My dog, Juno, pranced excitedly around the parking great deal, straining at the stop of her leash. Probably she could smell the salt in the air. Or possibly she recognized the growth of waves striking the rocky shoreline.
We could not nonetheless see it, but the sprawling sand seashore was just there, by means of the snowy woods and down a flight of granite methods.
A single of the most popular places in Acadia Countrywide Park, Sand Beach front is swarming with guests in the summer time. Its two parking heaps fill up promptly every single day. But all through the wintertime, even on a bluebird working day, you may share the beach with a handful of locals and off-year holidaymakers. Or you might have it fully to oneself.
A further perk? Canine are permitted on the seaside in the winter season — but they’re not through the summer time — if you retain them on leash and choose up just after them.
Puppy squander luggage ended up among the the lots of objects that I crammed into my backpack on Dec. 21, prior to going for walks the quick route to the seaside. Other contents of my pack bundled water and snacks, a camera lens for wildlife photography, gloves, a detailed trail map, survival equipment (these types of as a fireplace starter) and ice cleats.
Ice cleats are very important for being safe throughout the winter season in Acadia, specially if you strategy to hike any trails. Though Mount Desert Island is in some cases totally free of snow for the duration of Maine’s coldest months, a lot of ice is assured.
In reality, packed snow and ice coated the steps down to Sand Beach front. I gripped the handrail of the stairs tightly, wishing I’d believed to put my ice cleats on my boots fairly than carry them in my pack for later on.
My program for the working day was bold but changeable. Crossing the seaside — with a few pauses to dig in the sand — we hopped in excess of a compact channel of drinking water that feeds into the ocean. Then we headed into the woods and uphill to hike the Wonderful Head Trail, which sorts a 1-mile loop that traces the rocky coastline to the ruins of an old teahouse.
When the hike was not notably long, it was particularly rocky, and ice and snow coated much of the path. I was reassured by the actuality that I’d hiked the Excellent Head Path in the winter just before, again in January 2014 with my past puppy, Oreo. Still, I kept a close eye on Juno. If she appeared to be having difficulties, we’d transform all-around.
Fearless, Juno scrambled up icy rock slopes and sniffed at boot tracks left in the snow. We passed a couple fellow hikers, a number of of whom weren’t sporting ice cleats. I couldn’t think about attempting to navigate the path with no the traction of metallic spikes. I hope they took it gradual and managed to return to the seaside devoid of slipping.
Weaving all-around spruce trees and pitch pines, the path led up around hills of fractured rock to reach the best of Excellent Head at 145 feet previously mentioned sea stage. Together the way, it kissed the rocky shoreline, with aspect trails primary to outcroppings and clifftops. Bufflehead ducks bobbed in the waves.
What was still left of Satterlee’s Tea Dwelling, constructed circa 1920, was just a jumble of stone and mortar, dusted with snow.
More than the many years, I’ve put in more and more time exploring Acadia for the duration of the winter, and I’ve discovered that it’s substantially more accessible than I initially considered.
Clockwise from still left: A snowman with seaweed hair and a carrot nose stands guard at Sand Seaside in Acadia Nationwide Park the tide recedes from Sand Seashore and the ruins of an previous teahouse can be found at the rear of a indicator that marks the summit of Wonderful Head. Credit rating: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki
The majority of Acadia’s Park Loop Highway is closed to motor vehicles in the course of the wintertime, however many of the park’s trails and landmarks are nevertheless reachable. And significant parking lots and customer centers these types of as Hulls Cove, Sieur de Monts and Sand Beach front remain at minimum partly open up year round.
Just one detail I appreciate most about wintertime in Acadia is the absence of overflowing parking lots.
There is practically nothing really so disheartening as driving around a comprehensive trailhead parking ton, hoping for a location to open up up so you can go on your journey. I suspect that specific circumstance is involved in just one of the 9 Circles of Hell.
The National Park Provider web-site offers a great deal of details about traveling to Acadia in the winter, such as street maps that clearly show the wintertime road closures and cross-place ski routes. But here are just a few further guidelines.
Many park services, these kinds of as restrooms and reward shops, are shut in the winter season. Trail markers may well be covered with snow, earning navigating tough. In addition, ice would make some trails in particular tough and perilous. (For instance, I really do not imagine I would ever hike the Precipice Trail or Beehive Trail during ice season. Both equally element metallic rungs and ladders embedded into cliffs.)
The Beehive (remaining) is found from the Good Head Trail. The Fantastic Head Trail traces the rocky shore of Mount Desert Island in Acadia Countrywide Park. Credit score: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki
All visitors are essential to screen a park go in their automobiles year spherical. Passes can be bought online or in man or woman at Acadia’s Sand Seaside Entrance Station or the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centre in downtown Bar Harbor.
Juno and I completed our experience by returning to the beach, wherever we watched a group of hikers increase seaweed hair to a lopsided snowman. Sitting in a dry patch of sand, we shared snacks as the tide receded.
On the reverse aspect of the seashore, the motion of two men and women sprinting towards the water caught my eye. It took me a minute to register that they were being sporting swimsuits. I smiled as I watched them leap into the freezing waves, then dart back again throughout the sand to wrap up in towels.
Winter entertaining in Acadia will come in several varieties.