Of the nearly 3 million people who visit Acadia National Park every year, very few leave the main park to see the smaller, but nonetheless spectacular Schoodic Peninsula. Located about an hour’s drive east of Mount Desert Island on the other side of Frenchman Bay, this 24,000 acre peninsula is home to striking granite headlands, rocky beaches, spruce-fir forests, and a brand new campground. This past weekend we went over to check it out.
The Schoodic Peninsula has been part of Acadia NP since 1929, but only in the last year did they add a campground and nearly nine miles of brand new carriage trails. We drove a loop though the Schoodic Woods campground and were very impressed. The sites are well spaced and level, with a hard packed gravel surface and adequate trees for privacy. All sites have electric hook-ups, and some have water as well. There is a dump station and nice bathroom facilitates, but no showers, which seems strange for a brand new campground without sewer hook-ups.
It’s a big campground with 92 sites, including 9 walk-in tent sites. I couldn’t find any information online about RV size limits, but we drove past several really long pull thru-sites in the B loop that looked like they would fit even the most beastly Class A motorhome sporting a billion and one slide outs. All the sites are reservable, and while the park recommends reserving in advance, when drove through mid-day on a Saturday the campground was only half full. I wonder if that will change as more people learn about the campground? Oh, and as a bonus, unlike the NPS campgrounds in the main area of the park, Schoodic Woods has both Verizon & AT&T service. I can definitely see us staying there in the future.
After touring the campground we set out to drive the six-mile, one way park loop road. If your don’t want to drive yourself there’s also a free shuttle that travels around the peninsula. Biking is also a popular option. We also saw a good number of people riding the loop road, and while we tend to dislike biking on roads with cars, the two lane, one way road with a low speed limit seems like a fairly safe option.
At the end of the peninsula we stopped at Schoodic Point for a look around. Lots of people were out enjoying the view and picnicking on the rocks, but like the campground, the parking lot was only partially full and it didn’t feel crowded at all.
After exploring around for a bit we continued on to the Blueberry Hill parking area where we found a quiet spot for lunch with a view.
The water looked really inviting and we considered going for a short paddle. It was nearly low tide though, and we would have had to carry the kayaks across a large expanse of very slanted rock, so we decided against it. Instead, we crossed the street and hiked up the Anvil Trail to Schoodic Head. It was only a mile to the summit, and we enjoyed the mixed terrain consisting of gnarly rocks and roots, exposed rock and flat forested path — a typical Acadia kind of hike.
The view at the summit wasn’t very impressive so we continued another two-tenths of a mile to the overlook where the trees were more open allowing for a better view.
On the way down we made a loop by taking the Alder trail which offered another view of Mt. Desert Island before plunging below the tree line for the final descent.
It was a rather short hike at only 2.5 miles, so we decided to use our extra energy for a ride on the new carriage trails. The 8.5 miles of looping, up and down trails were opened at the same time as the new campground and provide an appealing place for bikers who prefer trails to roads.
These trails have many of the same qualities that make the carriage trails in the main part of the park so great — wide, hard packed gravel, gentle curves, and pretty views. We ended up riding a 9-mile loop that had a LOT of long ups and downs. In general, I would say that these trails are bit more hilly than the main section of the park, so if you’re looking for a workout this is the place to go.
The only complaint about these trails was that in places the gravel was a bit loose which worried me on some of the steep, curvy downhill sections, I suspect that will improve as more people use these new trails. On the plus side, we really enjoyed the helpful trail markers with maps at all the intersections.
Overall, we had a very enjoyable day trip to the Schoodic Peninsula. It was nice to get away from the crowds for a bit, and while it’s much smaller than the main park, I can see us spending a week camped over here the next time we visit the area.