Activities For Dogs In Acadia National Park

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Introduction

When it comes to dog-friendly National Parks, Maine's Acadia National Park certainly ranks high on the list. It does still have restricted areas to pets just like any other, but this gorgeous island park on the state's southeastern coast offers plenty for dogs and their owners to enjoy throughout the year. If it wasn't enough that it happens to be the oldest park east of the Mississippi River, it's also jam-packed with gorgeous views from the rocky coastal sprawls that surround it to the heart of its forested interior. Whether you're looking to get some exercise or just take in some breathtaking views, it's one of the best places around to explore with your canine companion.

Be a Bark Ranger

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0 Votes
Any Day
Cheap
Easy
45 - 180 min
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Activity description
While most parks offer much of the same in terms of activities, Acadia National Park steps it up a notch by rewarding responsible owners and dogs with their Bark Ranger program. The short pamphlet of information is issued by park rangers and not only outlines responsible behavior within the park but explains why the rules are important to the integrity of its natural features and wildlife. It also provides a short list of activities to complete and although it is only required to do one, we suggest all three because, well, why not? In the end, once you and your dog have proven your mettle, you can report back and get yourselves a special Bark Ranger collar tag to boot!
Step
1
Bark the park
This may be common sense, but you have to get in the park before you participate, so do that first. If you plan to visit more than once a year, skip the $30 single-visit fee and opt for the $55 annual pass, it's well worth it. Once you get inside, you'll need to stop by the Sieur de Monts Nature Center or the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to pick up the pamphlet and checklist and speak to the rangers about how to complete the program entirely. Give it a good read over, as there is plenty of good information on the B.A.R.K. guidelines as well as directions on where to find further information about the park.
Step
2
Pick and plan your activities
On the Bark Ranger pamphlet, there is a list of three activities you can complete to obtain your collar tag. We recommend all three because that's all the more for you two to do! The three options are: Hike on a park trail, explore on a carriage road and stroll along the water. Each one addresses various features of the park, so you should do your best to enjoy them all. All you need is to ask a park ranger about good spots to go (let them know what you'd like to see for better direction) or just use a smartphone to look at the park's website, which lists all three types of dog-friendly locations. Pick one of each and hit the ground running. For longer visits, spread out the locations so you can not only see more, but get your bearings better. For shorter visits, keep them all close by so you can transition from one to another with ease and efficiency.
Step
3
Grab your tag
Once you've completed your activities, check back with a park ranger to make sure you didn't miss any steps or information, then they'll give you a signature approval and direct you towards locations where you can pick up your tag at the Eastern National Bookstore at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
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Hit the Town

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Easy
1 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Activity description
While most people who visit National Parks are in it for the natural beauty, some also like to take in the social and cultural elements as well and for those people, Acadia is also top notch. Although not immersed in the forests, the town of Bar Harbor is surrounded by the park itself and offers plenty of fun little dog-friendly shops to explore, restaurants with dog-friendly patios and much more. It can really be done in all types of weather, but warmer and sunnier days are the best for patio lounging and walking around town. The price depends on how much you happen to buy, but the process is certainly easy regardless of what you choose.
Step
1
Around town
For such a small town, Bar Harbor offers a massive amount of places to eat, let alone shop. There are at least 20 different dog-friendly restaurants with spaces to eat and many of the stores, hotels and services are dog-friendly as well. Do yourselves a favor and pick two restaurants to try (just try not to eat too much at one and be full for the other!) for some true East Coast fare, then walk it off with your pup by your side by checking out some of the local shops, as well as the town's nearby parks. Give your pal some time to explore the scents and sights of the parks.
Step
2
Jordan Pond
For those who are looking to get into nature but still enjoy the spoils of civilization, consider checking out the Jordon Pond House. It offers fantastic food, a patio to eat on that's enveloped in natural beauty and even links to several dog-friendly trails that meander around the water for when you two need to walk off your lunch. Keep your dog with you at all times while on these trails and be sure to leave the site as pristine as you found it.
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Acadia Three Ways

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Easy
1 - 5 hrs
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Activity description
Unlike many other National Parks whose restrictions often keep dogs and their owners from truly enjoying all a place has to offer, Acadia's offerings are all-encompassing, including their modes of transportation. Dogs can walk both trails and carriage roads, ride in cars, trolleys, carriages, buses and even take a cruise. Each one offers its own benefits, so seeing the park three different ways will give both you and your dog more entertainment and a greater appreciation for the park itself (let alone its exceptionally dog-friendly ways!). Do yourselves a favor and try all three (although there are really more like six if you count the different vehicles as well). Most methods are cheap to moderate in expense, easy to do and although they're best on sunny days, can really be done most times of the year (barring heavy precipitation or harsh weather).
Step
1
By wheel
For those who want to start exploring by getting their bearings, a windows-down drive through the park is a great place to start. Make sure your dog is safe and secure and allow them a bit of fresh air with the window down just a bit on their side. While it's only about 27 miles of roads to get around the park, it generally takes most visitors at least a couple hours to truly see the initial sights and get their bearings. For those who prefer some additional guidance, the Island Explorer bus line is both free and dog-friendly and shuttles visitors between various points of interests all over the island. For those who really just want to take in the natural beauty in a quieter and more peaceful way, you can even have your dog join you on a carriage ride pulled by another type of four-legged friend.
Step
2
By paw
While there is certainly a lot to see from the park's main roads, you'll likely be amazed to find out that the small island offers over 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails as well as 45 miles of dog-friendly carriage roads, all of which meander through different parts of the park. On top of all that, it even offers a little doggy haven. Just south of the island's eastern half the border of the park stops and the space around Little Long Lake begins. While it may not sound exciting by name, this chunk of land donated by the Rockefeller family happens to be a 1,000 acre park and best of all, it's off-leash! There are tons of trails and more carriage roads to explore and best yet, since Little Long Pond isn't a fresh water source for the nearby cities, your dog can go for a swim!
Step
3
By boat
If it wasn't enough that your dog can ride in a horse carriage, there are at least three different companies that offer dog-friendly cruises. Each one has a bit of its own flavor, so you'll want to do research beforehand or even ask a local, but in all, you'll get a relaxing cruise, possibly even some food or drink and some background information about one of the East Coast's best-kept secrets, all for a pretty marginal cost considering the return.
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More Fun Ideas...

Relax at the Bar Harbor Head Lighthouse

If you want to escape the crowds of the Bar Harbor but still want to grab some authentic East Coast grub you can enjoy with your dog on the patio, head over to the Bar Harbor Head Lighthouse, which is on the southwestern tip of the island, as well as Seafood Ketch nearby.

Check out the Blues Brothers

Just north of Southwest Harbor is a statue of the Blues Brothers outside of a water bottling plant, which certainly makes for some interesting pictures, to say the least.

Conclusion

If this guide isn't example enough, just one visit to Acadia National Park will have you recognizing just how far above the rest of many other parks it truly is. With entertainment, sights, smells, tastes and even transportation of all types, almost all of which are dog-friendly, Acadia makes itself one of the best National Park destinations in the the country.