Mount Desert Island: Active and Outside

Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Steve Kelly, Associate Publisher, Maine Home+Design and Maine magazines


Steve Kelly, Associate Publisher, Maine Home+Design and Maine magazines


When I was growing up, my parents would take my sister and me camping most summers. While I’m sure we went to a number of different lakes, ponds, and campgrounds around the state, our time on Mount Desert Island has always remained a strong memory for me—fishing in Southwest Harbor, hiking miles of trails, biking on the loop road (a punishing ride for my twelve-year-old legs!), but mostly, I remember the experience of being together. For the last four years I’ve taken our son camping in Acadia. We do the things my family did when I was growing up, as well as explore new trails that are unique to our experience together. Coming up to the island with my wife, Jocelyn, for a weekend away is a treat we’ve both been looking forward to.



7:40 p.m. @ Bass Cottage Inn 
Driving over the Trenton Bridge onto Mount Desert Island at twilight is about as sublime as it gets. Soft pastels color the sky. The road surrounded by water and majestic trees complete the scene. I want to pull over and photograph every moment—it’s that striking. Down a quiet lane off Main Street in Bar Harbor, the stately Bass Cottage Inn awaits our arrival. In 2003, innkeepers Teri and Jeffrey Anderholm saved the inn from demolition and spent just under two years in a full renovation. They left the corporate life to pursue their dream of owning and operating a luxurious inn in an area of unsurpassed beauty. They went through every room, every board, and every piece of trim, to painstakingly restore this renowned property, all the while outfitting the inn with touches of twenty-first century life. After we drop our bags and take a few minutes to settle in, we seek out some advice on where to eat, deciding on Mache Bistro for dinner.

8:00 p.m. @ Mache Bistro 
Our meal and experience at Mache Bistro is the perfect remedy for these two tired and hungry travelers. The hanger steak and grilled salmon, as well as our salads highlight chef Kyle Yarborough’s command of the culinary arts, and our meal leaves us satisfied, relaxed, and ready for a good night’s sleep. On our walk back from Mache Bistro, we pass by Michael Boland’s Havana, which just wrapped up an expansion. The restaurant now offers a beautiful covered outdoor setting, with a menu centered on grilled fare that is completely different from the one available inside. The Parrilla, as the outdoor eatery is called, allows for 35 additional seats at this popular spot.



7:00 a.m. @ Bar Harbor 

I’m up early on this foggy morning for a quiet walk around town. At the harbor I come upon the four-masted, 151-foot-long, red-sailed schooner Margaret Todd as she waits patiently for the fog to break. I make my way from Agamont Park by the water down West Street and up Rodick Street to find Morning Glory Bakery. It’s ten minutes before they open and there is already a line. After having numerous debates with myself about what to get, I settle on a wonderfully wound, warm cinnamon roll. I do my best to save a bite for Jocelyn.

8:10 a.m. @ Bass Cottage Inn 
Back at the inn, it’s time for breakfast. We head downstairs to the bright and airy dining room. Breakfast starts with a flaky cinnamon nut roll (I indulge in my second cinnamon roll of the day). The inn offers guests three options: a sweet, a savory, and a lighter choice. We both order the Huevos: poached eggs over a polenta cakes with bean compote.

9:30 a.m. @ Bar Harbor Bike Shop 

I’m training for the thirtieth Trek Across Maine and need to get some more miles on my legs. I grab a road bike from the Bar Harbor Bike Shop, and after a chat with the crew about potential routes, I set out to cover some ground.

10:00 a.m. on Acadia Park Loop Road 
The park loop road in Acadia is just a couple of miles out of town. I pass the sweeping 43-acre campus of Jackson Labs. With nearly 1,300 employees, this genetic research lab is the largest employer in the region. On the well-maintained Park Loop Road, traffic turns to two lanes of one-way scenic cruising. While the town and park are busy, the traffic on the road is light. I’ve driven this road numerous times, but haven’t biked it since I was young. Cool temps, minimal traffic, well cared-for roads, and stunning views make this the most scenic and enjoyable ride I’ve had all year. The loop from Bar Harbor and up Cadillac Mountain is roughly 25 miles with numerous hills (one big hill in particular) but also plenty of stops to recharge, take in the views, and enjoy.

10:00 a.m. on the Shore Path 

While I’m on my ride, on the recommendation of our innkeeper, Jocelyn runs the Shore Path, a beautiful scenic dirt path that hugs the coastline and makes its way back to town, where she continues onto the Meadow Loop. These next two miles weave through the woods, along the Park Loop Eoad, and past the Kebo Valley Golf Club. Afterwards, she swings into the Independent Cafe for a latte, where she chats up owner Timothy Rich, who happens to be from Portland, and then stops into Bark Harbor on Main Street to picks up a treat for our dog.

12:30 p.m. in Bar Harbor 
We catch up with my coworker Rebecca and her family. They’ve spent a part of the day walking town with their young daughter. We make plans to meet later at the Azalea and Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor.

12:45 p.m. @ Finback Alehouse 
We stop by this popular pub for a bite and to recover from our run and ride. The owners also own Blaze (a wood-fired pizza restaurant) in Bar Harbor, as well as a newly opened spot in Bangor. They have an extensive craft beer list, great pub food (beer-battered fish and chips for me, please) and a laid-back atmosphere.

2:30 p.m. @ Asticou Azalea + Thuya Gardens 
Meandering paths take you through the Asticou, a meticulous Japanese-inspired garden. Jocelyn and I had visited the garden years ago and I recently came across the piles of notes we took on each plant. Each garden, while dramatically different in style and form, will bring inspiration to the greenest of thumbs and a sense of calm to anyone.

4:00 p.m. @ Bass Cottage Inn 
We head back to our room to relax and enjoy a few cookies with a cup of tea, and make plans for where to eat.

7:30 p.m. @ Cafe This Way 
This fun and funky cafe offers a relaxed atmosphere, with unique and traditional dishes. We start with the fried Brussels sprouts with house-cured bacon, pumpkin seeds, honey, sriracha, and fresh lime. Then we order the pepper-crusted tuna special and the roast chicken breast, which are both well worth it.

8:45 p.m. @ Mount Desert Island Ice Cream 

This shop, with two locations in Bar Harbor and one in Portland, scoops creative, artisanal flavors of ice cream.  Jocelyn gets a “reverse-engineered root beer float” and I choose the “chocolate malt ball.” We take a few minutes to walk the village green and then head back to the inn.



8:00 a.m. @ Yoga at Cattitude 
After my ride yesterday, I’m in need of some deep stretching and head over to this sunny, second-floor studio that offers refuge from the busy downtown. In this hour-long class, instructor Dennis Kiley weaves a tapestry of movement (asana and Qigong) and inspiration (Sufi poets, Tao Te Ching, and the Art of War) into a powerful and uplifting class. In its tenth year, Cattitude has created a strong, connected, and caring community.

9:15 a.m. @ Bass Cottage Inn 
Our final breakfast is sublime—a beautifully presented Ducktrap smoked salmon scramble over a latke, topped with capers and sour cream. Jeffrey and Teri have been gracious and helpful hosts, and it is tough to leave, but we say our goodbyes and head out. We grab a coffee at the lively Coffee Hound Coffee Bar and take one last drive.

10:00 a.m. on Loop Road 
We take one final loop on the Park Loop Road. The Jordan Pond house is opening for the season and it’s packed! Up the road we take a look at the horses as well as the carriage ride schedule at Wildwood Stables. Then we point our car towards the mainland and begin the journey home.

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