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Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

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Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

(I've also posted this on Acadia National Park forum.) My wife and I (44 and 51) live 4,000 miles apart (Prague and Pittsburgh). She'll be spending 3 weeks in the US during June and July. I've told her that I am taking her somewhere special for the US 4th of July holiday (she is Czech), but everything else is a SECRET! She is going crazy trying to figure out where we are going and what we'll be doing. :-) This will be the first visit for either of us to Maine. We fly into Bangor on July 3 at 1pm, will spend 5 nights at Bar Harbor Manor, and will fly out of Bangor at 5pm on July 8. We are very active and love hiking and biking (my wife is hardcore on a road bicycle). I hope to get the Mrs. to join me for a hike on one (at least) of the ladder trails (fear of heights). Will we need to drive into Acadia each day or could we reach many locations with the shuttle buses? We'll need to rent bikes for a day or two (Carriage roads), will we be able to transport the bikes via the shuttle buses? I expect the 4th of July to be rather crazy and crowded. I do want her to experience some of the festivities of the national holiday, but we may also prefer to get in a good hike during the day. What festivities would you recommend we not miss? I assume we should be prepared for cool temps (75-55) and rain. We'll be prepared to hike in the worst weather, and pleasantly surprised for any sunny and warm days. Anything else I should plan for? My wife has NO IDEA of where we are going, and she has the idea we are going somewhere just for a day or two. She'll be surprised when we arrive at the airport for our flight to Bangor!!! Thank you!!!

Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

Yes, you will be able to use the shuttle buses for most of your hikes. Yes, you will be able to load the bikes on the shuttle buses. There is a special bike shuttle that transports bikes to and from Bar Harbor every half hour to Eagle Lake, where you can access the carriage roads. Each shuttle bus also has room for four bikes.

The bus schedule is altered on July 4th because of ongoing activities in Bar Harbor. The fun things in Bar Harbor start with a blueberry pancake breakfast at the athletic field. Then there is an old-fashioned parade. After that there is a lobster feed back on the athletic field. Then fireworks that night, if it isn't raining or too windy or too foggy. During the day and evening there is usually live music in the two village parks.

Be sure to buy a good trail map. You can get one at Sherman's Book Store on Main Street. Many of the trails on Dorr Mountain are stair trails that are challenging but not too scary. You can actually walk south out of the village of Bar Harbor and be at Dorr Mountain in about 20 minutes.

I'd advise AGAINST doing either the Precipice Trail or the West Face trail of Cadillac Mountain. They are a bit too difficult and too scary. But you can have the bus drop you off at the trail head for the North Ridge of Cadillac Mountain, walk all the way to the top in about 90 minutes, hike down the South Ridge trail (great views out to the ocean) in about two hours, and then take the Blackwoods Campground bus back to the village.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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2. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

If you really want to do a ladder trail, consider the Beehive near Sand Beach. You can both walk in together and then she can decide at the bottom. If she decides against it you can continue and hike up and over Gorham Mountain and then back to your car by the Park Loop Road.

The Gorge Trail is a strenuous trail up Cadillac Mountain that doesn't involve any ladders or cliffs, then you can hike down the North Ridge Trail back to the Loop Road and your car. You can also use the shuttle buses to get to both of those hikes. If you use the shuttle, you'll have more options for the way down since you don't have to loop back to your car.

I would expect sunny warm weather, in the 80's. July 4th is usually one of the hottest periods of the summer. It's not typical to have cold rainy days in July. Expect that the temperature will drop in the evenings and cool off overnight but not to the point of being cold.

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3. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

bonniemaev, thanks for the advice. I do plan to get the Park Trail Map at the Acadia NP Visitor Center along Route 3 on our way in from Bangor. If you think it is a good idea to get a good Guide Book, could you recommend one? I did investigate information on the Precipice Trail. My wife and I are in very good shape and I am certain we would not have any problems physically with the trail, but it would be most challenging because of the emotional fear factor. But that is what seems to make it so exciting (and memorable). Are you advising against it because it is dangerous?

I'll need to come up with a plan for the 4th of July. I'm sure my wife would quickly get bored if I didn't work in some physical exercise during the day. I'd enjoy the pancake breakfast, the lobster feed (is that a dinner?) and, of course, the fireworks. Perhaps I'll look into a hike or two originating from Bar Harbor (be completely pedestrian for that one day). Perhaps we could get a good 3-4 hour hike in at Dorr Mountain?

Thanks again.

