Welcome to picturesque Maine, home to a rocky coastline, stunning mountain views, lush forests, pristine waterways, and a fascinating natural and cultural history. Here, the charming town of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island serves as a gateway to the beauty and adventure of Acadia National Park and Frenchman Bay. To the north, the remote wilderness of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and the adjacent Baxter State Park encompass some of the most rugged terrain in the Northeast. Journey alongside NPCA experts and key partners on land and on water to experience these unique places firsthand and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the organization is fighting to protect them.
September 22-28, 2024
7 days/6 nights
Minimum/Maximum: 12 guests/14 guests
- Engage with NPCA experts as you navigate through some of Maine’s most stunning wilderness, and contemplate the contrast between Acadia’s well-visited parkland and the remote and rugged wilderness of Katahdin
- Spend time with NPCA partner Frenchman Bay United for a firsthand account of their critical work to combat threats and protect the waters surrounding Mount Desert Island
- Immerse yourself in the beauty of Acadia National Park as you hike with a naturalist guide
- Take a guided tour of the Abbe Museum to learn about the Wabanaki People and gain a deeper understanding of their unwavering commitment to protect and preserve their culture, people and land
- Experience Acadia’s famous sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the U.S
- See Mt. Katahdin by air as you fly over the vast boreal forests and free-flowing rivers below
Day 1: September 22 - Arrivals into Bangor, ME and Transfer to Bar Harbor: After arrivals by 2:00 PM at Bangor International Airport (BGR), we’ll meet our Iconic Trip Leader at baggage claim. Once the entire group arrives, we’ll drive 1 hour and 30 minutes via private shuttle to Bar Harbor and settle into the charming Inn on Mount Desert, our home for the next three nights. This evening, we’ll gather for brief introductions and an orientation to the days ahead and enjoy a welcome reception and dinner at a local restaurant. The Inn on Mount Desert (D)
Day 2: September 23 - Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor: After breakfast at the inn this morning, we’ll embark on a guided kayak tour of Frenchman Bay, paddling the harbor and among the spectacular Porcupine Islands. We’ll take in the scenic views and keep an eye out for wildlife as we learn about a massive, proposed salmon farm in Frenchman Bay. NPCA, among other organizations, helped to bring lease applications for this project to a halt in 2022, though the work to completely terminate the project continues. Returning to shore, we will partake in a picnic lunch where a member of Frenchman Bay United, a key NPCA partner, will join us. They will provide a firsthand account of how organizations have come together in the fight to defend the natural resources of this remarkable place.
This afternoon, we’ll return to the inn to freshen up before visiting the Abbe Museum for a guided tour and introduction to the history and culture of the Native people of Maine, the Wabanaki — the People of the Dawn. While many visit Acadia and nearby areas for the physical beauty, there are layers of cultural history and stories that make this area that much more special. The Abbe Museum offers dynamic exhibits, activities and opportunities for quiet reflection that honor and share the stories of the many Indigenous people who’ve called this region home for thousands of years. We’ll learn how Acadia and Katahdin are connected through past and present migrations and celebrations of the Wabanaki people, and hear about NPCA’s efforts to help facilitate the continuation of Wabanaki cultural practices and representation in this region.
Tonight, we’ll enjoy time at our leisure to explore Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park. We’ll relax along the waterfront or walk the idyllic downtown with its array of locally-owned shops and galleries. Tonight, we’ll have the option to dine on our own, choosing among seemingly endless options of restaurants.
The Inn on Mount Desert (B, L, D)
Day 3: September 24 - Acadia National Park: Our day will begin bright and early with an optional trip to the top of stunning Cadillac Mountain, where, with warm beverages in hand, we’ll watch as the sunrise casts a morning glow over Mount Desert Island. At 1,530 feet, it is the highest point along the eastern seaboard and offers magnificent views of a glaciated coastal and island landscape. Be sure to bring a jacket! Here, our NPCA staff host will share how NPCA is working together with a coalition of environmental organizations to save these spectacular views from becoming tarnished due to regional haze pollution. We’ll return to the inn for breakfast, and then we’re off for a day of adventuring in Acadia National Park with our naturalist guide.
