Mount Deserted Island

Acadia in Springtime
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"The secret to Acadia in the off-season is layering clothes," says ranger Betty Lyle, her voice echoing off the high ceilings of this lonely room. "That, and a sturdy waterproof pair of hiking boots." I was standing in the center of Acadia National Park's Visitor Center discussing the basic gear necessary to tackle Acadia's 170 miles of hiking trails in mid-April. Yet, my mind was drifting, thinking about the last time I was at New England's lone national park. It was early August and the Visitor Center looked like New York's Grand Central Station in rush hour. I could barely squeeze onto the floor and once I did, I waited almost an hour to talk to a ranger. Now I had Betty Lyle's utmost attention for as long as I wanted. There was no one else in the room besides us.

Several layers of warm clothes and a good pair of hiking boots seem like a small price to pay to avoid the crowds, traffic jams, and swarms of black flies and mosquitoes in the summer. And, contrary to popular notion, Maine does not hibernate until mid-June. Locals savor the spring, the time of year when they can reclaim their turf until the caravan of campers arrive. Follow their cue into Acadia's piney interior and you'll soon be breathing in the clean, crisp air—a potent blend of fragrant balsams, the mossy odor of ferns, and the salty scent of the ocean, which is never far from view.

About the Author: In 1995, Steve Jermanok put more than 20,000 miles on his car writing Outside magazine's Adventure Guide to New England. Since then, he's continued to write about the outdoors in New England and elsewhere for Outside, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Outdoor Explorer, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications; he's also co-authored Lonely Planet New England.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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