TRIP DESCRIPTIONS and DIRECTIONS


 

Festival Center
(Located at Somesville Fire Station and Acadia Repertory Theater)

Festival Center consists of two locations, across the street from each other.  One is the Fire Station Community Room, where registration takes place, and lunches will be served.  Directly across the street is the Acadia Repertory Theater where evening presentations, talks/workshops, and other activities take place.  Parking may become crowded at times, and some cars may need to be parked on the street.  Try to carpool.

Directions from Ellsworth:  14.5 miles, 23 minutes

Head southeast on ROUTE 3/High St for 9.4 miles.  After crossing onto Mount Desert Island, stay straight on Route 102/ROUTE 198/Main St, when ROUTE 3 curves to the left.  Follow ROUTE 102 for 5.1 miles, through Somesville (note 25 MPH speed zone!), to destination - Fire Station on your right, and the Acadia Repertory Theater on your left.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  8.0 miles, 13 minutes

Head west on ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd for approximately 6.0 miles.  Turn right at ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3/Sound Drive and drive 1.4 miles.  Turn left at traffic light, onto ROUTE 102/Main St.  Follow for 0.8 miles, through Somesville (note 25 MPH speed zone!), to destination - Fire Station on your right, and the Acadia Repertory Theater on your left.

 

PRE and POST FESTIVAL TRIPS

 

PRE-FESTIVAL - Saddleback Mountain - Bicknell's Thrush
5+ miles (round trip) of difficult walking up and down steep ski slopes (no switchback path) with 2000 ft elevation gain, some places with rocks and roots, only for those in good physical walking shape (walking sticks helpful).
(Meet McDonald's in Waterville at I-95 exit 127 at 6am - This is an hour 45 minute drive from Festival Center, so we recommend you stay in Waterville the night before)
This is a full day trip to Saddleback Mountain, leaving from McDonald's Waterville, ME (not Festival Center). It is best to plan on staying in Waterville the night before.  There are three motels near the McDonald's in Waterville (Econo Lodge, Hampton Inn Waterville, and Budget Host Airport Inn). Bicknell’s Thrush unique breeding ecology above 3000 feet requires a steady climb to the barren bald peaks of Saddleback Mountain tucked away in the western mountains of Maine. Note that the trip leaders do their best to locate this special thrush, and generally find one or more, but no guarantees. Many northern specialty birds will be found among the rocky summit heaths and boreal krummholz ecosystems of the Rangeley Lakes region, offering opportunities for a variety of hard to find boreal species like Gray Jays, Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker. We will study bird communication and ecology of the spruce and fir forest and dwarf shrub summits where Nashville and Blackpoll Warblers, Swainson’s Thrush and Blue-headed Vireo are calling from the spruce zone.  On the return trip, we can make a few stops for Black Terns and Purple Martin around the Belgrade Lakes. A busy but rewarding day.  We will travel by van for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to reach the Saddleback Mt from Waterville.  Participants should bring snacks, lunch, beverages, bug repellent and sunscreen. Dress in layers as it could be cold.  The trip starts and ends at McDonald's in Waterville (approximately 1 hour 45 minutes from Festival Center).

 

POST-FESTIVAL - Downeast BIG DAY - Coastal
Several easy walks in numerous locations.
(Meet at Machias River Inn at 6am - Note that Machias is a 1.5 hour drive from Festival Center)
This one-day tour is a 14 hour birding blitz along the northern coast of Maine, designed to be flexible for those who are making festival plans. We'll meet at the Machias River Inn at 6am, pass by it again at 4pm (for those who need to leave early), and end the day there at 8pm. Participants may spend the night before (and/or after the trip) in Machias, or travel up the coast from Acadia to meet the group early that morning. We'll travel by 15-passenger van to all the secret hot spots in this vicinity, searching for Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, and up to 100 other species in just one day! The coast above Acadia National Park in downeast Maine becomes more boreal, increasing the chances of rare northern forest species. This is also an area of extensive tidal mudflats and salt marshes where we will look for shorebirds and Nelson's Sparrows. The scenery is often as spectacular as Acadia National Park, but with fewer visitors. This daytrip will require slow walking on level roads through good habitat. Depending on recent weather, there may be some spots that are muddy. Water resistant footwear is advised.  Participants should bring lunch, snacks, and beverages. There will also be multiple opportunities to stop for food and refreshments at local convenience stores.  Participants interested in staying at the Machias River Inn may make their own reservations directly with the inn at 207-255-4861. Other accommodations are nearby.  Trip starts and ends at Machias River Inn.

