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Hiking in Acadia National Park

Program No. 6125RJ
Hike and learn about the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi, exploring century-old hiking trails, the east coast’s only fjord, Mt. Desert Island and savoring a lobster feast!

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At a Glance

Discover why Acadia National Park is a hiker’s paradise as you explore trails that offer a variety of challenging terrain and majestic scenery. Led by Registered Maine Guides and other naturalists, this program vividly demonstrates why lovers of the outdoors are drawn to Mount Desert Island from throughout the U.S. to walk the scenic peaks and picturesque valleys of Acadia. Breathtaking views are your reward for each hike completed!
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking for 4-6 hours per day at a comfortable pace. Participants should be physically fit and have prior hiking experience. Please see Program Dates and Prices and Date Specific Information for details.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Experience amazing hikes on Mount Desert Island include Cadillac Mountain and “Ocean Drive.”
  • Explore the geology of this area where mountains rise out of the sea and examine the fascinating flora and fauna.
  • Learn from a Maine lobster expert how the crustaceans are captured (with authentic gear and live lobsters!) after you enjoy a real Down East lobster dinner.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Ellen Goldsberry
Ellen Goldsberry is a year-round resident of Mount Desert Island who loves to take advantage of the Park's beauty in every season. She's an ardent hiker and also enjoys biking, kayaking and cross-country skiing. She especially loves sharing her passion for Acadia with others. Her calm demeanor belies a love of adventure.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Ellen Goldsberry
Ellen Goldsberry View biography
Ellen Goldsberry is a year-round resident of Mount Desert Island who loves to take advantage of the Park's beauty in every season. She's an ardent hiker and also enjoys biking, kayaking and cross-country skiing. She especially loves sharing her passion for Acadia with others. Her calm demeanor belies a love of adventure.
Profile Image of Lauren Tucker
Lauren Tucker View biography
Lauren Tucker spent years as a marketing executive before returning to her first love, Mount Desert Island. She has extensive knowledge of the island, its wonders and its hidden charms. She enjoys sharing her affinity for the island with Road Scholars.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 4 L 3 D
Check-In, Registration, Overview of MDI, Welcome Dinner
Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Villager Motel

Activity note: We’ll give you a capsule look at Mount Desert Island, “the jewel of New England.”

Afternoon: Check in with your Road Scholar group leader in the breakfast room across from the motel lobby between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. The Bar Harbor Villager is located in downtown Bar Harbor and is within short walking distance to downtown shops and attractions. We'll have our first gathering at 4:15 to get to know each other and to receive an introduction to Acadia National Park. We’ll give you a capsule look at Mount Desert Island, “the jewel of New England,” and show you the possible routes we’ll be hiking this week in Acadia National Park. Mount Desert, known for its dramatic scenery and universal appeal, is the second largest island on the east coast. Please be at the motel's cafe (across the lot from the office) by 3:45 so we can walk to our destination and begin promptly.

Dinner: We’ll dine at a local restaurant in downtown Bar Harbor.

Evening: Evening free to explore Bar Harbor area.

Victorian Walking Tour, Hiking Gorham Mountain
Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Villager Motel

Activity note: We'll have our "shakedown" hike today, judging Road Scholar energy levels and hiking skills, before marking a "definite" beside the rest of the week's planned activities.

Breakfast: A continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: We'll do a Victorian walking tour, focusing on the era when Bar Harbor was the country's most exclusive and illustrious resort. Then the hiking begins! Weather permitting, we’ll tackle Gorham Mountain, a moderate mountainous hike which offers spectacular views over the Cranberry Islands and the Gulf of Maine. From the summit, we’ll view a wide expanse of Mount Desert Island’s southern, surf-pounded coastline. The route up and down is a well-traveled mountain trail which is in good condition. Challenging but not overly demanding, Gorham will give us a good idea of energy levels and hiking abilities among participants.

Lunch: One of the many pleasures of our hiking week is having our picnic lunches – individually prepared sandwiches – in some spectacular settings, usually along one of the trails. We’ll stop somewhere on Gorham Mountain to relax, refuel and drink in the beauty of Acadia.

Afternoon: We'll continue our hike, noticing the unique geological features carved out by the Wisconsin Glacier thousands of years ago. We'll enjoy the views eastward towards Schoodic Peninsula, a spectacular headland that juts into the Gulf of Maine.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: Free time.

