My family visited Maine on a Northeast summer road trip and explored 11 states in 11 days. One of our favorite places was Acadia National Park in the northeastern corner of Maine. Although we were only there for a few days, we found plenty of things to do in Acadia National Park which makes this place one of the best national park vacations. Naturally, some of the best hikes in Acadia National Park are also those with scenic vistas. If you are planning a trip to Acadia National Park with kids check out this list of the best hikes in Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park with Kids
Acadia National Park is a great place to visit with children. There are many short, easy trails that shouldn’t cause too much complaining. Acadia National Park also allows kids to become a national park junior ranger by completing a set of activities found in the booklet at the Visitor’s Center. Our kids have become junior rangers at various national parks and have learned about the geology, history, and geography of the area in a clear and enjoyable manner. Use this U.S. national parks checklist to keep track of what you’ve visited. If you are planning a visit to multiple national parks in one year and one of your children is in fourth grade, be sure to get the 4th grade national parks pass which allows free entrance to the child and his/her family for that year. Print out your pass here.
The Best Hikes in Acadia National Park
While many would have their opinions as to which are the best hikes in Acadia National Park, I based them off of ease for kids as well as scenery. If you are planning a multi-day hiking trip, you should really consider printing or purchasing an Acadia National Park trail map. This waterprooof Acadia trail map below will be very useful in cases where reception is poor or you would like a general trail map that can get a little wet.
This has been one of our family’s favorite hikes to date and one of the best East Coast hikes. Of all the Acadia National Park hiking trails, this one combines sweeping ocean views, rock scrambling, and a gentle path with little incline. To me, Ocean Path is one of the best Acadia hikes because each side adventure you take from the main road leads you to a new ocean view scene. It is one of the best
We also enjoyed the hike up to Bubble Rock Overlook – one of the best hikes in Acadia. There are two ways to reach Bubble Rock (South Bubble Trail and North Bubble Trail). Both hiking routes are about 2 miles round trip and although there is a bit of an incline on the way up to the summit, it is one of the easy hikes in Acadia National Park where you are rewarded with some spectacular views. The hike begins in the forest and as you ascend, the landscape changes dramatically. This is definitely one of the best trails in Acadia National Park. To read more about the Bubble Rock Trail difficulty, parking and see more pictures, click on Hiking Bubble Rock Trail with Kids.
3. Bar Island
This hike is different from the rest of the Acadia National Park trails because it starts off at the edge of downtown Bar Harbor Maine. Bar Island is considered part of Acadia National Park, yet the only way to get there is to walk across a sandbar during low tide. Most of the Acadia National Park maps have tide charts so that you can time your visit properly. Be careful timing this, as you can get stuck on Bar Island if you are not attentive. This short hike was one of our favorite things to do in Acadia National Park and it was quite unique as well. To read more about the Bar Island sandbar on low tide, click here – Hiking Bar Island Trail.
Best Acadia Hikes: Other Recommendations
We visited Acadia National Park with kids during some intense fog. While our pictures still were beautiful, we missed out on some of the spectacular vistas due to the weather. Here are some other recommendations for the best Acadia hikes if you’re planning a trip soon.
- Beehive Trail – This is a famous trail and considered one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park, but it is not for kids! This trail has iron bar handles to hold yourself and some narrow areas right beside cliffs. Some of the best views of Acadia can be seen here.
- Jordan Pond – This is definitely one of the best Acadia hikes and a nice and gentle trail if you are visiting Acadia National Park with kids. The only reason I didn’t include it in my top recommendations is that the weather didn’t cooperate and it was a little longer than my kids were used to at the time (3.5 miles). This is a very popular hike in Acadia and many people head to Jordan Pond House for lunch and order the famous popovers. The loop trail circles the pond and stays very close to the shoreline.
- Cadillac Mountain – climbing to the summit of Cadillac Mountain is considered by many as one of the most epic hikes in America. The South Ridge Trail ascends gradually up to the summit and is just under 8 miles long. Here your views get better as the climb progresses. Although this hike is a classic, I would not recommend this for kids unless they are teens.
- A Guide to Acadia National Park Trails – Check out some other recommendations for the best hikes in Acadia National Park
Things to Do in Acadia National Park Beside Hike
There are plenty of things to do in Acadia National Park if you don’t enjoy long hikes. If you are visiting for a long weekend, you may be interested in this 3 day itinerary. Here are some options of what you can do that does not involve hiking.
- Drive Park Loop Road – This is a mostly one way 27-mile road that loops around the eastern part of Mount Desert Island that connects you to the major sites: Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond, and Cadillac Mountain. It is a must do!
- Acadia Carriage Rides – Acadia’s Carriage Roads are one of the nicest things to do in Acadia National Park besides hike. You can take a carriage ride or bike them if you are feeling adventurous. No cars are allowed on them, so enjoy the change of pace.
- Wake up early to see the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain – It is said that this is the first place on the East Coast where you can catch the sun rising. Be sure to make it up there before it rises as you won’t be the only ones who know about this.
Other Great Hiking Trails in Maine
Maine is full of natural beauty and has some great hiking opportunities around the state. If you are traveling to other towns in Maine and love to hike, check out some of these suggestions:
Where to Stay Near Acadia National Park
I recommend staying in the nearby town of Bar Harbor Maine. Although Acadia National Park encompasses most of Mount Desert Island, there are not too many “cities” nearby. Bar Harbor’s proximity to Acadia National Park activities is the most convenient. We stayed at the Wonder View Inn (clean/simple accommodations, just off downtown and
Among the best places to stay in Acadia National Park are AirBnB rentals (click here for $40 off your first stay). Acadia National Park campgrounds are another option – check the NPS site for more details on obtaining a spot. Camping near Acadia National Park is also another option – check out this camping guide.
Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park
This is a matter of personal preference, although the most popular time to visit Acadia is surely the summer. Fall is also quite popular due to the change of color in the trees and is considered the best time to visit Acadia due to the summer crowds being gone. Spring can be rainy in Acadia, therefore if you plan to go, be sure to bring waterproof gear.
What to Pack on a National Parks Trip?
If you’re looking for ideas on what to pack on a national park trip, check out some packing lists and gear recommendations to get you started.
Overall, hiking Acadia National Park with kids should be high on your adventure list if you enjoy the outdoors. It is one of the best US national parks for families since there are many easy hikes. Although Acadia National Park is remote, the drive and the scenery are definitely worth it when visiting the Northeast. If you are driving up from Portland Maine to Acadia National Park, check out my post: Road Trip Portland Maine to Bar Harbor.
Other Great National Parks to Visit
There are 61 US National Parks, and while we have only visited a few, check out our reviews of why they should be on your radar of national parks to visit.
- Glacier National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 10 Best National Parks Vacations
- Grand Teton to Yellowstone
- Mammoth Cave
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park
- National Park Road Trip Itineraries
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