POST-FESTIVAL - BOREAL BIG DAY - Burn Rd
Several easy walks in numerous locations.
(Meet at Machias River Inn at 6am - Note that Machias is a 1.5 hour drive from Festival Center)

Boreal Chickadees, Spruce Grouse, Gray Jays, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and Olive-sided Flycatchers – is there one single place that has them all? Yes, we’re going to the Burn Road. Although this one special road is over a hundred miles away from Mount Desert Island, it’s worth the ride. Expect lots of warblers and other northern songbirds, too. This one-day tour is a 14 hour birding blitz in northern inland Maine. We'll meet at Machias River Inn at 6am and end the day at the Inn at 8pm.  Participants may spend the night before (and/or after the trip) in Machias, or travel up the coast from Acadia to meet the group early that morning. This daytrip will require slow walking on level roads through good habitat. Depending on recent weather, there may be some spots that are muddy. Water resistant footwear is advised. Participants should bring lunch, snacks, and beverages. There will also be multiple opportunities to stop for food and refreshments at local convenience stores.  Participants interested in staying at the Machias River Inn may make their own reservations directly with the inn at 207-255-4861. Other accommodations are nearby.  Trip starts and ends at Machias River Inn.

 

REGULAR FESTIVAL TRIPS

 

Asticou Azalea and Thuya Gardens 
0.5 miles, easy walking.  Can drive or walk up stairs to Thuya Gardens.

(Meet at the parking lot of Asticou Azalea Garden)

The Asticou Azalea Garden, created by Boston landscape architect Joseph Henry Curtis, provides a unique variety of habitats for Neotropical migrants. The watersheds flowing through the Gardens make it one of the most beautiful formal gardens in the region, and its position at the mouth of Northeast Harbor places it directly in the path of a variety of migrating and nesting birds. Modeled after a classic Japanese garden, the Garden explodes each spring in every shade of pink, coral, crimson and peach. The Azalea Garden has been visited by 17 species of Wood Warblers including Blackburnian, Wilson's, Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Black-throated Green and Yellow-rumped Warblers. American Redstart is a yearly highlight, displaying and calling throughout the early summer. Pine Siskin, Cedar Waxwing, and both White-winged and Red Crossbills may be found in Asticou, or along the ridgeline conifer forests of nearby Thuya Garden. The “Asticou Stream Trail” can produce Gray Catbird, Osprey, Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher. With luck, other notable Neotropical migrants are the stunning Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Directions from Festival Center:  6.3 miles, 10 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St for 0.8 miles.  At the traffic light, turn right onto ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3.  Drive 5.5 miles toward Northeast Harbor to ASTICOU GARDENS entrance on left.  NOTE MILEAGE as the signage at entrance is not obvious!  If you come to the intersection of US-3 (on your left) you have gone too far.  To drive to THUYA GARDENS, continue past Asticou Gardens and turn left on US-3 to Seal Harbor.  In 0.4 miles, look for a parking area on right side of road.  To reach the Gardens, cross over road and take the stone steps up the hill through the woods.
Directions from Bar Harbor:  10.2 miles, 16 minutes

Head west on ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd for approximately 6.0 miles.  Turn left at ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3/Sound Drive and drive 4.2 miles to Asticou Gardens on your left. 