Oldfarm, Hiking in Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Villager Motel

Activity note: The western side of Mount Desert Island is a possible destination today, with a plethora of scenic hikes awaiting us.

Breakfast: A continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: Before hiking, we'll head to Oldfarm, the ruins of the home of George B. Dorr, who's considered the father of Acadia National Park, and we'll learn the fascinating and moving story of how the park was founded and how it came to be the only park in the entire national park system in which the land was donated rather than purchased by the government. Then we’ll head out for our hike; a possible choice will be Beech Mountain, on the western side of Mount Desert Island. Beech offers great variety, including gorgeous views over Blue Hill Bay towards the Deer Isle Peninsula. Like yesterday, this hike will consume about four hours and will move at a comfortable pace. A second possibility will be the Bubbles, twin mountains which sit on the northern shore of Jordan Pond, with the group ending the hike on the carriage roads bordering Eagle Lake.

Lunch: We'll pause at a scenic vista for an hour to enjoy the wonderful views and a picnic lunch, with a variety of sandwich options.

Afternoon: We'll continue our hike after lunch, with our group leader pointing out special scenic vistas and providing information on the flora and fauna of Mount Desert Island.

Dinner: We’ll again dine at a downtown Bar Harbor restaurant, within easy walking distance of our motel. Along the way, we can browse the many galleries and shops which line Bar Harbor’s streets, perhaps finding that perfect memento to take home as a lasting memory of Acadia.

Evening: Free time.

Lobster Class, Cadillac Mountain Hike, Lobster Dinner
Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Villager Motel

Activity note: At 1532 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the east coast of North America, and today we’ll cap our week with a spectacular hike up the South Ridge Trail. The trailhead is at a few hundred feet of elevation, so we won’t actually ascend the entire 1532 feet.

Breakfast: A continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: A lobster expert will demonstrate, using authentic gear and live lobsters, how Maine's most famous sea creatures are caught and what the future of the industry looks like. Then we’ll head out for the highlight of our hiking week, heading up the south ridge trail of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard; on many days of the year, the summit is the first place in the United States to receive the rays of the sun. The south ridge is the gentlest of the three trails up Cadillac; it’s a well-traversed path which is popular among visitors to Acadia.

Lunch: There are a number of spots along the south ridge trail that are ideal for a lunch break, and we’ll choose one of them.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our “highlight hike” this afternoon, enjoying not only the beauty of the island but the camaraderie of the newfound friends we’ve made on this Road Scholar trip. Our reward will be the satisfaction that comes from a day well spent.

Dinner: Tonight we'll enjoy an old-fashioned Down East shore feast, featuring the state’s most well-known crustacean, the cold-water lobster.

Evening: Free time

Bike Ride on Acadia's Carriage Roads, Free Time
Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Villager Motel

Activity note: We’ll provide everyone with a 21-speed conventional bike for our alternate activity today, and our ride will cover about six miles over Acadia’s famed carriage roads.

Breakfast: A continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: We’ll give those hiking muscles a break this morning, taking a bicycling trip along Acadia's carriage roads, winding through the interior of the park. John D. Rockefeller Jr. built these auto-free roads between 1913 and 1940 with the stipulation that they remain free of motorized vehicles in perpetuity. The hard-packed gravel roads are open to bikers, hikers and horses alike. This ride will last a couple hours and will allow us to be back in Bar Harbor by noon so everyone can enjoy the afternoon off.

Lunch: Lunch on your own.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free to explore Mount Desert Island or any of the other nearby coastal areas which catch your fancy. We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction for the activities you choose.

Dinner: Choose one of Bar Harbor's restaurants and enjoy dinner on your own.

Short Hike in Acadia National Park, Program Concludes
Bar Harbor, ME

Breakfast: A continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: Because of limited time and an 11:00 checkout time, we’ll choose a short hike this morning. We might pick a trail similar to the ones we’ve done earlier in the week, or we might opt for something completely different. In any event, we’ll have time to enjoy one more chunk of Acadia’s variety before our adventure is completed.

Lunch: Our Road Scholar week will come to an end as we enjoy a picnic lunch at Albert Meadow; take part in a brief “graduation” ceremony; and savor our memories of a week on the magnificent Maine coast.

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