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New England Road Trip in October

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New England Road Trip in October

Hi everyone,

I’m from the South Bay Area, California. I’m going on a road trip across New England (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont) in October. My main goal is to enjoy fall foliage at its peak. I also want to go hiking (preferably moderate hikes due to time constraint), watch sunrise/ sunset, visit quaint, unspoiled, picturesque New England towns, take pictures of light houses and covered bridges and love to have a taste of local food. I usually prefer local hidden gems to tourist traps and like scenic drives through small towns more than interstates. However, I understand that I need to take interstates sometimes as I won’t have enough time to wander around. I also try to avoid driving at night as I’m not familiar with the area, and I heard there are lots of moose-related accidents.

I’d greatly appreciate it if you could give me some advice on the itinerary below. I’m not sure if it is doable or too ambitious. Also, as for those places I have on my list, are they worth visiting? What should I check out when I’m in those towns? If you think there are better towns, can you please give me some recommendations?

09/27/2013: Drive from Boston to Portland. Stop by Nubble Light along the way. Stay in Portland 1 night

09/28/2013: Drive to Acadia early morning. Stop by Brunswick - Damariscotta - Camden along the way. Stay somewhere near Bar Habor.

09/29/2013: Acadia National Park. I want to watch sunrise and sunset at the summit of Mount Cadillac, but I don’t know if it is safe to drive up to Mount Cadillac in the dark as I rarely drive up a mountain road at night.

09/30/2013: Spend a few hours in the morning in Acadia National Park, then head to Bethel, ME. Spend the night in Bethel. Or if time allows, try to reach Jackson, NH and spend the night in Jackson.

10/01/2013: Mount Washington. I wanted to drive up Mount Washington Auto Road. But after watching videos posted on youtube, I think I’ll go with the guided tour. The drive looks scary.

10/02/2013: Drive along Kancamagus Highway, stop by Franconia Notch State Park. Head to Montpelier, VT. Stop by St. Johnsbury along the way.

10/03/2013: Montpelier - Stowe

10/04/2013: Waterbury - Burlington - Shelburne, VT

10/05/2013: Leave early morning, cross Middlebury and spend the rest of the day in Quechee, Woodstock, VT.

10/06/2013: Leave Woodstock early and head to Arlington - Bennington, VT. Either spend the night in Bennington/Brattleboro or drive to Greenfield, MA

10/07/2013: Shelburne Falls - Mohawk Trail, MA and then drive back to Boston.

10/08/2013: Boston to Portsmouth, NH (A day trip and back to Boston)

10/09/2013: Drive from Boston to Cape CodNantucket

10/10/2013: Cape Cod to Jamestown, RI

10/11/2013: Back to Boston. I have friends in Boston so I try to save some time to meet my friends.

10/12/2013: Last day. Take it slow.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Regards,

S

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Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: New England Road Trip in October

The drive to the top of Mount Cadillac in Acadia National Park before sunrise and after sunset is short, safe, and easy. Nor is it ever really dark at those times. There is always a fairly long dawn and dusk this far north. Even if you get to the top of the mountain a half hour before sunrise, which I recommend in order to catch the light as it changes, it will not be completely dark on the road up.

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2. Re: New England Road Trip in October

Bonniemaev, thank you so much for your feedback. It's helpful. I'm thinking of driving up Mount Cadillac an hour before sunrise.

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3. Re: New England Road Trip in October

One piece of your itinerary jumps out at me... on Sept 30, it sounds like you'd like to "play it by ear" as to whether you spend the night in Bethel ME or Jackson, NH... deciding as you go... Not a good idea !!