 

Beech Mountain
2 miles walking, moderate to difficult.
(Meet at the Beech Mountain parking lot at the end of Beech Hill Rd.)
Stroll out to Beech Cliff with spectacular views over Echo Lake. Watch for the nesting Peregine Falcon soaring near the cliffs. This two mile loop continues along the cliff then turns back toward Beech Mountain where Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher can be heard singing. Ruffed Grouse also frequent these woods. In addition to the common warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers are often seen in the area.
Directions from Festival Center: 3.5 miles, 10 minutes

Head WEST onto ROUTE 102/Pretty Marsh Rd (not south). In 0.3 miles, turn left onto Beech Hill Rd.  At all intersections, stay on Beech Hill Rd until you reach the end in about 3.2 miles.
Directions from Bar Harbor:  11.5 miles, 23 minutes
Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Birding and Botany

1+ miles of easy to moderate terrain.
(Meet at the entrance to the Pretty Marsh picnic area)

This trip is led by Tom and Susan Hayward, blending Tom's birding extertise with Susan's extensive knowledge of botany. Susan is a founder and volunteer faculty member for Maine Master Naturalist Program. She is an amateur botanist who has done field research on rare orchids, and taught courses on the flora of Maine for many years. Tom has been birding on MDI off and on since he was about 10 years old, and has been active in the Stanton Bird Club of Lewiston since 1977, leading many field trips for them over the years. The group will explore the Pretty Marsh picnic area which is surrounded by a maturing Red Spruce Forest hosting Blackburnian Warblers, Northern Parula, White-winged Crossbill, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-headed Vireo, and Hermit Thrush. And, of course, lots of Maine plants Susan can identified!

Directions from Festival Center:  4.0 miles, 7 minutes

Head WEST onto ROUTE 102/Pretty Marsh Rd (not south). In 3.5 miles, DO NOT TURN RIGHT towards Pretty Marsh.  Stay on ROUTE 102 for 0.5 more miles, then turn right into the Pretty Marsh picnic area, and park immediately to the left in designated area.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  12.0 miles, 20 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Birding Hotspots on MDI (East)
(VAN TRIP - Meet at Festival Center)

This van trip will take you to multiple birding areas on the eastern lobe of Mount Desert Island. Exact locations will be decided by the guides, and by what birds are being seen. Possible stops include ocean viewing for White-winged, Black and Surf Scoters, Common Eiders, Black Guillemots, Common Loons, Long-tailed Ducks, and hopefully some Northern Gannets as they exhibit their plunge diving into the ocean.  On land we always keep an eye out for White-winged Crossbills, warblers, and woodpeckers as they forage in the spruce/fir conifer edge.  A visit to wetland and forest birds can provide viewings of Blackburnian Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatch in the emerging old growth Red Spruce forest where nests are found in the 110 foot canopy.  Another popular stop is behind MDI High School where several ponds and nearby woods can host some ducks, swallows, woodpeckers, flycatchers, warblers, and much more. Be it land or sea, we’ll find plenty of good habitat and birds!

 

Birding Hotspots on MDI (West)
(VAN TRIP - Meet at Festival Center)

This trip focuses on the Western side of Mount Desert Island, traveling to a variety of bird habitats. Exact locations will be decided by the guides, and by what birds are being seen. Some stops might include wilderness areas and special habitats with hopes of finding less common birds, such as Nelson’s Sparrow, Pine Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Winter Wren, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Swainson’s Thrush. There will also be plenty of opportunity to listen and look for our many common warblers, including Northern Parula, American Redstart, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, and Black-throated Green Warblers, and of course our flycatchers, woodpeckers, and kinglets too. It’s a great way to get out and see some off-the-beaten-track areas you might not otherwise see, and hopefully add some new birds to your list.

