Acadia National Park

Set Sail on Maine's Rocky Coast

Jun 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
national park: Acadia National Park

A sailor's dry-dock dream in Penobscot Bay near Acadia National Park    Photo: Abrahm Lustgarten

Kick Back in Bass Harbor

On the other side of Mount Desert Island from Bar Harbor's fudge shops lies Bass Harbor, a fishing village with enough patience to treat travelers right. Cozy up among the town's rugged cottages at the Bass Harbor Inn Bed and Breakfast ($75–$120; 207-244-5157), or pitch your tent at the seaside Bass Harbor Campground (800-327-5857,, where, after a short hike to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, you can watch the lobster fleet head out. Thurston's Lobster Pound (207-244-7600) serves fresh crustaceans right by the water.
One Fine Day: Steal some solitude on 60-foot Otter Cliff and the pink granite crags of Great Head, some of the best sea-cliff climbing in the U.S. Rent gear at Alpenglow Acadia Mo...

national park: Acadia National Park

Acres: 47,000 Contact: 207-288-3338

WITH ITS GRANITE-DOMED MOUNTAINS and sea-sprayed coastline, Acadia attracts summertime tourists like a backwater pond draws blackflies. Luckily, the park's modest acreage is spread out over several islands along Maine's northern coast, which means you can avoid human swarms simply by sailing around them—giving you a chance to explore the park's more remote spots.

For this two- to three-day voyage, experienced sailors can rent a boat in the Deer Isle boating hub of Stonington. Newbies can charter a 37-foot cutter with Captain Bill Baker, of Old Quarry Ocean Adventures; pushing off from Stonington, you'll sail eight miles to Acadia's isolated Isle au Haut. Once you hit land, unload your mountain bike and stretch your legs with a 12-mile ride around the island, stopping to gorge on blueberries and watch golden eagles soar past cliffs overhead.

The next day you'll venture deeper into the mostly uninhabited Deer Isle archipelago and catch wind toward Mount Desert Island, where most of the park is situated. Follow the Maine Island Trail—a marked route connecting dozens of coastal islands—or chart a 20-mile course around rocky inlets where seals, puffins, and ospreys will be your only company. You'll find a quiet anchorage spot on Mount Desert Island at the village of Northeast Harbor. Break out the bike and pedal a 57-mile network of carriage roads, or hike to the top of 1,373-foot Sargent Mountain for ocean views. Back at the dock, load up on lobster and crash on the boat; the next day you can sail the 15 or so miles back to Stonington via a different route.

GETTING THERE: A two-day sailboat charter with Old Quarry costs $1,200 for four. You can also rent mountain bikes, sea kayaks, and 14-foot sailboats (207-367-8977, Other sailboat outlets include Downeast Friendship Sloop Charters (207-266-5210, and Hinckley Crewed Charters (207-244-0122,

WHEN TO GO: June through September.