Sunrise at Deep Cove on Isle au Haut, part of Acadia National Park’s nearly 50,000-acre swath of prime Maine coast.Photo Credit : Jerry Monkman/Ecophotography
Jerry Monkman has spent more days photographing Maine’s Acadia National Park than nearly anywhere else on earth. Having published two books on Acadia, a place that attracts more than 3 million visitors a year, Monkman is well versed in not only its most famous attractions but also its lesser-known beauty spots. These are five of his favorites.
This is where I watch the sunrise when I’m in Bar Harbor and want to avoid the crowds (looking at you, Cadillac Mountain). Beautiful views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands are accompanied by a soundtrack of the tide washing against cobblestones, the cries of gulls, the clamor of outgoing fishing boats. Adding to the ambience: the stone foundations of the cottage that was once home to preservationist George Dorr. I like to imagine him sitting on these same rocks and getting the inspiration to both lobby the federal government to create Acadia and to persuade Boston and New York elites to donate the land that would become the park.
Getting to Isle au Haut requires a six-mile boat ride from Stonington, which means I’ll rarely see more than a dozen people over the course of a day on the island’s park trails. About a 30-minute walk from the NPS campground in Duck Harbor, Deep Cove at low tide reveals undulating white granite ledges against the blue backdrop of the Atlantic. This is a place of spectacular sunrises and, at night, great views of the Milky Way.
Though it’s famed for hiking trails leading to bald granite peaks, when Mount Desert Island is cloaked in fog or drizzle I find its woodland paths to be a peaceful antidote to daily life. And my favorite of these is the Jordan Stream Trail, which starts just steps away from the throngs at Jordan Pond but quickly ducks into dark, quiet forests. I’m also attracted by its evergreens juxtaposed with old hardwoods—I can lose an entire autumn afternoon wandering through the trees and photographing the fall hues lining Jordan Stream and its small cascades.
For me, the Schoodic Peninsula is where the “real” Down East Maine begins, with its small villages and picturesque working harbors. And while it’s part of Acadia, the fact that it’s nearly an hourlong drive from Mount Desert Island keeps many away. The shoreline along the Park Loop Road, east of the Alder Trail, offers several cobblestone coves that are just right for picnics and listening to the waves against the stones. Bring binoculars to keep watch for seals and seabirds.
Despite sitting just off the busy Park Loop Road, this place feels secluded thanks to its small, nondescript parking area. Wooden steps lead through evergreens next to a cascading stream, and down to the small cobblestone beach; stepping foot on it feels like entering a sanctuary. Low, rocky headlands reach out to the ocean, while tall spruces grow atop the ledges and wrap around the beach, creating a theaterlike ambience.