 

Blagden Preserve
2 miles of easy terrain walking, with 150 ft descent to coast and back.
(Meet in parking lot just off Indian Point Road at Preserve entrance)

An excellent example of a maturing Red Spruce forest, the Indian Point Blagden Preserve escaped the ravages of the devastating 1947 fire, thus maintaining its original character. We'll walk down a private paved road which offers open views to help us look for the much sought Blackburnian and Magnolia Warblers along with Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Black and White, Pine, Yellow-rumped, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, and Ovenbird. Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos are at home here as are Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Great-crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood Pewee have been heard, or seen, with occasional sightings of Purple Finch, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Cedar Waxwings. There is a parallel path option, that is rocky and rooty, deep in the woods for those wanting more adventure. The trails converge near the shore where we pause for a rest and brief sea-watch, looking for Common and Red-throated Loon, Bald Eagle, Osprey, cormorants, scoters, gulls, and terns.

Directions from Festival Center:  2.9 miles, 8 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102 for 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Oak Hill Road (at the bottom of the hill in Somesville).  In 1.4 miles bear right past Whitney Farm Road on your left.  Continue on Oak Hill Road for another mile to the T intersection. Turn left onto Indian Point Road.  In 0.2 miles, the entrance to Blagden Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) will be on your right.  Enter, then park immediately to your left.
Directions from Bar Harbor:  10.3 miles, 19 minutes

Head west on ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd for approximately 6.0 miles.  Turn right at ROUTE 198 N/ROUTE 3/Sound Drive and drive 1.4 miles.  Turn left at traffic light, onto ROUTE 102/Main St.  Follow for 0.5 miles, then turn right onto Oak Hill Road.  In 1.4 miles bear right past Whitney Farm Road on your left.  Continue on Oak Hill Road for another mile to the T intersection. Turn left onto Indian Point Road.  In 0.2 miles, the entrance to Blagden Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) will be on your right.  Enter, then park immediately to your left.

 

Boreal Van Trip Downeast
Several easy walks in numerous locations.
(Meet at Festival Center)
Dense spruce/fir boreal micro-habitats of Maine’s Bold Coast provide unusual access to species generally found much further north. Boreal specialist, ABF birding guide and trip leader Bob Duchesne, is highly skilled at finding one of our most sought after Boreal species, the elusive Spruce Grouse, with a high success ratio of delivering the grouse to festival guests. Spruce Grouse share the same habitat as the equally coveted Boreal Chickadee and Gray Jay. Warbler migration will be in full swing with excellent chances for the uncommon Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers, plus Magnolia, Nashville and many other expected spring migrants. Although extremely rare, Black-backed Woodpecker are occasionally found. Walks in boggy wetlands may provide opportunities for Olive-sided, Yellow-bellied, Alder Flycatchers, as well as Eastern Wood Pewee. Spruce cone specialists, Pine Siskin and Crossbills are sometimes encountered. If time allows, we’ll hit Downeast’s famous Blueberry Barrens where Upland Sandpiper, Savannah Sparrow, and rarely, Whimbrel, are found. Many other species are encountered along the way, with robust lists a testament to success on previous trips. A birding by ear expert, trip leader Bob Duchesne, will vector in on specific species providing a live birding-by-ear tutorial. Lunch and beverage may be purchased on the way, or bring your own. Binos, long sleeved shirts, hats, sunscreen, and bug spray are recommended. Scope and bird guides will be available to all.

Canoe and Bird - Bass Harbor Marsh

Approx. 2 miles of canoeing.

(Meet at the bridge near Tremont School)

The unique ABF canoe trip is an opportunity to venture into a coastal plateau bog and salt marsh ecosystem where we hope to find Nelson’s Sparrows, Alder Flycatcher, Savannah Sparrow, Marsh Wren, ducks, warblers, and a beautiful view of the Western Mountains. This amazing paddle on a rising tide takes you through forested wetlands, bogs, and maturing conifer forests, all undisturbed habitat teaming with avian wonders. Both Osprey and Belted Kingfisher can be seen fishing. Greater Yellowlegs, American Black Duck, corvids, the sweet sound of Hermit Thrush, and Maine’s iconic Common Loon can be found as we paddle along. Life vests, paddles and canoes are provided. Bring water and food.

