Posts tagged ‘fall foliage’

November 22, 2010

Is Late-October Too Late for a Fall Foliage Trip to Acadia National Park in Maine?

Suddenly a business trip came up for the week after Columbus Day when I was planning to go to Maine.  Should I go later or forego the fall foliage in New England this year?  I couldn’t bear the latter.  But would there be huge trade-offs with the former?

They say Mount Desert Island rolls up the sidewalks after Columbus Day.  The lobster pounds are closed.  Stores have concluded their end-of-the-season sales and hunkered down.  Locals begin planning their winter trips to Florida.  And it’s highly likely that the scarlets have turned to russet.

But we went anyway. 

Yes, the weather was chilly.  Although I’ve enjoyed temperatures in the 70s in October in past years, this was not the case now.  We were happy we had our Under Armour and fleeces, and I wish I had had a knit cap for the top of Cadillac.

That was our best hike – in fact, Canon Brook Trail to Cadillac may be my favorite hike in all of Acadia.  It’s a 6.5-mile route that starts just a bit south of the Tarn on Route 3.   The initial stretch took us across a boarded footpath alongside a pool created by antiquated beaver dams.  Even though the terrain was flat along Kane Path, the going was slow because of the monumental beauty of each leaf along the path. 

The birches, beeches and maples provided glowing bowers of gold and orange for us. 

The initial waterfall we encountered, first by sound, then by sight was a big deal.  Little did we know what was ahead.

It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  After ascending a rough, steep staircase that criss-crossed over a brook, we entered an area of smooth rock over which the brook flowed.  No contemporary sculptor has created anything quite so breathtaking and we were in the center of it.  Because of the rains the prior week, the brook burst over the granite.  I kept thinking that’s why it’s called Canon Brook! 

 (However, later I read Acadia hiking guru Tom St. Germain’s note that the trail’s proper name is Canyon Brook in recognition of the resemblance of  the split upper south ridge of Cadillac to a canyon.  Over time, though, mapmakers lost the tilde in the word “cañón” and the brook acquired the new descriptor of Canon, which certainly fit my experience after October rains.)

We ascended to a glacial pond called the Featherbed, and then fought the stiff autumn breezes to the top of Cadillac.

We also did a cycling circuit that started and ended at Jordan Pond and the Bubbles. 

We biked to Conner’s Nubble, which is only 525-feet high, but has a stunning 360-view that is amazing considering it is one-third the height of Cadillac. 

I explored the mountaintop, as a photographer carefully positioning his tripod to capture the late-autumn beauty of Frenchman Bay, Eagle Lake, and key mountains east, south, and west. 

Strenuous hiking and biking should always have its rewards, and this year we took comfort in the cuisine of Mache Bistro in Bar Harbor.  Despite the fact that it was late in the season, almost every table and bar seat was full.  We celebrated the season with an autumn salad of greens, goat cheese, pecans, cranberries, and sweet potatoes.  Hanger steak with garlic mashed potatoes and a duck cassoulet were warming choices after our chilly outdoors activities.

In the end we were happy because we were able to focus not on what we had missed at autumn’s peak, but instead on the special qualities Acadia offered as it approached its quietest time of year.  I’m so glad I didn’t miss out.  Just looking up at the sky was glorious.

October 8, 2009

Planning A Foliage Trip to Acadia National Park?

Witch Hole Pond, October 2, Courtesy of Clyde W. Voigtlander

Witch Hole Pond, October 2, Courtesy of Clyde W. Voigtlander

I’ll never forget the flight I took to Maine when, upon landing, the little boy behind me looked out the window at the evergreen forests and gleefully screamed, “It’s Maine!  It’s Maine!” 

With exactly the same excitement, I’m going to Acadia the weekend of October 16th.  But I’m eager to see trees of crimson, orange, and gold. 

As I sit here in New York City, I keep checking the “official” fall foliage site for Maine.  This week, although two northern zones are already at peak, Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island has only seen moderate color change in the leaves. 

My fingers are crossed that a wildly windy day won’t blow them all away before my visit.  As Robert Frost says, autumn’s gold is “her hardest hue to hold.” says the October temperatures range from an average low of 38 to a high of 58.  However, I’m hoping for the golden days in the 70s that we experienced two years ago.  Still, I’ll pack plenty of fleeces and maybe even light gloves for hiking. 

