Here in Maine we have some of the best State Parks in New England. And let’s not forget the best National Park in the area as well! One of the benefits of having this nature in our backyard is the incredible hiking opportunities it affords us. We’ve covered a few of our
favorites in the past, but thought we’d tell you a bit more about one of our favorites.
While we sometimes hesitate to reveal our most secret spots, we realize that it’s our job to share these places with you. So, despite our desire to preserve this spot for ourselves, we give you one of our favorite (and more accessible!) Acadia hikes.
Ocean Path is one of the best ways to explore coastal Acadia. While plenty of trails will ultimately give you a view of the waters surrounding the area, this hike will allow you plenty of opportunity to take it in as you go.
If you think Acadia National Park is only for the serious hiker, think again. It's absolutely possible to explore the classic Maine forest and coastline using your own two feet - even if you are not a seasoned hiker.
Hiking Ocean Path will give you views of what many believe to be "classic Maine" - from coast to forest. There are many stopping points which make it a relaxing hike for those who don't want to have to constantly scramble uphill over rock. The trail will take you past Thunder Hole and will end at Otter Point with views of Cadillac and Dorr Mountains.
You'll begin your hike by at Sand Beach. The trailhead officially begins in the Sand Beach parking area. Take some time to enjoy this area, as it's truly beautiful. In the summer, you'll find folks soaking up the (sometimes chilly) Maine sunshine with a day at the beach. If it's busy, you'll want to park in a different area. If this is the case, park in the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and take the Island Explorer Bus to Sand Beach. The bus is a convenient way to get around the park. It's even more convenient when you decide you've had enough of the outdoors and decide you're ready to head back to the car.
Once you've found the trailhead at the Sand Beach parking lot, it's a fairly simple .7 mile walk to famed Thunder Hole. This Acadia natural phenomenon is a really shallow sea cave that emits a thunderous sound during the incoming tide. Waves enter the cave, trapping air inside. When the air escapes, those in the area are treated to a loud roar.
During the summer, this area has bathroom and a small snack shack.
Remember to try timing your visit with the incoming tide. And, being there during foul weather can't hurt. Unless you get too close to the rail. Visitors have been swept out to sea after taking a nasty wave to the head. This is a serious situation, so heed all ranger warnings.
Once you've taken in Thunder Hole trail, the trail will continue past Monument Cove. This area gets its name from its vertical stack of granite isolated from the cliff as a result of erosion. This is known as a "sea stack."
Opposite Monument Cove, across the small road, is the Gorham Mountain Trailhead. Don't go there! Or, you can, but you'll be missing out on the rest of Ocean Path.
As you continue on Ocean Path, you'll enter the forest and find yourself as a lovely point with a bell buoy. The purpose of this bell is to warn sailors of a shallow shoal just off Otter Cliff.
Here the path reconnects with the road briefly. But, after passing Otter Cliffs the trail again veers towards the coast for more views of the coastline.
At Otter Point, you'll connect to the Park Loop Road again.
In this area you'll also find a plaque to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a significant contributor to the park. The trail continues around Otter Point, culminating with a view across Otter Cove. This view may just well be the best part of the path and will give you views of Cadillac and Dorr Mountains.
From here, you can either re-do the trail in the opposite direction to return to the starting point or, flag down the Island Explorer Bus to continue on the Park Loop Road.
One way, this hike is about 4-miles. So, while not terribly strenuous is does cover a fair amount of ground. If you choose to go back the same way you came, you're looking at 8 miles.
If you'd rather begin the hike at Otter Cove, simply park in the Otter Cover parking area rather than the one at Sand Beach. And, if you decide to do only a portion of the trail, you can pick it up at many of the parking lots along the Park Loop Road.
Remember to breathe in that fresh, salty air!
Have you done this hike or others in Acadia? Tell the Only in Maine community about it on