The sun is out and we’re hungry – Picnic time!

Living on MDI, we are truly spoiled for beautiful scenery and there is nothing better than packing a lunch stealing away  from it all. Here are 5 lesser known favorite picnic spots of mine… but before we give it all away here’s some basic picnic etiquette!

To Dos For Picnicking on MDI (or anywhere)

First and foremost make sure you aren’t trespassing. Given that much of Mount Desert Island is also Acadia National Park or protected land, we are kind of used to going where we please, but private land is just that, no matter how pretty the view.

Pack it in, pack it out. When you go home, take everything with you. No one wants their picnic view to be your trash. Also organic matter, despite its ability to decompose, can change an ecosystem so don’t think it’s ok to leave food waste/dog poop etc.

Share the space. Their picnic is just as important as yours. Keep kids, Frisbee’s, footballs, and animals under control and/or occupied.

Safety first. Help Smokey out and ensure that grills and firepits are completely out before you leave. Bring some additional water or smother with sand/dirt. (Make sure you bring local firewood with you to keep invasive pests at bay.)

Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen, you want to have good memories after all.

Music can be nice, but be mindful of your fellow picnickers and don’t frighten the wildlife! The group on the next picnic table you may not want to listen to the Macarena even if you do!

Don’t feed the wildlife! That cute bear cub will grow up and future picnickers may not have brought enough sandwiches…. Now you’ll have a small child’s death on your conscience. Also if wildlife isn’t moving or being too friendly, it’s often injured so if you do see something, let authorities (like the police department or park service) know.

Ok on to the fun stuff!

Pretty Marsh Picnic Area

On the  “Quietside” and part of Acadia National Park this location remains pretty quiet. The area is pretty densely forested with secluded picnic tables giving a sense of privacy. Picnic sites have wheelchair accessible parking, tables and fire-grills. Beyond the picnic sites, the terrain is a bit rougher and fun for exploring the old growth woods. There is a steepish staircase with landing areas to access the beach with views over Pretty Marsh Harbor towards Blue Hill Bay and Bartlett Island. The area has restroom facilities. This area is open in June and closes in the fall (there’s a gate), and it’s a great place to escape from the crowds as it is under the radar even then.

GPS: 44.333169 -68.406846

Compass Harbor

If you live and work in downtown Bar Harbor, this is a great little spot to escape to. Whilst walk-able right from town, there is a parking area on Route 3 just beyond the Cromwell Harbor Motel. The harbor beach and rocky area on the shore is a short walk through the woods and doesn’t have any facilities, so it’s a more for the rough and ready lunch break than Martha Stewart picnic. This is also a fun kayak destination from town as you can paddle adjacent to the Shore Path and the coast line and easily beach you boat in the harbor.

If you have more time, take in the Compass Harbor Trail and discover the remains of Dorr’s mansion.

GPS: Lat. 44.373799 Long. -68.197680, Elev. 29 M ( note: GPS Co-ordinates are for the parking area)

Hadley Point Beach

A Town of Bar Harbor Park, Hadley Point is maintained as a multi use area with motorized and hand-powered boat launch and access to clamming flats. There is an outhouse facility, but not picnic tables or fire-grills. There is plenty of parking directly on the beach and you’ll often see people with beach fire pits and portable grills. This is a great place learn about local fishery operations as the mudflats are worked by commercial shellfish and worm harvesters. You might also run into aquaculture farmers putting in to access their mussel beds and oyster farms. Having said that, it’s also a great place to catch a sunset and spend some quiet time. The area is accessible year round, so great for a winter car picnic by the water.

GPS: Lat. 44.443906 Long. -68.319175, Elev. 7 m

Suminsby Park

Definitely and surprisingly under the tourist radar given its location towards the end of Sargent Drive, this is a hidden gem even if it is a former dump! The picnic area was created on donated land in memory of beloved NE Harbor resident Bob Suminsby and is an amazing spot right on Somes Sound. In addition to well-spaced picnic tables and fire-grills, there are outhouse facilities, a boat launch and plenty of grassy lawn areas for the kids. There has been a volleyball net in place when I’ve been there, but I’m not sure if that’s a regular thing or if someone was planning a picnic party. This would be a good spot for lose with limited mobility/all terrain wheelchair.

GPS:  Lat. 44.336289 Long. -68.304176, Elev. 16 m

Acadia Mountain

Looking for some long distance views over Somes Sound and a bit of exercise too? Maine Coast Heritage Trust has a small preserve on the Northern slopes of Acadia Mountain. Be aware this is a backpack and bug spray location and the steep access paths may make it unsuitable for some, but you’ll be the only one there. It’s a unique spot. The area is  wooded, but hillside clearings over look the Sound or give mountain views. The area is accessed via unpaved roads off Hall Quarry. There is limited parking on the shoulder and at the base of the walking trails that lead to a couple of picnic tables with great views. Bear in mind what you pack, though not long the trails are a bit steeper, and you’ll be carrying in from the car. There are no additional facilities and camping/fires are not permitted. This preserve area is surrounded by private land, so check the MCHT map of the site don’t go exploring beyond the preserve!

GPS: Lat. 44.3286765 Long. -68.3204729 Elev. 75 m (note: GPS co-ordinates are on Hannibals Way, the road through the preserve, not a specific trailhead/picnic spot)

And a bonus one…..

Not on Mount Desert Island, but worth the visit if you have a bit more time why not head over to Schoodic? Frazer Point Picnic Area is just before the start of the scenic loop. Situated on a flat grassy area right next to the water, you’ll find plenty of tables and fire-grills, restroom facilities and even trash cans.

GPS: Lat. 44.374892 Long. -68.074710 Elev. 8 m

Here’s hoping this blog post encourages you to take your meal out of doors and enjoy some beautiful local spots!


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