Northeast Harbor, Maine
Over the years, Northeast Harbor, Maine, has become famous as much for its summertime residents as it has for its beautiful and protected harbor full of exclusive yachts and sailing vessels. You may be surprised to hear that it is actually not an official township by itself but rather part of the municipality of Mount Desert which covers 25,699 acres and has an approximate population of 2,053 (per the year 2010 census). It is located on the southern end of Mount Desert Island on the western side of the entrance to Somes Sound, which used to be designated as a fjord but now is more correctly called a fjard. Park land is close by for easy access.
Village GPS: Latitude 44.294615, Longitude -68.289476
This part of Mount Desert Island (MDI) is often referred to as the “quiet side” for its slower and more relaxed pace when compared to the better known Bar Harbor. The town has a feeling of understated “class” in a Maine coastal way. There are several small and attractive boutiques, some great galleries, and great places to eat including a very good bakery right on the Main Street (one of my guilty pleasures). Park the car and walk around for a while. Check out a few of the various downtown businesses. The harbor with all the yachts is only about two blocks off Main Street. Look for Sea Street on the eastern side.
Places to Visit
Of particular note, and places that you should consider visiting, are the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Gardens. Prime time for visiting Asticou is mid-May through mid-June when the spring bloom is spectacular but most anytime will do. This is a lovely Japanese inspired oasis perfect for sitting in quiet reflection or for sharing with a loved one. The enchanted Thuya Garden is close by and features sculpted shrubbery and perennial borders. Both gardens have an exceptionally beautiful presentation and ambiance.
Asticou Azalea Garden: Latitude 44.305219, Longitude -68.283629
Thuya Garden Directions
There are basically two ways to get to Thuya Garden. One, for the more agile, is via a path that leads up the front of the granite cliffs (Asticou Terraces) that provides panoramic views of the yachts in the harbor. Parking is provided across the street. The other is by driving up. If you can make the walk, I suggest the path as it is exceptionally well done. Once there, you will be surprised at how many beautiful flowering plants are in bloom during season and pleased with the elegant design and peacefulness of the garden and walking areas. As with the Asticou Azalea Garden, there are wonderful spots for sitting. Both the Asticou and Thuya are great examples of the magic of Acadia on Mount Desert Island.
Thuya Garden: Latitude 44.295322, Longitude -68.274692
Upper Hadlock Pond
On the northern side of Northeast Harbor on the eastern side of Routes 3 and 198 is Upper Hadlock Pond. This is a beautiful little body of water within Acadia National Park that is next to Bald Peak (974 feet high or about 297 meters). Look for a small pull-off place at the southern end of the pond. There is a hiking trail there that continues along the southeastern side of the pond and intersects with a Carriage Road to the North. On the northern side of the pond there is a larger parking area near an intersection of some trails and an access point to the Carriage Road..
Southern Pull-off: Latitude 44.318360, Longitude -68.287979
Hiking Path on North side: Latitude 44.325802, Longitude -68.291238
- Mount Desert Municipal Office:
21 Sea Street
P.O. Box 248
Northeast Harbor, ME 04662
- GPS: Latitude 44.294432, Longitude -68.287875
Much to Offer Visitors
Let there be no mistake about it. This is a long standing wealthy community. A large number of homes are worth over one million. Many are worth several million dollars, or multi-millions. But this wealth is not rubbed in anyone’s nose. This is a well adjusted and peaceful coastal community that has a lot to offer to visitors. There are some stunningly beautiful landscaped gardens and terraces here that the majority of park visitors never heard of or ever seen. If you like this sort of thing, I strongly suggest that you set aside at least a half a day or longer to get acquainted. If you like seeing and photographing yachts, then this is a great place for it as well. The naturally protected harbor makes for calmer waters than usual.