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Pristine gems in a rugged landscape setting, the nearly 30 lakes in Acadia National Park never fail to sparkle. Located in Maine's Downeast and Acadia region, the lakes fill valleys and hollows gouged by glaciers long past. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries classifies these lakes as 'great ponds.' Lakes over 100 acres include: Long Pond-897 acres; Eagle Lake-466 acres; Seal Cove Lake-283 acres; Echo Lake-237 acres; Jordan Pond-187 acres; and Somes Pond-104 acres.
Lakes under 100 acres include: Long Pond/Turners Pond on Isle au Haut-79 acres; Hamilton Pond-51 acres; Lower Hadlock Pond-39 acres; Little Long Pond-38 acres; Round Pond-38 acres; Hogdon Pond-35 acres; Upper Hadlock Pond-35 acres; Aunt Betty Pond-34 acres; Bubble Pond-32 acres; Witch Hole Pond-28 acres; and Lake Wood-16 acres. Another dozen small ponds scattered throughout the landscape are well-loved local fishing holes. With 35,000 acres designated as national park, several of the lakes are entirely without human habitation.
Echo Lake's main draw is the popular sandy swimming beach with scenic views. All of the lakes except Long Pond have boat motor and horsepower restrictions. Most of the smallest ponds prohibit motors completely.
10 horsepower limit: Eagle Lake, Upper and Lower Hadlock Lakes, Hagdon Pond and Jordan Pond.
Electric motors only: Witch Pond, Lake Wood, Round Pond, Bubble Pond and Aunty Betty Pond.
Boat launch facilities: Bubble Pond, Eagle Lake, Echo Lake, Upper and Lower Hadlock Lake, Long Pond, Jordan Pond and Seal Cove Pond. Several of these lakes prohibit any type of body contact with the water because they are used as village water supply.
Lakes with private property along the shoreline often see small sailboats gliding by. Several canoe and kayak rentals are located on and near the lakes with at least one on 897-acre Long Pond operated by the National Park Service. The uninhabited stretches of shoreline are a fine place to view wildlife, including bald eagles and ospreys.
Little Isle au Haut holds its own Long Lake. Sometimes called Turners Pond, the 73-acre lake has no boat ramp. There are no motor restrictions on the smaller Long Lake here-but there is only a footpath to access the lake. To reach Isle au Haut, one must hitch a ride on the Mail Boat. The island does hold a small campground but there is no information available on accommodations or on what fish are found in the lake. Further details can be obtained at the ranger stations on Mount Desert.
Fishing is usually the main drawing card to the lakes. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries has stocked many of the lakes with the game fish best suited to the particular lake. Landlocked salmon and brook trout can be caught in Echo Lake and Somes Pond, while Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake offer lake trout, brown trout and brook trout. Brown trout, brook trout and white perch can be caught in both Upper and Lower Hadlock Lake, while Hodgdom Pond holds smallmouth bass, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel and redbreast sunfish. 897-acre Long Pond has all of the above with the exception of lake trout. It is best to consult local sources before planning a major fishing trip to any of these lakes, because stocking schedules change regularly based on which species seem to be growing the best. In winter, ice fishing is available on many of the lakes. A Maine fishing license is required, and there are usually special regulations on at least some of the lakes.
A few of the lakes were dammed in their early history to provide power for mills, but all are considered natural lakes. And nature is the major attraction in Acadia National Park. Nearly all visitors to the well-known resort town of Bar Harbor make a point of driving the 27-mile Park Loop Road. The Loop winds along the Atlantic seashore, skirting mountains such as 1,528-foot Cadillac Mountain, past lakes, through wooded areas and overlooking the many ponds. The mostly one-way Loop has convenient pull-offs for viewing scenic spots, making it easy to see why early wealthy industrialists decided Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island were great vacation places. John D. Rockefeller built the nearly 50 miles of crushed stone-paved Carriage Roads. Carriage rides are still available on the roads, but other forms of non-motorized travel are also popular: bicycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and hiking are comfortably accommodated under the leafy canopy with glimpses of the great ponds caught through the trees.
Over 120 miles of hiking trails are available surrounding the Lakes of Acadia National Park. Trails vary in difficulty from paths suitable for families with young children to serious rock-climbing and major inclines. One of the most popular is the one-mile trail up to Bubble Rock, which is a roundish boulder perched precariously at the edge of a steep slope. Despite its temporary look, the rock has remained in place for about 14,000 years. Another modest trail is the Goat Trail up Norumbega Mountain. Trails lead to the pink granite faces of Great Head, Gorham Mountain and Otter Cliff. Ranger stations and visitor centers have trail information, interpretive lectures and guided walks at several locations. One side trip no one should miss is to Sieur de Monts Spring with its attendant Nature Center, Native American museum and nearby Wild Gardens.
The history of Acadia National Park and the lakes within it are an interesting look back at how early summer residents worked to protect the environment. By the late 1800s, Mount Desert had been 'discovered' by the rich and famous who, anxious to be deemed naturists and calling themselves Rusticators, built cottages, some of which contained over 100 rooms! In addition to financing and overseeing the building of the carriage roads with their stone-faced bridges, John D. Rockefeller Jr. also paid careful attention to natural landscape features and native plantings. Later, he funded much of the Civilian Conservation Corps' work in order to provide wages and improve access for visitors. He was instrumental in having the larger part of the island designated a national park.
The new park was first named Sieur de Monts National Monument, then changed to Lafayette National Park when Congress designated a national park system. Renamed again in 1929 as Acadia National Park, the protected landscape now encloses about 35,000 acres including much of Mount Desert Island, Isle au Haut and several portions of other islands and mainland under the control of the National Park Service. Mount Desert Island holds several villages, with Bar Harbor the largest and best known. The smaller villages are working villages where lobstermen still mend their traps on narrow streets fronted by white clapboard houses. The villages offer a picturesque vision of what Maine's ocean-going ports once looked like.
Geared for tourism, Bar Harbor offers every possible type of lodging. The historic town holds many bed & breakfasts located in restored mansions, inns, resort spas and guest motels with views of the ocean. Several campgrounds are located near town. Public campgrounds are located throughout the Park with other commercial campgrounds located on private land at its margins. A number of private property owners rent homes, cottages and guest stays near the Park entrances. A few historic buildings within the park are still operating as restaurants, guest lodgings and shops. Yachting facilities are located on the bay fronting Bar Harbor. Sea kayaking, whale watching. lighthouse tours and deep sea fishing trips can be arranged. Mount Desert and the Lakes of Acadia National Park are one of the best ways to visit the many faces of Maine and its lakes.
*Statistics listed are Long Pond on Mount Desert Island only.
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