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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Posted: May 24, 2016

Acadia base camps: 14 places to sleep under the stars in and near Maine’s national park

Written by: Carey Kish
Photo courtesy of Mount Desert Campground

A tent pitched overlooking Somes Sound at Mount Desert Campground. Photo courtesy of the campground.

Camping along the coast of Maine is a longtime tradition, and this summer there may be no better place to enjoy a night or two – maybe even a week – under the stars next to a crackling campfire than in and around Acadia National Park, which is celebrating the 100th year of its founding.

On Mount Desert Island, campers can unload their outdoor toys and set up a home-away-from-home at either of two campgrounds in Acadia National Park or one of 11 privately operated campgrounds near the park.

A new park campground on Schoodic Peninsula and a remote site on Isle au Haut reached by mailboat round out the many overnight options amid some of Maine’s most idyllic natural scenery.

Consider these Acadia camping recommendations with suggestions for nearby fun things to do outdoors.

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND – NORTH SHORE

Hadley's Point Beach. Photo courtesy of homeaway.com

The beach at Hadley’s Point Campground. Photo courtesy of homeaway.com.

HADLEY’S POINT CAMPGROUND

Hadley Point separates the ocean waters of Mount Desert Narrows and Eastern Bay, and that’s where you’ll find this camper’s haven of grassy and wooded sites with plenty of amenities. A saltwater beach and heated swimming pool are big bonuses after a day of bicycling Acadia’s carriage roads, hiking Cadillac Mountain or sea kayaking on Frenchman Bay. Upgrade to a wood-frame cabin amid the white pines for an extra measure of comfort. Open May 15 to Oct. 15. Contact: hadleyspoint.com, 288-4808

SOUTHEASTERN MOUNT DESERT ISLAND

Camping scene in Blackwoods. Photo courtesy of throughthewwoofingglass.wordpress.com

A campsite at Blackwoods. Photo courtesy of throughthewwoofingglass.wordpress.com.

BLACKWOODS CAMPGROUND

Named for the dark green of the maritime spruce and fir forest that surrounds it, this park campground is on Route 3 in the village of Otter Creek, 5 miles south of Bar Harbor. Open year-round, the campground charges an overnight fee from May 1 through Oct. 31, when the facility is staffed by rangers. It provides easy access to the Park Loop Road for bicycling, while hikers can tackle Cadillac Mountain via the South Ridge Trail or make for Otter Cliffs and Gorham Mountain on the Quarry and Otter Cove trails. Contact: nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/camping.htm

CENTRAL MDI

 Courtesy Mount Desert Campground

A campsite overlooking Somes Sound at Mount Desert Campground. Photo courtesy of the campground.

MOUNT DESERT CAMPGROUND

This quiet, wooded campground on saltwater at the head of Somes Sound has been family-owned and operated since 1958. Campers will enjoy a full range of amenities, from a camp store and hot showers to electricity and water plus Wi-Fi. The campground is located in the heart of Mount Desert Island, 8 miles from Bar Harbor and 5 miles from Northeast Harbor or Southwest Harbor, with access to explorations on Somes Sound by sea kayak, boat or canoe, or on foot over the nearby trails of Norumbega and Sargent mountains. Contact: mountdesertcampground.com, 244-3710

Photo courtesy of Smuggler's Den Campground

Campers at Smuggler’s Den Campground. Photo courtesy of the campground.

SMUGGLER’S DEN CAMPGROUND

The Worcester family established this campground in 1969 in the woods off Route 102 north of Southwest Harbor and has been operating it ever since. Tents, campers and RVs are all welcome, and cozy cabins are available, too. The sandy beach at Echo Lake is just minutes away, but there’s a heated pool onsite if you want to stay close to swim. Nearby trails lead to views of Somes Sound from atop Acadia and St. Sauveur mountains, or tackle the iron ladder trail up to stunning Beech Cliff. Contact: smugglersdencampground.com, 244-3944

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND – SOUTH SHORE

SEAWALL CAMPGROUND

Located on Route 102A, 4 miles south of Southwest Harbor, this pretty camping spot in Acadia National Park is named for the natural seawall nearby. Seawall is open from late May through Sept. 5, when it will close early for renovations. At the adjacent Seawall Picnic Area, a half-mile of cobbled seawall forms a natural barrier between land and sea. Several miles west are the short, scenic hiking trails at Wonderland and Ship Harbor, not far from the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Contact: nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/camping.htm

 Courtesy Quietside Campground

A tent in the bucolic Tremont woods at Quietside Campground. Photo courtesy of the campground.

QUIETSIDE CAMPGROUND

This small, secluded campground in the woods of Tremont truly lives up to its name. Enjoy your stay at a tent camping platform, in a rustic cabin or get real comfy in a log cabin with all the amenities. Whatever you choose, you’ll enjoy the green and simple, nature-based atmosphere of this special place. Quietside is close to the ferry that serves Frenchboro and Swan’s islands, a couple of throwback locales worth a visit. The trails on Western and Beech mountains are just a short drive away. Open mid-June through Columbus Day. Contact: campingnearacadia.com, 244-0566

SCHOODIC PENINSULA

Schoodic Woods Campground. Photo by Carey Kish

Schoodic Woods Campground has more than 90 campsites. Photo by Carey Kish.

SCHOODIC WOODS CAMPGROUND

This new Acadia National Park campground on the west side of Schoodic Peninsula just 3 miles south of Winter Harbor opened in late summer 2015. Over 90 campsites accommodate everything from walk-in tent campers to RVs. Electricity and water are available at select sites. From Schoodic Woods, visitors can explore this wonderful 1,600-acre addition to the park via 4 miles of hiking trails and 8.5 miles of gravel-surfaced bike paths. Contact: nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/camping.htm

ISLE AU HAUT

Duck Harbor Campground, Acadia National Park. Photo by V Snow

A lean-to in Duck Harbor Campground on Isle Au Haut. Photo by V. Snow.

DUCK HARBOR CAMPGROUND

A primitive, walk-in campground featuring five lean-to shelters is maintained by Acadia National Park at Duck Harbor on the west side of Isle au Haut, a 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland at Stonington on the mailboat. Open now through Oct. 15. Reservations and a special-use permit obtainable by mail are mandatory. The campground offers easy access to 18 miles of spectacular coastal hiking trails. Contact: nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/upload/IsleAuHaut-2011-small.pdf; Isle au Haut Boat Services, isleauhaut.com, 367-6516 or 357-5193

MORE CAMPGROUNDS ON MDI

BAR HARBOR/OCEANSIDE KOA: koa.com/campgrounds/bar-harbor-oceanside, 288-3520

MOUNT DESERT NARROWS CAMPING RESORT: rvonthego.com/maine/mt-desert-narrows-camping-resort, 877-570-2267

BAR HARBOR/WOODLANDS KOA: koa.com/campgrounds/bar-harbor-woodlands, 288-5139

BAR HARBOR CAMPGROUND: thebarharborcampground.com, 288-5185

SOMES SOUND VIEW CAMPGROUND: ssvc.info, 244-3890

BASS HARBOR CAMPGROUND: bassharbor.com, 244-5857

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