Acadia National Park Stories and Tips

Bar Island - Bar Harbor Maine

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member

This is a fun hike, but you have to check the low tide and high tide before doing this hike. Bar Harbor and Bar Island are connected by a sandbar. Bar Harbor, the sandbar, and the island combine to form the harbor, within Frenchman Bay. Vessels entering the harbor don’t venture beyond the sandbar because even at high tide they would risk running aground if they tried crossing the sandbar. Tides average 8 to 12 feet between extremes.

At low tide you can either walk or drive across the sandbar and then hike up and explore Bar Island. There is a road that stretches the length of the sandbar. But be aware it is only at low tide that the islands connect. So if you don’t want to lose your vehicle or get stuck on the island, get off before the tide starts coming back in.

To get to Bar Island as you come into Bar Harbor, watch for Bridge Street on your left. The sandbar is located at the end of Bridge Street. There is plenty of parking to the right and left. Then just walk on down and cross the sandbar to the island. Low tide exposes thousands of mussels on the sandbar. As you cross, look to your left at the huge mansions dotting the shoreline. This was once known as "Millionaire’s Row".

Once you’re on the island you can view the sites along the Frenchman Bay coastline. You’ll come to a fire gate blocking vehicles from proceeding any further onto the island; follow the trail that rises beyond the gate. As you pass through a large field you can have a picnic there if you’d like. Pass the field, go to the left, and start the trek up. If you don’t have proper shoes on you might find it a little hard to navigate. Smell the pines in the air as you climb toward the top of the island. You’ll go through one more field before coming out at the top. An old flag pole in a pile of stones marks the top of the trail. From here you have all kinds of sites. You can look out over the town of Bar Harbor and the town pier with various boats and vessels anchored or moving around in the harbor or bay. Looking further you can see Bald Porcupine Island and Sheep Porcupine Island lying between Bald and Bar islands.

Enjoy the hike and the views but don’t linger too long; this is an out-and-back hike and you best watch the tides.

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