Before we arrived at Acadia National Park back in the Summer of 2017, I sat at a pretty little cafe just outside of Yarmouth researching things to do. When I came to a passage about Schoodic Peninsula, I asked a local, “Where is Schoodic Peninsula?” The answer I got came with a thick New England accent, “Downeast Maine. About 4 miles by boat from Bar Harbor.”
Where is Schoodic Peninsula
I soon learned that within New England, “Downeast” refers specifically to Maine’s most eastern and southern counties — as in “Down South” and then “East” within Maine. This area roughly lies between Penobscot River and the border and includes rural Hancock and Washington counties.
After checking some maps, the location of “4 miles by boat from Bar Harbor” was right. But by car and from where we were staying in Ellsworth, it was roughly 30 miles via US Highway 1 and from Bar Harbor 41 miles. With such a distant location to Mount Desert Island and the core, I began to wonder how it became a part of Acadia National Park and what did it have to offer. That alone convinced me that we should spend a day or two in that area.
If there’s one thing I could say about Acadia National Park, it’s this: You do not want to miss out on seeing Schoodic Point. Stand upon a surf-pounded stone and bear witness to the power of the Atlantic ocean. Here the wind drives the sea into spectacular waves that crash upon rocks left here by an eruption of magma millions of years ago. The rugged coastline will provide endless photographic opportunities of sea, sky, earth, tree, and wildlife.
I suggest bringing a picnic lunch and a warm blanket and spend a few hours at Schoodic Point. Walk carefully among the sepia colored granite outcrops and find black volcanic dikes which seem to cut through layers of stone. Find a spot to sit and savor the wind and sea, while spying for porpoises, dolphins, harbor seals, and shorebirds. You really won’t regret spending your time in this beautiful area.
Anvil Trail to Schoodic Head
For hiking, I suggest taking the Anvil Trail, which is a moderate 2 mile out and back trail. Park at Blueberry Hill, then walk north on Schoodic Loop Road, and you’ll find the trailhead about 450 feet from the parking lot. In roughly half a mile, the trail will take you to The Anvil where you’ll get decent views Little Moose Island. The rest of the path leads to Schoodic Head, which has an elevation of 440 feet and provides a view of Frenchman Bay. If you hike early in the morning, you might catch a glimpse of deer, raccoons, porcupines, and maybe even an elusive moose.
If you’re a photographer, you’ll want to stop at Raven’s Nest at sunset, something I learned on our second trip to Schoodic Penninsula. If you get the chance, I suggest staying for some milky way shots, since the area has some of the darkest skies on the east coast. You’ll find some of the tallest cliffs in the park and several coves well isolated from the tourists. Use the parking lot located 1.6 miles past an unofficial trailhead. If you try to park on the road or shoulder, you’ll get a ticketed and towed away. This short trail will take you through the woods to the exposed cliffs. Word of caution, stay away from the cliff edge because falling will be lethal since there’s no way to climb in or out.
Blueberry Hill to Little Moose Island
At low tied, you can walk to Little Moose Island from Blueberry Hill. I highly recommend wearing good hiking shoes, and maybe some hiking poles. The seaweed and wet rocks make it easy to slip and fall. Also When you get to the island, stick to the trails — much of the island is home to nesting birds protected by the park. Apart from those restrictions, enjoy this idyllic coastline and some of the best birdwatching Maine has to offer.
RV Camping at Schoodic Woods
Located about 3 miles southeast of Winter Harbor, Schoodic Woods holds some of the best RV camping in a National Park that I’ve seen. For roughly $40 a night, you can get a pull-through site with 50 AMP, water, and a dump station. While it is not a grand bargain, its a decent price for easy access to hiking, kayaking, night sky viewing, and picture-perfect Maine landscapes. I would have loved to stay here for Airstream, but I was too late since these sites book early and fast.
Birding with the Schoodic Institute
When we were visiting, the Schoodic Institute offered free birding groups every Tuesday Morning. For an hour, a seasoned birder will teach you all about the local birds, where they frequent, and how to identify them. The trip includes a van ride on the Schoodic auto loop. Spots for this weekly event tend to fill up fast, so be sure to reserve your spot as soon as the season opens.
We enjoyed our trip to Schoodic Penninsula, and I wished I had done more planning to stay here instead of out at Mount Desert Island. Although the Penninsula doesn’t offer as many hiking trails as the core of Acadia National Park, she makes up for in wildlife viewing, water sports, and fantastic photography spots.