by Anura Guruge
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The scenically gratifying and emotionally cleansing ‘Acadia National Park‘ (in Maine), rather than being one big park, is made up of three geographically dispersed sections. Most people think of ‘the Park’ as being the small area bounded by the famous 27-mile ‘Park Loop Drive’ on Mount Desert Island — with Cadillac Mountain in the middle and bustling Bar Harbor to the side. Well, even on ‘Mount Desert’ there is more Park than what is accessible from ‘the Loop’. And then there are the two outlying sections — Schoodic Peninsula to the east and Isle au Haut to the southwest. We did Schoodic Peninsula last September and revisited it again this June.
Isle au Haut is the most remote section of the Park and you can only get there by boat. There is a ‘Mail Boat Ferry’ from Stonington — but it is relatively expensive, i.e., $129 for the 4 of us. Isle au Haut is rugged and solitary. You can go for hours without seeing anyone else — other than lobster boats, if you are lucky, in the distance. If you like solitude, this is the place to go.
To be fair Isle au Haut is very much an option for the diehard or for those, like us, who want to be sure that they have covered everything the Park has to offer. In terms of scenic beauty what you experience on the Isle is pretty much the same as what you can see in Schoodic — and Schoodic is so much easier to get to.
But we are glad we did Isle. It was quite the adventure. 4 hours of solid hiking much of it over some strenuous terrain. We also like to go out on the water when we are at Acadia. So the trip to au Haut also took care of that, though the 75 minute trip is not as much fun as a nature cruise on Frenchman Bay. But, this is definitely something memorable. Not sure we will do it again anytime soon. The kids liked it. They will remember it. It was the Saturday of what proved to be a picture perfect Labor Day weekend. Not a cloud in the sky. Temps. in the high 70s. ‘The Loop’ as we found out on Sunday would have been packed. That was one of the reasons I chose Saturday as the day we took the ferry. At most 16 people got off at the Park dock on Isle au Haut. Once we started hiking we rarely ran into anybody else. You really have the place to yourself.
In case you are wondering it takes about 90 minutes to get to Stonington from Bar Harbor. So there is at least 3 hours of driving and 2.5 hours on the ferry. So factor that all in.