings were beautiful, with tall grass and ferns, short pines and groups of birch ascending through the underbrush. The high sun shone through and dotted the area with light throughout the walk. Another pleasant little surprise from Acadia!
Cadillac Mountain Summit
We didn't have time for any other hikes, but we couldn't leave without visiting the tallest peak in Acadia National Park. Luckily for us, there's a road that can bring you to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, so we swapped out our hiking boots for sandals and toured the summit without the arduous hike up the ridge. The summit is wide and sloping, so it's hard to get a perfect 360° view from the very top. A short foot path brings you around the summit so you have unobscured vantage points to the east, south, and north. We took a break for lunch before hitting the road!
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