While planning our winter Finger Lakes adventure, we knew we wanted to go back to Watkins Glen State Park. We had read that the Gorge Trail is closed for the winter, but it was hard to find out much else. First off, I assumed that the gorge trail closed for the winter because the icy conditions make it a fall hazard, but after visiting, I think the bigger concern is falling ice. It was in the 40s and 50s when we visited and there wasn’t much ice on the ground, but there was still quite a bit hanging from the rock faces.
In winter (November -April), the Gorge Trail and parts of the Indian Trail are closed to visitors for safety reasons, but from my understanding, the South Rim Trail and Finger Lakes Trail remain open through the winter. We parked at the south entrance and walked the short, muddy walk towards the gorge trail where a bridge (below) to some of the other trails was open. From the bridge, we got a breathtaking view of the gorge and the gorge trail (above). From there, we were able to walk part of the Indian Trail that took us a little into the gorge. The steps were a little slippery, but view of the rushing water and the ice was totally worth it. Not to mention, we saw two other families while we were down there. It felt like we had the place to ourselves! Compared to when we visited in the summer with hoards of tourists, I much preferred the cold and ice!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week as we head to Ithaca! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
On our first trip to Acadia, we didn’t have time to explore one whole section of the park. The Schoodic Peninsula is the only part of Acadia National Park located on mainland Maine. Schoodic is not as developed as Mount Desert Island, but there are some hiking trails and it also has a drive-able loop road. It is not nearly as crowded at Mount Desert Island. If you are looking to get away from the tourists during your time at Acadia, head over to Schoodic.
The Schoodic Peninsula is about an hour drive from the Hull’s Cove Visitor’s Center and is an easy day trip from Mt. Desert Island. To save on gas, you can catch a ferry from Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula and the Island Explorer bus can take you around the Schoodic side as well. We decided to take the drive on a rainy day and that resulted in an even more deserted experience than I was expecting, but made for some interesting photos!
At the end of the Schoodic Loop Road is Schoodic Point (above). Schoodic Point is a great place to watch the surf pound the rocks, but be careful not to get too close to the edge! Big waves can come up seemingly unexpectedly!
If you have the time on your trip to Acadia, I recommend a jaunt to the quietest part of the park. You can really get a feel for natural Maine at Schoodic and get away from the crowds. The Schoodic Woods campground is the newest campground in Acadia and can be easier to get into than the other campgrounds on Mount Desert Island.
Thanks for stopping by! Read more about this trip, visit the Mainely Acadia Trip Report! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
After we left Salem, we headed North to Maine. Upon first entering the state, I fell in love. There is something breathtaking and different about Coastal Maine. It looks like a mountain range, but smells like the beach. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. We arrived at Acadia and set up camp at Seawall Campground, which is located on the “quiet side” of the island. I didn’t really understand why they call it that until the next day.
Our first full day at Acadia was dedicated to driving the Park Loop Road. The Park Loop Road is the 27 mile road John D. Rockefeller Jr. built around Mount Desert Island so visitors can explore the park by automobile (instead of driving cars on the miles of the park’s carriage roads). We began our tour at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. While at the visitor center, we picked up an audio tour of the park look road to listen to on our drive. I really enjoyed it because we learned some history of the park as well as some information about natural side of Acadia. Also at the visitor center, we got our first taste of Acadia’s summer crowds. Holy Cow. Before this trip, I read Moon’s Acadia National Park Travel Guide and it mentioned that July and August are the busiest times to visit Acadia. I went into it picturing the Sleeping Bear Dunes on Labor Day but it was more like Disney World around Christmas. Parking lots were packed. As you can see in the Thunder Hole picture above, people were just everywhere. Truly, trying to get a clear picture was like trying to get a picture of Cinderella’s Castle without the people in it. It just wasn’t going to happen. Between the crowds and the heat, I really struggled with photographic inspiration in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
The Moon book really pushed for visitors to use the free Island Explorer Buses (sponsored by L.L. Bean). They reduce emissions and help with the crowded parking lots. We decided for our first day in the park we would drive the Park Loop Road to give us the flexibility to stop and see anything we wanted to see. One of our first stops was the Schooner Head Overlook (left). Compared to the rest of the park and other sections of the Park Loop road, this was a very quiet spot. We only saw a few people on the trail, one of which was setting up an easel to paint. This would be a great place to watch a beautiful Acadia sunrise and to catch the first rays of sun in the United States.
Of course, we had to stop at Thunder Hole (above). It was very cool to hear the waves thundering into the natural rock inlet. It really does sound like thunder. We wanted to stop at Sand Beach and see the only sandy beach in the park, but we couldn’t find a parking spot, so we kept driving. If you are looking to visit Sand Beach, I highly recommend taking the Island Explorer because we visited around 9 the next morning and the parking lot was already full.
Crowds aside, I do recommend driving the Park Loop Road at least once because the Island Explorer bus doesn’t stop at every place you may want to see. In particular, the bus does not go to the top of Cadillac Mountain, so if you want to see the highest peak on the east coast (and if you’re in Acadia, you should) you can only get there by car or by climbing it. Personally, I don’t hike something if I can drive it and I definitely don’t hike up the side of a mountain, so we drove and that is the topic for next week! Be sure to come back to hear all about it!
If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.