Mount Desert Island, Maine

Monday, April 20, 2009

Miles of the most dramatic and varied geography on the East Coast await you in Maine's Mount Desert Island. The island got its current name from the French explorer Champlain who ran aground here in 1604 AD. Today, Mount Desert Island is best known as the home of Acadia National Park, where land and sea, mountains and shore, people and abundant wildlife meet in a natural and spectacular setting. Either hike or drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain -- the highest point on the eastern seaboard -- and you'll be the first in the country to welcome the sun. Above you the early morning sky; below, Maine's rugged coastline.

Mount Desert Island

When your trek ends, head over to Bar Harbor, the island's hub, where you'll find more than 100 restaurants and 200 hotels, inns, cottages, and motels. Explore its sidewalk cafes and shops, or wander the waterfront and gaze at the 19th-century mansions that tower over the water, stately reminders of the days when this small town on Frenchman's Bay was a grand summer resort for society families. Bar Harbor gives you every excuse to linger, but you can't -- Acadia National Park begs for your attention.

Mount Desert Island

Claiming nearly two-thirds of Mount Desert Island, this 47,000-acre wonderland attracts 2.5 million people each year. Travelers come for the lakes, forest, coastline, and more than 300 species of birds. They come for Cadillac Mountain, and to see the only fjord on the East Coast. They come for the paddling, the swimming, and the Carriage Roads, built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the first half of the 20th century.

Mount Desert Island

Winding through the heart of Acadia, this recently refurbished 45-mile network of gravel roads -- constructed by the late oil baron for nonvehicle use -- offer intimate, up-close views of the park and the island. Choose your mode of travel -- on foot or by bike -- and let yourself wander through the thick forest, past the sweeping vistas, and over the stone-faced bridges. You'll catch sight of Cadillac Mountain and cut along Eagle Lake. Best of all, you'll explore one of New England's prized natural areas. The roads, like the island, are seemingly endless.

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