Starting at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, we’ll hear from NPCA experts and National Park Service staff for an introduction to Acadia. Today, our route is along Acadia’s scenic Park Loop Road, with our first stop at Wild Gardens of Acadia and the Jesup Path and Hemlock Path Loop trail, which winds its way through stands of white birch and hemlock trees. From there, we will continue to Sand Beach, a small inlet between the mountains and rocky shores. We’ll see powerful waters at Thunder Hole and start our afternoon hike nearby. Our knowledgeable guide will help us navigate the terrain as we see what makes this area unique and why it is one of the most popular parks in the country. After our hike we’ll proceed along Park Loop Road, stopping en route as we make our way to picturesque Jordan Pond. Here, we will have the opportunity to embark on another hike, or simply relax along the water and take in the surrounding landscape. This evening, we’ll dine at a local harborside lobster pound.
The Inn on Mount Desert (B, L, D)
Day 4: September 25 - Bar Harbor to Millinocket: The day starts with a leisurely breakfast at the inn before checking out, loading up and departing on an approximately 3-hour drive north, into the serene Maine wilderness. Our next stop is the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC), our home for the next three days and base for exploring Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and Baxter State Park.
Upon arrival to this woodland refuge, we’ll have lunch overlooking Millinocket Lake. We’ll have time to investigate our surroundings this afternoon via kayak or canoe, or relax lakeside with direct views of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain. After settling into our cabins, we’ll meet for dinner at NEOC’s on-site restaurant, where our NPCA staff hosts will set the stage for our time in Maine’s North Woods. The remoteness of this area lends itself well to great stargazing, so bring your binoculars and take a look at the night sky above us.
New England Outdoor Center (B, L, D)
Day 5: September 26 - Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument: After breakfast at River Diver’s Restaurant on-site, we’ll begin our day with an overview of Katahdin – literally! On a 30-minute scenic flight, we’ll get an aerial view of the greater Katahdin area.
Back on the ground, we’ll drive 1 hour to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, an 87,500-acre landscape with rich biodiversity and awe-inspiring mountains, forests and free-flowing rivers. During a picnic lunch, we’ll delve into the story of how Katahdin became a national park site. We’ll hear from our NPCA staff expert about the work that went into the Katahdin park designation, and learn about NPCA’s mission to foster community and visitor connections with the region’s natural and cultural history, while also honoring the Tribes of the region.
In the afternoon, we’ll drive Katahdin’s Loop Road, a 17-mile journey highlighting significant cultural, biological and geological features. Please note that this is a gravel road, so be prepared for a bit of a bumpy ride! We’ll stop to enjoy scenic viewpoints and hit the trail to get a better understanding of why this place has been a source of inspiration for hundreds of years. As the day comes to an end, we’ll head back to our cabins to refresh before coming together for dinner on-site at NEOC.
New England Outdoor Center (B, L, D)
Day 6: September 27 - Baxter State Park:
After having breakfast this morning at NEOC, we’ll drive 1 hour northwest to enter Baxter State Park. Upon arrival, we’ll head out on an easy 2.3 mile hike — Little and Big Niagara Falls via the Appalachian Trail — and listen as our NPCA staff host discusses the current work in the Appalachian Trail, which ends in Baxter State Park. Upon completion of our hike, we’ll share a picnic lunch at Daicey Pond, with the option to canoe or relax on the shore. Tonight, we’ll reflect on the week and conclude the evening with a joyous farewell dinner.
New England Outdoor Center (B, L, D)
Day 7: September 28 - Departures: On our final morning, we’ll enjoy breakfast before driving 1 hour and 30 minutes to the Bangor International Airport (BGR) for your mid-afternoon flight home.
Please note: Accommodations and activities are subject to change at any time due to unforeseen circumstances or circumstances beyond NPCA’s control.
MORE INFORMATION: For full details on this trip, including inclusions, exclusions, accommodations, terms and safety protocols, please download the detailed trip brochure.
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