Directions from Festival Center:  8.1 miles, 13 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St through Southwest Harbor and toward Bass Harbor for about 7.8 miles.  At the corner gas station, be sure to curve to the right, then continue 0.25 miles to the Tremont School on your right, after you pass over the Bass Harbor Marsh bridge.  Please PARK AT THE TREMONT SCHOOL.  We will enter the marsh on the southeastern side of the tidal stream. 

Directions from Bar Harbor:  16.1 miles, 26 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Canoe and Bird - Northeast Creek
Approx. 2 miles of canoeing.

(Meet on Rt. 3 at bridge over creek)

The Northeast Creek estuary dates back to the melting Wisconsian Glacier 13,000 years ago and is the largest freshwater outflow off the Mount Desert Range flowing north. Known locally as “Fresh Meadow” or “King’s Creek”, this tidal bog ecosystem has raised portions and tidal creeks which can be explored at your leisure while paddling these quiet waters. This trip will allow you an opportunity to become familiar with a variety of calls such as Common Yellow-throat and Black-throated Green Warblers, and Alder and Least Flycatchers. There is extensive edge habitat throughout the three mile paddle with diverse wetlands offering possible opportunities to observe the difficult-to-find American Bittern, Spotted Sandpipers, and Swamp and Song Sparrows. Northern Harriers sometimes nest in the upper reaches and can be occasioanlly seen gliding over the sedge marsh meadow seeking tidal mammals. Freshwater and tidal waterfowl utilize the variety of salinities found in this watershed, including Red-breasted Merganser, American Black Duck, and Mallards. Great Blue Heron, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and Belted Kingfisher all search for feasts of fish and small invertebrates in the creek. Bald Eagles have nested at the mouth of this great estuary which provides a year round source of prey. Life vests, paddles and canoes are provided. Bring water and snacks.

Directions from Festival Center:  5.0 miles, 10 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St.  Continue for 2.9 miles, then bear right onto Knox Road at the Town Hill Market.  In 1.5 miles, turn right onto ROUTE 3/Bar Harbor Road.   In 0.4 miles, cross over Northeast Creek, and park on side of road.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  8.0 miles, 12 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 3/Eden St for 8.0 miles.  Park on left side just before you reach the Northeast Creek bridge.

Clark Point Road
0.5 miles of easy walking

(VAN TRIP - Meet at Festival Center)

Clark Point Road is a little gem. The walking is easy and there are a variety of habitats ranging from open field, to hardwood forest, mixed growth, and conifers. The road creates edge habitat that offers great views of Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Yellow, Northern Parula Warblers alongside Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart, and we often hear the drumming of Ruffed Grouse. Pileated, Hairy, and Downy woodpeckers all grace the woods. Successional alder thickets yield Alder Flycatchers and the open fields along the road offer Bluebirds, and Song Sparrows. We will walk through private property with Red-eyed Vireos, Blue-headed Vireos, Purple Finches, Hermit Thrushes, Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows and Winter Wrens to access a secluded beach on the shore of Goose Cove where we may see Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, Double Crested Cormorants, Scoters, Osprey, and potentially the daily visit of the Bald Eagle.

 

Fish Ladders in Somesville
(Meet at Festival Center)