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4. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

lovingbarharbor,

Thank you. Perhaps I should try the Beehive, and if we both enjoy it, we could consider a more difficult ladder trail. If I can figure out the shuttle service, I may prefer to use the shuttle for hikes versus driving the rental car every day. I particularly enjoy hikes that don't require a loop back to the start. I'll be hoping for warm, sunny weather but we'll be prepared to enjoy the outdoors even if the weather is cool and rainy. ;-) Is there much to gain for a day trip (90+ minute drive) to Schoodic Point? My wife is not a fan of spending a lot of time in the car, and I'm wondering if we'd be better off maximizing our time on Mount Desert Island?

Thanks again. I'm looking forward to visiting this beautiful area and its people (and lobster).

Bar Harbor, Maine
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5. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

Yes, it's the fear factor on the Precipice Trail. The fitness isn't such a big deal. I have a 66-year-old friend who does the Precipice often. More than once she has found a hiker frozen in fear, not wanting to go further up, afraid to go back down. And people have died on the Precipice, although I know of one who also died on the Beehive Trail. The Beehive is simply a shorter trail with not as many iron rung sections than the Precipice.

In any case, more than likely you will not be able to hike the Precipice Trail in early July. The peregrine falcons are nesting there and the trail is closed until the baby falcons fledge, which is usually in August sometime.

You could very definitely do a three to four hour hike, walking directly from Bar Harbor. There are so many hikes you could add on to the Dorr Mountain hikes. You could go to the top of Dorr and then continue on, through the gorge, and up to the top of Cadillac. Then you could go down part of the South Ridge Trail and connect down to Canyon Brook Trail which will take you along the back of The Tarn and back to Dorr Mountain. That would be a very nice outing -- build your appetite for a lobster dinner. Or you could go across the highway from Dorr Mountain and hike up Huguenot Head on a stair trail and then to the top of Champlain, on the back side of where the Precipice Trail is, and down the Bear Brook Trail. You'd have to hike a short distance on the Loop Road to get back to town. Or you could wait until a shuttle bus comes along to take you back to town.

A good trail book is the classic A Walk in the Park by Tom St. Germain. It's pretty outdated now, about 20 years old. But still available and still fairly helpful. You could probably wait until you get to the visitor's center or Sherman's and browse what is available. I would suggest you get a map in addition to a trail guide book. The free map the Park hands out is really not enough to take a hike with. The map to get is Acadia National Park by Map Adventures Maps and Guides.

The lobster feed at the Athletic field on July 4th is a dinner eaten on picnic benches or blankets on the lawn. It can be a bit of a zoo. You might be better off having your breakfast, watching the parade, taking some packed snacks on your hike, and then have an early lobster dinner at a restaurant some place before the fireworks.

Schoodic is nice. If you get tired of hiking or get a very foggy day, you might want to do that. I agree with LovingBarHarbor in that the weather is very likely to be warm and sunny during that time period. Maine is not Seattle. We don't get that much rain in the summer.

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6. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

Thanks for all of the info, bonniemaev! It sounds like I'll have a great plan for the 4th, our first full day there. Pancakes for breakfast, check out the parade, long hike from Bar Harbor, early lobster dinner (would just about any restaurant in town be just as good?), and evening fireworks! We'll make good use of the free shuttle service for the rest of the weekend as we explore Mount Desert Island. I should have my hands on that trail map within a week's time. Thanks again. I appreciate the help.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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7. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

Tom - I love Schoodic and think it's worth the drive; however, this is your first visit here and you will not run out of things to do in Acadia, especially if you and your wife love to hike. There are 110 miles of hiking trails here on the island, 47 miles of biking trails, approx. 75 miles of scenic driving, cruises, sail boats, kayak excursions, shops and restaurants. If your wife doesn't like spending time driving, I would save Schoodic for your next trip to Bar Harbor.

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8. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

I would recommend any hikes up Sargeant Mountain, Dorr Mountain, Champlain, Penobscot and Pemetic. They are all strenuous and get much less visitors than Cadillac or Acadia Mountain. The ladder trails, Precipice and Jordan Cliffs Trail, are both closed right now due to nesting peregrine falcons so they are probably not going to be options for you anyway.

I also like A Walk in the Park, but note that his hikes are very long, usually 6 miles or more each. You can make shorter loops and hikes if you prefer. We usually go for shorter hikes because we don't have all day for hiking since we are working here, but if you have all day, he's got some great routes.

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9. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

Tom, I'll try Beehive trail July 5th if you'd accept a third wheel. My fiancé will enjoy visiting downtown Bar Harbor over a hike. She's a little shy of heights.

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10. Re: Planning SECRET vacation for me and my wife for 4th of July.

PitDaddyR, We're flying into Bangor on July 3 and after stopping at the ANP Visitor Center, will make it to our lodging around 4-5pm. We probably won't do any hiking on the 3rd except for a walk around town after dinner. How long will you be in Bar Harbor?

Edited: 27 June 2013, 18:27