7 Family Friendly Things to Do on Mount Desert Island

By Lilly Longshore

The Maine AttractionThis summer my family converged on Maine’s scenic rugged coast from five far-away states to celebrate our biannual family reunion, this time on Mount Desert Island. The majority of the island is occupied by Acadia National Park, America’s oldest national park east of the Mississippi. The park will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year and thanks to preservation efforts, today’s tourists can enjoy many of the same sights and experiences as they did in 1916. In our large diverse family, interests and activity levels vary, and ages run the gamut from 4 to “senior.” Yet all of us, including myself, a quadriplegic who yearns for the great outdoors, found that the island had plenty to offer. Here are a few highlights:

1. Biking, strolling and rolling by wheelchair along the 53 miles of gently sloping, hard-packed dirt and gravel carriage roads topped my list. Arched, stone bridges scattered throughout the park reminded me of the influence the Rockefellers had on the area by building these roads.

I admired the picturesque view of Eagle Lake with Cadillac Mountain in the distance, and was thrilled watching ducks veiled by the rushes growing at the waters’ edge.

2. Cadillac Mountain offered scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean from its 1,529-foot summit and provided gently sloping, serpentine paved trails for ambling and wheeling. Multiple platforms gave different vantage points along the trails to admire small emerald islands in the sapphire sea.

3. Jordan Pond House hosted an afternoon tea featuring popovers, traditional hollow muffin-like pastries. After perusing the accessible gift shop, we followed a sloped, hard-packed trail that led from behind the house to Jordan Pond. Walkers and bikers could continue the trail right and left around the pond to the Carriage Roads, but it was too rocky to go beyond the east edge by wheelchair. The view of the North and South Bubble Mountains was lovely from the pond’s edge where I sat.

4. My favorite climbing area, Thunder Hole, presented mesmerizing views of powerful waves crashing against stacks of rock, transforming into spray that fell harmlessly back to the sea. Many trails ran along rocky ledges, providing hours of fun for the younger members of our family. I had the perfect view of the whole scene from atop the viewing platform.