In Part 2 of our Exploring Seal Harbor trip (Part 1 is here in case you missed it), we’re taking a look at Eastern side of Seal Harbor and Cooksey Drive area. This more of a drive around day trip so bring your car and get ready for some pretty views.

We’ll start at my beloved “Puking Seal” (part one explains) and follow Steam Boat Wharf Road along the water…

Seal Harbor Library

It has the be said the Mount Desert Island has some of the coolest libraries on the planet and Seal Harbor Library is no exception! We are lucky to reap the rewards of a time when communities were proud to fund not only town amenities but to make them things of beauty but I digress!

The Library is perched on the hill overlooking the harbor and is a gem of a clapboard building dating from 1890. The Library is open all year, though only on Saturdays in the winter.  Here’s an antique postcard image. Treat yourself and step inside to check out the reading room with its wall of windows and cozy fireplace, maybe grab a book and take a seat. The library is staffed by volunteers and even has a book delivery option for those unable to get there. It’s a true community institution.

The Library holds an Annual Fair on the Village Green around the end of July, so put that on the calendar to check out too.

The Town Dock and Seal Harbor Yacht Club

Both beautiful photo spots, take the “low road” below the Library to pass the Seal Harbor Yacht Club and access the dock. The Seal Harbor Yacht Club is a private club with, perhaps, a surprisingly large membership (multiple hundreds of members) given the size of the village. The club offers everything from beginners rowing and sailing to advanced racing and guest moorings during the summer.  An annual Regatta is held in August. Non members can enjoy the sheer beauty of the building and its waterfront location from Seal Harbor Town Dock.

The dock was  built in 1882 for the Eastern Steamship Company for weekly trips from Rockland, but was also used as a base for the ships that transported the wealthy (and others) to and from resorts around the island.  With the rise of the automobile in the 1930’s the dock became a boating destination with restaurant with more of a tourist bent. World War II and gas rationing led to its demise and the dock was dismantled before being purchased by the town and rebuilt in its current form. It’s a beautiful sunny spot to take pictures and breath the sea air if marine activity is at a lull.

Cooksey Drive Area

For the purposes of this article, I’m  considering the area intersected by  New County Road, Cooksey Drive, Rock Garden Drive and all the little windy roads in this area. It a great place to catch glimpses of some of the original Mount Desert Island Summer Cottages and their modern day interpretations. This is the home of some of our most wealthy residents and summer folk. I still manage to get lost in the twists and turns of these interconnected roads, but  the sheer joy of driving them and the beautiful scenery and houses makes that worthwhile and once the leaves have fallen  the rewards double. Just be sure you respect the privacy of the landowners.

If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, this area offers great some walking opportunities.

Cooksey Drive Overlook

A short way beyond the intersection of Rock Garden Drive and Cooksey Drive you’ll find the small parking lot for the Cooksey Drive Overlook. This is Maine Coast Heritage Trust Land and has a short trail to the oceanfront for some amazing views. However, take care as you’re at the top of a cliff!

Hunters Beach and Hunter Cliff Trail

You may have heard of Hunters Beach, a pebble beach accessed by a short trail that runs down Hunters Brook from a small parking lot on Cooksey Drive. This spot is less travelled in the summer so can provide a quiet refuge. Less well know is the Hunter’s Cliff Trail that runs west from Hunter’s Beach to intersect with Route 3 close to the Lower Day Mountain Trail parking lot. The trail quickly leaves Acadia National Park and follows the shoreline for a short way then swings inland through attractive granite, brush, and woodland. (It has some good blueberry action in August.) The trail is marked by small cairns so some concentration is required and you get some nice ocean views. If you explore the side trails you’ll find posts and railings – the remains of (what I have always know as) Seacliff path that ran from Seal Harbor to Hunter’s Beach. The trail is no longer connected as it runs through private land, but it must have been a good challenging hike in the day! Cooksey Drive was originally named Seacliff Drive and was built in 1895 by George Cooksey (I guess we can figure out who it was renamed after!) Back in the day, Seal Harbor had its own “shore path” which ran from Seal Harbor to  Hunter’s Beach.

Lower Day Mountain

This is a trail I wasn’t aware of for a long time and connects Cooksey Drive to the Day Mountain Parking lot on Route 3. I’m assuming that it’s maintained as part of the Seal Harbor VIS trails. You can add it to a hike of Day Mountain when the upper parking lot on Route 3 fills up in the summer of simply take the dog for a quick walk through the woods.

Having explored you can head back to Seal Harbor for a bite at the Coffee Shop Cafe or head to one of our Bar Harbor watering holes.

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