We will start out walking from Festival Center down the main street of Somesville, the first town settled on MDI (in 1761) and listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. We will watch the action around the Somes Mill Pond, site of the original saw mill on the island, now a real wildlife spectacle during the annual alewife (river herring) migration. The approximately ten inch long fish return each year to the head of Somes Sound on their way to spawn in Somes and Long Ponds. This migration and spawning effort is a real conservation success story with numbers rising from a few hundred returning alewife in 2005 to tens of thousands in more recent years thanks to restoration work on the fish passage ways coordinated by Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary and many partners. This migration attracts all kinds of predators including bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, gulls, and seals engaged in the process of trying to grab at least one of the fish. This spring we are expecting a large cohort of alewife to make the journey back so it will be fun to see what happens! Eagles try to rob from osprey, harbor seals occasionally strafe the school of fish gathering at the base of the fish ladder at higher tides, and mergansers and cormorants try to dive for them in the mill pond. Great photo opportunities abound! From the mill pond we'll walk upstream into a beautiful cemetery with many large trees and a nice forested edge adjacent to the outflow of Somes Pond. We should find numerous warblers, vireos, and other songbirds along our route.

 

Frenchboro Preserve on Long Island
5+ miles of easy to moderate trails. Be prepared to do lots of hiking.
(Meet at Ferry Dock in Bass Harbor)

This exciting island trip starts at 7:45am at the Bass Harbor ferry dock where you will board the 8:00am ferry for Frenchboro on Long Island.  The 45 min ride will give us a chance to search the waters of Blue Hill Bay for Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, Osprey, Bald Eagles and marine mammals. Once on the island the group will bird watch their way through the village of Frenchboro itself and then along miles of trails through the diverse habitats of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust Frenchboro preserve. The day promises to be filled with over 50 species of birds as we search the island’s maritime forests, riparian and wetland areas, ponds, shoreline and bold coastal cliffs and rocky headlands. In addition, the island offers great views of Mount Desert Island, its off-shore islands and the open ocean. There will also be plenty of time for exploration of the village around Lunt Harbor, with its history museum and other attractions.  Price includes a lobster roll lunch, made by locals.  Please bring your own snacks and water.  The ferry leaves Frenchboro at 2:00pm arriving back in Bass Harbor at 2:45pm.  Your leader, Terry Towne, is the Maine Coast Heritage Trust Regional Steward for the Frenchboro preserve, has an intimate knowledge of the island, its history, and its many natural features.
Directions from Festival Center: 9.0 miles, 16 minutes
Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St through Southwest Harbor and toward Bass Harbor for about 7.8 miles. At the corner gas station, turn left onto ROUTE 102A/Harbor Dr.  In 1.0 mile turn right onto McMullen Ave (at  Post Office). You can park for free next to the Post Office and walk 0.3 miles to the ferry, or if you prefer to drive closer, you can pay $10 to park at the ferry.  From the Post Office, follow McMullen downhill to the T intersection with Granville Rd and turn left. Ferry is on the right in 0.2 miles.
Directions from Bar Harbor:  5.4 miles, 12 minutes
Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Little Cranberry Island
2.5 miles of easy to moderate terrain, with some wet and uneven paths through marsh.
(Meet at Dysart's Marina in Southwest Harbor)

This trip to a quaint out-island off MDI offers both ocean and land birding.  You will be transported to the island from SW Harbor ….along the way getting views of Black Guillemots and perhaps terns as they fly around the waters in route.  This special trip will allow participants to see private areas of the island, typically not accessible to birders.  Many warblers, kinglets, woodpeckers, and flycatchers, will be heard and seen.  On the far side of the island, the group will scan for ducks and seabirds.  Waterproof boots advised for walking through marshy areas.

Directions from Festival Center:  6.7 miles, 15 minutes

Meet the boat at Dysart's Great Harbor Marina in Southwest Harbor at 5:50am sharp.  From Festival Center, head south on Rt. 102 toward Southwest Harbor and drive through town (6.5 miles).  Just south of town, look for signs to the marina.  Turn left on Apple Lane to drive down and park at marina.  Directions from Bar Harbor:  16.1 miles, 26 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Otter Cliffs
2 miles of moderate, hilly terrain with some rocks/roots.
(Meet at Fabbri Picnic area parking lot)

This unique peninsula acts as a migrant trap for birds traveling from Neotropical regions. Mourning, Blackburnian, Cape May, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped, and Northern Parula Warblers.  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy and Downy Woodpecker, Blue-headed Vireo, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin are all found here.   Otter Point, located 12 miles out to sea from the mainland,  offers diverse coastal and deepwater habitats which attracts a variety of seabirds including Common Eider, Black Guillemot, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Red-necked and Horned Grebe,  Double-crested and Great  Cormorant, Northern Gannet, Red-breasted Merganser,  Ruddy Duck  and all three Scoter.   A special treat is the chance to view nesting Black Guillemot on the high vertical cliffs.

