“Should we just turn around now?” joked our kayaking guide, Scott, shortly into our kayaking trip near Acadia National Park on Thursday, Sept. 16. Our quest to see a variety of wildlife in the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf of Maine had already been fulfilled on a day Scott described as “idyllic” for kayaking and wildlife viewing.
After meeting at National Park Sea Kayak Tours in Bar Harbor at 8:30 a.m., we checked in, received instructions and gear, and then traveled by van to the remote “West Side” of Acadia for an “off-the beaten-path” experience. As we launched from Clark Cove and paddled through Western Bay, the sun battled its way out of the leftover clouds that dominated Wednesday, brightening the sky and putting a smile on our faces.
The water was calm, and within minutes of departure, we noticed a few seals moving through the channel between the islands, bobbing in the water as they watched us pass. Shortly later, we spotted porpoises in pairs and triads, their soft splashes giving away their migration through the bay. We spied four bald eagles, appearing as if cued by our guide. A variety of gulls and other water fowl floated nearby in the water.
We paddled past small islands, privately owned by families like the Rockefellers, and through Blue Hill Bay, stopping at Moose Island for a stretch and snack break. Our group of five double-occupied kayaks and two singles paddled along the shorelines, looking for birds and learning about the area’s ecology. We exited in Seal Cove about 12:30 p.m. and returned to Bar Harbor.
Our kayaking trip had been booked months in advance when we made our plans to visit Acadia National Park on a Gasper family road trip, an eight-day expedition from Wisconsin to Maine, with stops along the way at Indiana Dunes National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, Niagara Falls in N.Y. and the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Mass.
I loved exploring Acadia National Park, climbing the rocky bluffs with my family and watching the crashing ocean, described as “wicked” cold, as low as 55 degrees in August. We ventured up a very short segment of the Precipice Trail, a difficult trail up the rock-covered bluffs, and took photos at the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. We drove up Cadillac Mountain for the most spectacular views of the area and hiked part of the Gorge Trail, marked by blue marks on the rocky hillside. We relaxed by Jordan Pond with the blue sky reflected in the peaceful water.
We had fun and made great memories in Acadia National Park. And while the vibrant fall colors were off to a late start this year, the park was still incredible. From the rugged coastline to the bird-covered sandbars, our kayaking trip allowed us yet another perspective of the island and its rugged beauty.