We made our first visit to Acadia in August and completely fell in love. I’d planned so much travel for 2020, and like everyone else in the world this year, I had to cancel all but our Acadia trip.
I’ve been to Maine before, but never as far north as Bar Harbor. I loved the scenery of Maine – the cliffs reminded me of Hawaii a little bit, albeit with different foliage and FREEZING cold water.
Here are our favorite spots for hiking and swimming in Acadia National Park. For current conditions at the park, check the Acadia website before you go!
Swimming in Acadia: Sand Beach
Sand Beach is the main beach access within the park. It’s also the trailhead for Ocean Path and Great Head Trail (more on that below). The beach is BEAUTIFUL, but the water is freezing. This did not bother my seven-year-old, who dove straight in. This was his favorite part of the trip by far!
Just FYI, the parking lot here fills up fast, so plan to get here early. They are also rolling out a reservation system. Get updates on that here.
Swimming in Acadia: Echo Lake Maine
You’re not able to swim in all of the lakes/ponds in Acadia. Many are part of the drinking supply, so swimming is prohibited. But Echo Lake is one of the areas where you are allowed to swim. The water was slightly warmer, if that makes swimming in Maine any more appealing!
You can also access the Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Trailheads from the Echo Lake parking lot, making the lake a fun spot to cool off after a hike.
Kid-Friendly Hikes in Acadia: Ocean Path to Thunder Hole
This is one of the more popular hikes in Acadia. You can access this from Sand Beach or you can park at Thunder Hole and walk back toward the beach. There are some spots where you can step off the trail and onto the rocks and do some exploring. This was my sons favorite part – it was definitely more exciting for him than walking the path.
Ocean Path continues along toward Otter Cliffs, but depending on your kid’s endurance, you might want to just do a portion of the trail. The trail itself is super easy, but there’s minimal cover from the sun, so by 10am, this trail was HOT.
Acadia with Kids: Great Head Trail
We did this trail on a cloudier day, so the views weren’t as clear, but it was still amazing. There was a range terrain – including some fun spots to scramble over rocks. You get some beautiful views of the cliffs across the water! The full hike is 1.8 miles.
Great Head Trail is also accessed from the Sand Beach parking lot.
Acadia National Park with Kids: Jordan Pond Loop
This was one of my favorite hikes of the trip! Jordan Pond is absolutely beautiful. You can’t swim or go in the water, as it’s part of the drinking supply. But the views are amazing. We did the full loop, which is 3.4 miles. There’s a variety of terrain – parts of it include walking over rocks, which was a lot of fun.
Acadia National Park Hikes: Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Trail
This was a great trail that was on the quiet side compared to some of the other more popular trails in Acadia. Parts of the trail had steel ladders that you had to climb. We made the mistake of going clockwise around the loop instead of counter clockwise, so we had to climb DOWN the ladders. If you’re hiking with kids, it’s probably easier to climb up.
There are some great views of Echo Lake and the ocean from the top. This trail is accessed from the same parking lot as Echo Lake, so you can cool off after your hike with a trip to the lake!
Kid-Friendly Hikes Acadia National Park: Day Mountain Trail
Day Mountain Trail was another quiet trail in Acadia. It’s 2.6 miles out and back up and over Day Mountain. The elevation gain is only 564 feet, so it’s a fairly mellow trail, with some uneven terrain. We did this on our last day and paired it with a short trip to Hunters Beach.
Acadia with Kids: Hunters Beach Trail
This is a short path to a beautiful beach. We did this after doing Day Mountain Trail. The walk down is only .3 miles, and the beach itself is gorgeous. We did some walking on the rocks. The wet rocks are super slippery, so be very careful!
Traveling to Acadia National Park?
For more Acadia, stay tuned for my post Vegan Acadia (coming soon!).
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