The next thing I have to worry about: Which restaurants will be open when I visit? 

I checked around since many close after Columbus Day.  On its Facebook page Thurston’s, my favorite lobster pound, says it’s open through Columbus Day weekend.  But when I called, they told me they will be open through Sunday, October 18, this year. 

Duck BrookMany of MDI’s other top restaurants will also still be open.  Town Hill Bistro, rated #1 of 133 Bar Harbor restaurants by the TripAdvisor public, is open year-round.  Chef Kyle Yarborough is looking forward to bringing fall flair to lamb, scallops, and hanger steak at Mache Bistro in Bar Harbor.  And James Lindquist will surely offer seasonal temptations at Red Sky, although doesn’t this appetizer staple sound perfect for fall:  Shitake and Crimini mushrooms and sautéed locally grown Swiss Chard layered with crispy polenta and finished with a balsamic reduction and Parmigiano-Reggiano? 

Full reviews of all of these restaurants can be found at this round-up of the best restaurants in Bar Harbor and the other villages on Mount Desert Island

And you’ll also want to check out these other tips for fall trips at OUR ACADIA!

October 6, 2008

“His” and “Her” Top Picks for Romantic Things to Do This Fall in Acadia National Park

The kids are back in school.  (Did I hear applause?)  With their exodus from Acadia National Park’s trails and carriage roads, a hush blankets the island.  While the sun is still golden warm, crimson hues appear on the mountains.  Exclamations and giggles yield to quiet whisperings between couples.  It’s a great time to be grown up and visiting Mount Desert Island.


Hiking, biking, and kayaking are still at the top of our list of favorite things to do during Acadia’s autumn.  The clear, crisp Maine air makes it a perfect time for these outdoor activities.  But there are many other pastimes for honeymooners and couples celebrating a special anniversary.  We both enjoyed the assiduous research we did for you to yield these recommendations!



“His” Top Picks


  • Rent a house with a fireplace –There are many rentals that are particularly cozy in the fall. Recently the Davis Agency Web site featured a log cabin nestled in the woods, a rustic cottage from which to enjoy sunsets over Blue Hill Bay, and a waterfront home with a large granite fireplace on the deck! 
  • Enjoy a sunset at Bartlett’s Landing – A map will help you locate this serene harbor on the western side of Mount Desert Island.  Bring a bottle of wine and a fleece blanket, and don’t forget your camera.
  • Go for a walk to Ship Harbor and collect shells – This easy walk on a figure-eight trail through the pines brings you along the harbor and finally to a great picnic spot facing the ocean.  If it’s a sunny October day, you may not even need your fleece.
  • Leave enough time for an afternoon “nap”  There’s so much to do in Acadia so be careful not to over-schedule.  Take time just to relax. 


“Her” Top Picks


  • Charter a sailboat – Viewing the fall foliage from the ocean is a special privilege.  And through mid-October you can do this on a beautiful and historic Friendship Sloop.  Downeast Friendship Sloop offers private charters for $120/hour.  Your captain will bring the brie and baguette, as well as soft drinks.  But why not stop at Sawyer’s Specialties (353 Main Street, Southwest Harbor, 244-3317) for a bottle of Pinot Noir?
  • Relax with a “couples” massage – My tension melts away just sitting in the wicker-filled waiting area of the spa at the Bar Harbor Inn.  Couples massages are given in larger treatment rooms that accommodate the two massage tables and two technicians.  Each of you can select the massage type – hot stone, sports, deep tissue – you prefer.  There’s no extra charge for the couples room.
  • Get a corner table at Red Sky – Although there are many great restaurants on Mount Desert Island, Red Sky in Southwest Harbor gets votes from both of us as the most romantic.  Start with one of Elizabeth’s martinis at the bar and then move to dinner in the dining room where a central fireplace enhances the glow.  Duck with a port wine demi-glace and dried fruit compote is my fall favorite, but you might opt for a special, such as squash-filled ravioli with a touch of savory crème fraiche.  Don’t depart without sharing an individual apple pie and a glass of Calvados. 


Acadia is wonderful in autumn, but it requires a bit more planning.  Some restaurants close after Labor Day and others may be totally booked if you don’t reserve in advance.  If you’re planning to go, check out the 16 tips for fall trips here – so nothing will ruin the mood.  And fall in love again this fall in Maine