The west side of Acadia National Park doesn’t have the same cache as the east side, but it’s 100% worth exploring! You can drive around the tip of the Park with the ocean constantly by your side and pull off wherever you like for a quick bit of respite. Two great pulls offs we enjoyed were Beech Mountain and Pretty Marsh. We strongly recommend these two!
Beech Mountain is a short trail in between Echo Lake and Long Pond. To get there, you take 102, turn right on Ripples Rd, then go straight to Beech Hill Rd until you reach the end. The trail has two options – a longer .7 mi stretch or a steeper .3 mi stretch – to the top. We opted to take the .7 route up and come down the short way. The trail is pretty characteristically Maine: rocky and full of pine trees. Along this trail, you’ll get stunning views of Echo Lake and Long Pond.
The summit has an overlook you can climb up to get the highest views. We took in the fresh air, the crisp breeze and serene lake views for a while. Such a great place to have lunch, introduce kids to trails, or just get out of your head. This trail is different from the east side because you won’t see the huge crowds up here. If you want some alone time, come here!
We saw signs for Pretty Marsh along 102 and decided to stop off. It’s a picnic area and beach front. There are a lot of parking spots with picnic benches, making it ideal for a pitstop with the fam, birthday party, or family reunion. We saw a few families enjoying the dense pines sitting at picnic benches in the picnic area.
As we drove around the picnic area, we noticed a walk path down to the beach. Of course we had to park and check it out! The beach here was so beautiful, again characteristically rocky. We were by ourselves in the harbor breeze watching people in sailboats enjoying the fall day. The whole west side of Acadia helped us relax much more than the east side purely because there aren’t nearly as many people on the west side.
As you can see, they are both beautiful places worth checking out! And don’t worry, you can stop for lobster rolls or at random beaches along the way, too! While you’re on the west side, make sure to check out Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. On the east side, you of course have to head up Cadillac Mountain, should check out Gorham Mountain, and must walk the Ocean Trail from Sand Beach, past Thunder Hole, to Otter Cliffs. Head back to Bar Harbor for dinner afterwards!
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