We had been talking about doing a day trip to Acadia National Park since spring when the park would be less crowded, but somehow spring turned into summer and we had yet to make that journey. Finally, on what was probably the hottest day of the year, we made the two hour trip to the Day Mountain trailhead on Route 3. Given that 2.5 million people visit Acadia National Park each year, with the majority of those visits in July and August we planned out visit for the middle of the week, hoping that the park would be less crowded. We also decided to hike one of the less popular trails that began just outside the park, thus avoiding the crowds along the park roads.
Since there were two options for hiking Day Mountain, we decided to do both by walking up the Carriage Road to the top and hiking the trail back down. According to my Acadia guide book, Day Mountain is the only mountain where a Carriage Road goes to the mountain summit. This also gives a third option for reaching the summit; riding a horse drawn carriage. Exercise was the goal, so a carriage was not an option.
In order to reach the Carriage Road, we had to hike a small section of trail until it intersected the road. This section of trail must get quite wet at times, for a rather lengthy portion of it consisted of planks. I got to try out my balance beam skills here, and I am proud to say I did not falter once. Of course, there were two thin planks side by side the whole way, so I am sure the trail was wider than your standard 4 inch balance beam.
Once on the Carriage Road, we realized how hot the day was going to be as we walked up the unshaded road. We were still doing okay with the heat and enjoyed the many views out over the water, as the road switch backed up the mountain. During a stop in one of the few shaded areas, I found a bright, yellow mushroom growing out of the rocks across the road. Further up the road, a butterfly flitted about. It was one of those beauties that keeps its wings open until you attempt to get a picture but it was still a pleasant diversion when we needed another break. As we neared the summit, we found a wasps’ nest hidden under an overhang; a perfect example of the construction trade in nature.
At the summit, we were rewarded with views of the Cranberry Islands. The summit was a small, circular granite area with a few clusters of trees, surrounded by the Carriage Road. There was a signpost directing the way towards the trail we would take back down in one direction and towards the Triads in the other, for those who wanted to extend their trip. We found a spot of shade and enjoyed our lunch of peppers, cheese and crackers. As we sat on one of the stones along the side of the Carriage Road, we watched a pair of horse drawn carriages make the loop around the summit.
After finishing our lunch, we found the trail and made our descent into the shade of the woods. Unfortunately, the shade and the woods were sporadic since the trail was mostly ledge. We would travel in the shade for a time, only to come back to a stone trail reflecting the brightness of the sun.
Even though I was feeling the heat, when we arrived at the parking area I wanted to take the Lower Day Mountain Trail towards the water. I was deceived by the path starting out in the woods. Again it wasn’t long before we came out of the woods and saw a field of cairns showing us the way across the ledge. After going on a little bit longer, I realized I was overheated and probably dehydrated so we were forced to turn around.
We finished the day by meeting up with a fellow blogger at a small café in Bar Harbor. We chatted over ice cold lemonades before they began their hiking adventure and we headed home. Even though there were some difficulties during the day, it was a rewarding experience.