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travel plans this august

pennsylvania
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travel plans this august

we are looking at maine as a possibility for august vacation. need some input. we usually travel out west..rockies, grand tetons..but would really like to experience the northwest. we live in pa...thought about acadia, but get nervous when we hear about the crowds, traffic, etc. our kids love hiking, swimming in lakes, rafting, kayaking, etc. could anyone suggest places to go for us that would give us the outdoor fun but not have us sitting in the car in traffic with unhappy kids trying to get them somewhere!! any ideas..?? thanks pw

Maine
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1. Re: travel plans this august

You may want to consider Baxter State Park or the Belgrade Lakes Region. Baxter (outside of Millinocket, about 4 hours north of Portland) has some of the best hiking in the state. There are still a lot of tourists, but it attracts different types of tourists than Acadia. Baxter is more rustic. The park itself is not paved and has a carry-in, carry-out policy. Getting a camping spot in the park is almost impossible, but there are some great campgrounds near the park and there are also some small hotels in Millinocket, about 20 minutes outside. There are a number of hikes, Katahdin being the draw, but there are shorter hikes like Sentinel and Double Top. Not too far away from Baxter is Gulf Hagas, which is a beautiful gorge hike. Millinocket is surrounded by a number of lakes. The East Branch of the Penobscot in the region has some of the best rafting in the state as well. Millinocket is a paper mill town, but as the economic situation has taken a turn for the worse, they are a little friendlier to the tourists. The best lake swimming in Maine is probably in the Belgrades lake region, near the capital city of Augusta (about an hour and 15 minutes north of Portland). The region is surrounded by a number of lakes, the best being Great Pond. It's quiet and relaxing with some great fishing. I'd hike & raft early and hten make my way back towards Belgrade for some R & R. Just my two cents.

pennsylvania
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2. Re: travel plans this august

thanks for the help. i am looking at the belgrade lake region. anyone tell me how long a drive it is to acadia from this lake area? it would be great to find a central location where we could stay and then venture to the coast, or north or west for hiking, etc. any lodging advice in the belgrade area? also, can you tell me if you can actually swim in the great pond or surrounding ponds in this area or are they too cold? it would be august..thanks again for the advice.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park
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3. Re: travel plans this august

Re: travel time to Acadia NP

Count on 2 to 2-5 hours, depending on where you are in the Belgrade Lakes area.

If you are considering several day trips, I recommend that you get a copy of the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer published by DeLorme (<www.delorme.com>). It is invaluable in planning trips and finding your way once you leave the interstate.

Maine
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4. Re: travel plans this august

You can definitely swim in the Belgrade Lakes. Check out www.belgradelakesmaine.com for more information.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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5. Re: travel plans this august

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Bar Harbor/Acadia area as too crowded and with heavy traffic. The traffic really isn't all that bad. And there are many parts of Acadia National Park that the average tourist never sees or hikes. You could stay on the quiet side of the island: Southwest Harbor or Bernard or Pretty Marsh or Halls Quarry.

All on the quiet side of Mount Desert Island: You could swim in Echo Lake where there is a sand beach and even a lifeguard. The water is so clear you can see the bottom and you can also see Beech Mountain reflected in the water. It is definitely not too cold to swim there in August. You could hike the many, many trails and carriage roads of Acadia. You could take a guided kayak tour or rent a canoe at Long Pond.

From Northeast Harbor you could take a Park-sponsored boat tour out to the Cranberry Islands. You could watch for puffins or take a lighthouse tour. Or, from Bar Harbor, you could go out on the Lulu lobster boat and enjoy the very entertaining lobsterman who shows you how it is done.

About the only sitting in traffic I've ever done around here is getting through Ellsworth to the island. Once here, the traffic is not noticeable. Parking, however, can be a problem in Bar Harbor and in Northeast Harbor.

Antrim, New...
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6. Re: travel plans this august

I would echo bonniemaev completely. Ellsworth is the worst congestion. My little secret is that you can take Rte 230 in Ellsworth instead of Rte 3 and avoid much of the Ellsworth trafiic. The town of Bar Harbor is the major tourist attraction on Mt Desert Island, and the loop road, which gets you to a number of natural attractions, hikes, etc., is also a touristy activity. But so much of the rest of the island is just wonderful. It is one of my family's favorite places to vacation.

If you have bicycles, bring them. The cycling on the carriage roads is wonderful, at whatever level of difficulty you like. There is great hiking and the views are unique. When the elevation of a mountain is above sea level, you are usually looking down at the sea from the top, an awesome perspective.

If you have kayaks and can bring them, there are lakes and endless sea kayaking along the coast, with many inlets and coves. If you don't have them, they are available for rent and with guided kayak tours.

Bonniemaev mentioned the boat tours to the Cranberry Islands. On one hand, there are numerous naturalist boat tours. Frenchman's Bay is filled with sea and bird life, and it is common to see porpoise, pilot whales, seals, eagles, and more. There are also whale watches that go about 25 miles out to sea (I recommend dramamine unless you know you have good sealegs). I have been twice (once without dramamine, but I won't bore you, except that I would do it again...with) and seen minke whales, humpbacks, right whales and tons of dolphins. There is also regular ferry service to many of the islands. One year, we took our bicycles over to Swan Island. While it is paved roads, there are few cars and the cycling was fun.

The other thing we have done when there is to rent a vacation home. I recommend this rather than staying in a hotel, etc. On two occasions, we were in a house on the mainland, right on Union River Bay. It was magical, watching the water, the tides, birds and sunset from our porch. Another time we rented a house in Southwest Harbor, a wonderful little town on MDI away from the action of Bar Harbor. It was quieter and gentler, but still had some nice cafes, restaurants, shops, a town center, etc. If you are planning to be there a week, I would recommend looking for a house rental. There are tons of them and they are easy to find on the internet.

Have fun whatever you do. Maine is such a great place to go. So many places to go and so much to do. We love Bar Harbor/MDI and never grow tired of it.

Cape Elizabeth...
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for Portland, Antigua
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7. Re: travel plans this august

I agree with what everybody else said. I just want to add though, that at Acadia there are free buses to get around to wherever you want to go.....very relaxing, no traffic worries. This includes transport for the bikes if you want to take a one-way ride somewhere.

California
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8. Re: travel plans this august

Look at Alton Bay, New Hampshire or Moosehead Lake, Maine.

9. Re: travel plans this august

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