August 17, 2018 | Nate Berger | Leave a comment In our first post in this series, we told you about the five best local hiking trails that are not part of Acadia National Park. In writing it, we realized there are way more than five we wanted to talk about. Really–there are just so many good trails that it is very hard to say which are the best, so here’s part two to inspire you. Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land Location: Between Franklin and Cherryfield Over 14,000 acres of beauty are on this public land that is the gateway to Downeast when heading out from Ellsworth on the beautiful Blacks Woods road. The 3.2 mile hike to the summit of Tunk Mountain takes about three hours and rewards you with amazing views of the Tunk Lake Area region below, filled with ponds, lakes, and trees. If it’s the season, munch on a blueberry–or two, or three, or four, or more as they are plentiful along the way. Choose between two trails to ascend Black Mountain in about two hours to experience similar pleasures. You can walk the Caribou Loop Trail from Black Mountain to get to Caribou Mountain in 7 miles that takes about 8 hours–which is much better than your average workday though! FMI: https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/details.pl?park_id=48 Thuya Garden Location: Northeast Harbor Do you like to walk amongst Dahlias, Dianthus, and Digitalis? While I don’t know what all of those are, the beautiful and the otherworldly Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor is populated with them and many others. Head down to Northeast Harbor on Route 3 where you can either drive up to the garden or park at the base and hike up to it. Though the garden is not locked, since it is not part of Acadia it will feel less crowded that it should for its beauty. Secret Garden author Frances Hodgson Burnett would definitely endorse this. Bring a couple dollars for the donation station; these gardens are maintained by a non-profit for public enjoyment. FMI: https://www.gardenpreserve.org/thuya-garden Cooksey Drive Overlook Location: Seal Harbor We could say that Seal Harbor area’s Cooksey Drive Overlook is often overlooked (ha- get it?!) by tourists and locals alike. From here you can see Baker Island as well as Little Cranberry Island and other gorgeous views. The overlook is only about one tenth of a mile off of Cooksey Drive, but it is a nice little trail. The rock outcrop provides a great picnic spot and is maintained as part of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. You don’t have to go miles and miles and miles to enjoy a great hike. FMI: https://mcht.org/stories/where-to-go-on-mdi-in-autumn Blagden Preserve Location: Bar Harbor This preserve is located on the western side of Bar Harbor on Higgins Road (that’s where the parking lot is) off of Indian Point Road. The trail leads to a rocky shore where hikers have been known to see seals. There are chairs and benches for you to relax and enjoy the view. This hike is about one and half miles long through a well-forested area where wildlife is abundant. While the trails are pretty rocky, they are well-marked, so wear solid footwear–and also bring your binoculars in case there are some seals off in the distance! FMI: https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/maine/placesweprotect/indian-point-blagden-preserve.xml Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden Location: Seal Harbor This private garden in Seal Harbor was created in the late 1920s and designed by Beatrix Farrand. Designed for contemplative strolling and is certainly a place where one can do just that. A variety of flowers provide an explosion of color to the backdrop of the moss which almost acts like a canvas on which the floral is the paint. The Spirit Path offers elements of East Asia to the garden with statues in some cases from over 1000 years ago. This very special place is opened about six weeks late in the summer and while it is open to the public at set times, reservations are required. FMI: https://www.rockgardenmaine.com/ Stay tuned for part three of this series, coming next week. In the meantime, leave a comment with your favorite non Acadia hikes for us all to enjoy.