A Small Private Campground
Mainstay Cottages & RV Park, with only 5 cottages and 10 RV sites, promises to help you “Take a step back in time and let the ocean’s rhythms soothe the soul” and they deliver. From the moment you enter this private waterfront oasis, on the shores of Henry’s Cove and overlooking the Cadillac Mountain and Acadia National Park, you can feel the serenity.
As a matter of fact, when you arrive Pearl Barto, the great-granddaughter of Jabez Myrick who settled this area in 1845, welcomes you and tells you the first thing you need to do is go find a spot and soak in the scenery and slow down. So … We did as she suggested and let the beauty of the place wash over us, took in the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and then (and only then) did we seek out the nightlife, visit one of the many restaurants or attend one of the year-round “Schoodic Arts for All” workshops – there was something for everyone. After all, the ferry to Bar Harbor was only a few steps away so one could quickly re-enter the fast mainstream of life in a tourist village.
We were so impressed with the look and feel of this place that we immediately changed our plans so we could stay longer than the 4 nights originally planned.
The Village of Winter Harbor
The small, pedestrian (and dog) friendly village of Winter Harbor looks like it stepped right out of a classic children’s book —an eastern Maine waterfront fishing village that’s off the beaten path, directly across from Bar Harbor, with cool coastal breezes, a handful of little shops, a five & dime store, lots of local ‘lobstah’, a friendly vibe and it’s only three miles to the Acadia National Park.
Winter Harbor’s Farmers Market
Held every Tuesday and Friday from 9:00-11:30 is a small Farmer’s Market in Winter Harbor that is within walking distance from Mainstay Cottages & RV park. We enjoyed going and were able to purchase organic veggies, free range eggs, and grass-fed pork but did find pricing to be high.
We were treated to three old codgers from the local area having breakfast at the next table at a local restaurant. The average age had to be in the 80’s or 90’s and they were hilarious with their thick accents and “down home” humor with some one-upmanship. My dad could have easily been at that table, holding his own with that little smile he gets when he says something funny, and in-between my bouts of laughter, it made me a little homesick.
Acadia National Park – Schoodic Peninsula
It’s not the crowded part of Acadia National Park that you’ve heard about. This part of the park is on the Schoodic Peninsula mainland, and feels forgotten with its windswept, rocky points, and miles of stunning ocean coastline. In this section of Acadia National Park a new campground, Schoodic Woods, opened a little less than one year ago, and offers large, private sites, and a bounty of ranger-led activities. Definitely a campground we would consider booking in the future if for some reason we couldn’t get in to Mainstay Cottages and RV park.
Exploring the park, we drove the 6 mile, one way loop road around the park, at different times throughout the day, and were awed with its views of lighthouses, seabirds, eagles, and forested islands which were often accessible by foot during low tide. We also explored many of the park’s dog friendly 8+ miles of hiking trails and the additional 8 miles of bike paths. Díd I mention it is not crowded and feels forgotten? I fear it won’t stay that way for long, so if you are thinking about exploring this area, you had better hurry. However, if you are looking for the crowds go to the Acadia National Park region of Mount Desert Island and you won’t be disappointed.
Acadia National Park – Mount Desert Island
Well, we couldn’t come this far and not visit one of the top ten most visited National Park areas in the United States with over two million visitors a year, so we went to this much larger part of Acadia National Park. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center and the ranger began telling us all about the area and she asked where we were staying. When we told her, her eyes lit up and she asked if we had gone to Schoodic Peninsula, we assured her we had, and then she lowered her voice and whispered “don’t tell anyone about it, it is Acadia National Park’s little secret, away from the crowds.”
We have to admit Mount Desert Island was crowded – with people walking, people hiking, tour buses, trolley cars, horse-drawn buggy tours (Carriages of Acadia), and cars. (There was also a cruise ship in town.) It was like you were running an obstacle course trying to make your way around without hitting anyone. Did I mention it was beautiful?
We drove the Park Loop Road on a 27 mile mainly one way ride along oceanside cliffs and through mountain forests, and we stopped at numerous scenic outlooks and several notable attractions.
- Thunder Hole: Be sure to plan your trip to go just before high tide when the surf rushes through a naturally carved inlet and explodes 40 feet into the air with a roar. (We didn’t think that far ahead so it was just a sweet little inlet for us.)
- Sand Beach: A cozy, popular, 290 yard wide beach between two mountains that draws thousands of visitors a day to play in its 55 degree water. (We looked at it from the cliffs above, but passed – it looked and sounded like a “mad house.”)
- The Precipice: This is a part of the over 125 miles of the park’s hiking/biking trails and includes a 1,000 foot vertical climb. We didn’t do this one but we saw other people getting ready to do it with their climbing equipment and ropes.
- Jordan Pond House: Opened in the 1800’s and is the only place in the park to get food. It is famous for its fresh, warm popovers with strawberry jam, homemade ice cream, and lunch/dinner. If you want to get in you need to do call-ahead-seating at 207-276-3316.
- Cadillac Mountain: You can hike, bike, or drive (guess which one we did) the 3.5 miles to the summit of 1,530 feet to enjoy the 360 degree views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Cranberry Isles. On a clear day it is said you can see over a 100 miles.
It was all so beautiful but we were glad to be returning “home” to the Schoodic Peninsula. We couldn’t wait to re-enter our little oasis and “Take a step back in time …” after such an exhausting day at Mount Desert Island.
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