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Quiet Time is Just Around the Corner at Acadia National Park


Cross-country skiing along the carriage paths in Acadia National Park is a popular activity. Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Photo.

Most folks view Acadia National Park off the coast of Maine as a summertime destination, a place to head to to flee the Northeast's high heat and humidity in July and August to go in search of fresh lobster and popovers.

It's a destination where you can relax in the pines listening to the crash of the surf. Clearly, that high season in the park has passed. But that doesn't mean Acadia is any less appealing during the winter.

With the leaf-peeping season already having peaked on Mount Desert Island, Acadia's rocky and heavily treed home in the Atlantic, the park is beginning to wind down. On October 31, the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and the Sand Beach Entrance Station will close for the season.

Beginning on November 1, park information will be available daily at the Winter Visitor Center at park headquarters on Route 233, except on Thanksgiving Day, December 24 and 25, and January 1. Also closing on that date will be the Islesford Historical Museum, the Nature Center at Sieur de Monts Spring, Seawall Campground, and the Jordan Pond House.

The Park Loop Road will close on December 1 if there is not a major snowstorm before then. When it is closed, there are two miles left open from Schooner Head overlook to the Otter Cliff Road. Access to this section is via the Schooner Head Road in Bar Harbor. Jordan Pond can also be accessed via the Jordan Pond Road in Seal Harbor.

So what can you do at Acadia during this seemingly dormant season? Well, when the snow does fall the carriage paths that wind through the eastern half of the island are ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

And the Blackwoods Campground remains open through the winter, although only for those accustomed to "primitive" tent camping, as you won't be able to drive to the campground with your RV between December 1 and March 31. Instead you'll have to walk in carrying everything you need on your back. While there is no charge for using the Blackwoods Campground during the winter, you do have to obtain a permit at park headquarters on Route 233. The office is open between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.

Ice fishing is another option. Acadia's ponds and lakes harbor land-locked salmon, various species of trout, bass, and perch. To find out which lakes and ponds to head to for specific fish species, check out this page.

And while you can't take your dog sled around the carriage paths, you can mush -- and even skijore -- along the park's snowed-over main roads and fire roads on the island when suitable snow-cover allows.

Hiking, of course, remains possible throughout the winter months, though it is a tad bit more challenging than in summer thanks to the accumulated snow and ice that can coat the trails.

Where to stay if you're not camping? In downtown Bar Harbor at the Acadia Hotel rooms start around $60 a night. Over at the Heathwood Inn, a B and B that occupies a lovingly restored farmhouse, the Master Suite has a king bed and fireplace while the Eden Suite features a Jacuzzi tub. Rates start around $70 per night.

For other options, check with the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Mount Desert Chamber of Commerce, or the Southwest Harbor/Tremont Chamber of Commerce.

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