You're going to be traveling in prime-time foliage season and competing for lodging availability with everyone else who wants to come up and see the foliage at the same time you do. Deciding-as-you-go may well leave you facing lots of NoVacancy signs in Bethel, ME, Gorham NH, Jackson NH and even, to some extent, in larger places like North Conway NH. Yesterday wouldn't have been too early to start making lodging reservations -- and whether you stay in Bethel or Jackson may well be determined by where you can find vacancies if you start calling now! Don't mean to scare you, but you don't want to spend a lot of time trying to find lodging when you could spend the same time out seeing the foliage! My recommendation would be to book a place -- now -- in Bethel if you can.... gives you more time to enjoy the foliage between Bar Harbor and Bethel on the 30th....and lets you get to Mt Washington Auto Rd the next day without backtracking from Jackson to get there.....

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4. Re: New England Road Trip in October

Thanks for your feedback. For my Maine trip, I already booked the rooms for 1 night in Portland and 2 nights in Lamoine (20 minutes away from Acadia National Park). I'll skip Bethel, drive straight to Mt. Washington Valley and stay there for 2 nights. I want to visit Franconia Notch State Park and Mt. Washington Auto Road so I need to figure out whether I should stay in Plymouth, Tamworth or Conway (those are the 3 options I have) to minimize my driving time and distance.

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5. Re: New England Road Trip in October

Do you think I should extend my stay in Acadia to 4 days 3 nights? Based on my current schedule, I will reach Acadia late afternoon 9/28 and leave around noon 9/30. I'm afraid that I don't have enough time to explore the park and the areas around it. I want to do the Park Loop Road, Mount Cadillac and go to the quiet sides of the park, e.g. Schoodic Peninsula. Would you recommend I stay 1 more day there? Thank you.

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6. Re: New England Road Trip in October

I think you should be able to do all the things you want to do in Acadia in a day and half. You can spend the full day on the 29th doing the Loop Road and Cadillac. Then you can do Schoodic easily in the morning of 9/30, after you leave your lodging in Lamoine and before you head to New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, your best bet would be to stay in Conway. That's closer to Mount Washington than the other two places.

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7. Re: New England Road Trip in October

Thanks, Bonnie. Do you think I have enough time to hike Gorham Mountain Trail (1.8 miles - about 3 hours round-trip) on the 29th? Or should I skip the hike and just do the Park Loop Road as I hear driving around the Park Loop Road alone will take the whole day? Alternatively, I can go hiking early morning 9/30 and go to the Schoodic after the hike. Based on what I read, it will take me about 1 hour to drive along the one-way road in Schoodic Park. If this sounds too rush, I can extend my stay in Acadia to 4 days. What do you think?

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8. Re: New England Road Trip in October

Driving around the Park Loop Road need not take all day. If you just drive it, without stopping anywhere, it only takes 45 minutes. Yes, I think you could do that hike and still drive the Loop Road all in the same day. You could probably even have time to stop at the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers, which I recommend.

Although it takes less than an hour to drive the Schoodic loop, it takes a full hour to drive from Bar Harbor to Blue Hill.

I can't say if you should extend your stay or not. There is certainly enough to do in Bar Harbor and Acadia to fill four days. But I know you have other places you want to visit as well.

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9. Re: New England Road Trip in October

Hi Bonnie,

Thanks for your advice. I will arrive at Lamoine late afternoon on 9/28. Do you know where I can purchase the pass for the park and what time those stores/offices close? Thank you.

Best,

S

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10. Re: New England Road Trip in October

You can buy a park pass at the main visitor's center on Route 3, just north of Bar Harbor or you can buy one at the little stone building next to the Village Green in Bar Harbor, near the Island Explorer bus turn-around. I don't know where one would buy a pass at the Schoodic part of the Park. Most people probably buy one at the only place in the Park where there is a manned entrance, where they check and sell passes. I'm not sure just when any of those open. Probably 8 a.m. If you go into the Park before that, you will not be stopped at any point to show a pass. Yes, you could "get away with" never even buying a pass as long as you don't drive through that one area on the Loop Road during their open hours, shortly before Sand Beach. But please do support the Park. It really does need the money. Especially these days when its funds seem to get cut every year.

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