Bar Harbor is one of my favorite vacation destinations. Along with the quaint, picturesque atmosphere, Acadia National Park is within throwing distance! This year we stayed at The Harborside Hotel which is right on the water. Behind the hotel is a sandbar which is the namesake for Bar Harbor. When the tide is low, this bar is full of tourists looking for crabs, sea stars and many other sea creatures that you may find on rocky shores. It also acts as a land bridge connecting Mount Desert Island with Bar Island, a disconnected portion of Acadia National Park.
Bar Island has been part of Acadia National Park since 1986, but more recently the Park obtained 12 acres on the island from an author and journalist, Jack Perkins back in 2003. This land was not included in the original boundary authorization. There are trails that go to both the summit of the island for viewing to the south (Mount Desert Island) and to Jack Perkins' old property location.
To start off, parking is somewhat limited, however you can park on the actual sandbar if you have a vehicle you trust won't get stuck. We made our way over the sandbar and I was really shocked how wide of a pathway was exposed as the tide ebbed. The walk over to Bar Island was fun but slow with two little kids. They had a lot of fun trying to find crabs, shells and rocks on the way over.
Once we made it to the shore of Bar Island, you could see many small rock cairns. It looked like many travelers built them up there but I’m not sure for what significance. It was really cool to see and my kids made one as well. As you enter the trail from the shore of Bar Island, there is a sign notifying you that you’re entering Acadia National Park with an informational kiosk.
The trail starts off climbing gently on a wide gravel path. Soon, it makes a sharp right turn and continues to upward. After about a quarter mile, the trail splits with a sign. The trail sign points to the left for the summit in 0.2 miles. I’ve read online that if you go right, it takes you down to Jack Perkins’ old properly foundations.
The last part of the trail was much more traditional trail. I had some steeper sections with s fair amount of rocks and roots. At the bottom of one of the more technical areas, it seemed there was an old trail or heard path that exited to the left. We saw multiple people go down this trail even though it looked like maintainers had tried to block it with logs. My wife read somewhere that this may be a path to some other, less crowded viewpoints.
When we reached the summit, like all places in Acadia, it was pretty crowded. The summit was marked with a very large cairn and it was tough to see the slightly restricted views without others in your way. However, this doesn’t bother me. As nice as it is to have a mountain top to yourself, it’s also nice to see others appreciate the mountains and trails that we’re all so passionate about.
After taking a few photos, we headed back down the way we came. My GPS said that the trek was about 2.2 miles round trip. It was a great little hike for being 2 minutes from our hotel. I would highly recommend it to anyone that is planning on visiting the Bar Harbor area!