Directions from Festival Center:  13.4 miles, 26 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St for 0.8 miles.  At the traffic light, turn right onto ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3.  Drive 1.4 miles, then turn left onto ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd toward Bar Harbor.  In 5.1 miles turn right at Cromwell Harbor Rd (Kebo Valley Golf Course).   Stay on Cromwell Harbor Rd for 1.2 miles, then turn right at ROUTE 3/Main St.  Follow ROUTE 3 for 3.2 miles, then turn left at Otter Cliff Rd.  Turn right into Fabbri Picnic area in 1.7 miles.  If you come to a T intersection (Park Look Road) you have gone too far.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  5.4 miles, 12 minutes

Head south from Bar Harbor on ROUTE 3/Main St. for about 3.7 miles, then turn left at Otter Cliff Rd.  Turn right into Fabbri Picnic area in 1.7 miles.

 

Owl and Night Creature Prowl - Van trip  
Some easy walking.
(Meet at Festival Center)
Join fellow festival goers as the skies get dark and owls begin to hoot. The van will go to various locations on MDI in search of owls. Possible species include Barred, Great-horned and Saw-whet Owls, as well as Whippoorwills, American Woodcock and Common Loons.

 

Pelagic Seabird Boat Trip
(Meet at the town pier in Bar Harbor at 6am - Park at town pier parking lot)

Our popular Pelagic Seabird Boat trip provides a unique opportunity to see birds that live and thrive on the open ocean, far from shore-bound eyes. Each trip is different, offering the potential for Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbills, Phalarope, Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Jaeger, Storm Petrel, Tern, and there are always a few surprises.
We sail aboard the Friendship V, one of the fastest most stable birding platforms in the country. Depending on conditions, and recent reports, we may visit Mt Desert Rock (25 miles off-shore), the nearby “Ball Park”, a nutrient rich upwelling, and Petit Manan Island for nesting birds, all known hotspots. Good birds are often seen along the way. Experienced local ABF Birding Guides and a Ship’s Naturalist will assist in locating and directing you to target birds. Although birding is our primary focus, incidental sightings of marine mammals are possible. We sometimes see whales, porpoise, dolphin and seals. If you wish to experience the rich diversity of bird life on the open North Atlantic Ocean and its coastal islands, this trip is for you. Bring your ID!   For comfort, dress for winter.  If cancelled due to weather, the make-up date will be Monday from 11:40am-4:00pm on the regularly scheduled whale watch trip (if you can’t make this date, we will refund your money).  Please call 207-233-3694 or visit www.acadiabirdingfestival.com after 6:00pm on Friday (the day prior to the trip) to check about possible cancellation.

Directions from Festival Center:  8.7 miles, 16 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St for 0.8 miles.  At the traffic light, turn right onto ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3.  Drive 1.4 miles, then turn left onto ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd toward Bar Harbor.  In 5.8 miles you’ll reach Bar Harbor.  Continue straight onto Mt. Desert St.  In 0.5 miles, turn left at Main St. In 0.3 miles, at the bottom of the hill, you’ll be at the town pier.  Parking at the pier is for 2 hours only, but the clock starts ticking at 9am, meaning you have until 11am, and the Pelagic trip will return before 11am.  You can also find parking on West Street.

Directions from Bar Harbor:

At the town dock.  Corner of West St. and Main St.

 

Peregrine Falcon Viewing
No walking.

(Meet at the Precipice trail Parking lot)

Every day from 9:00 AM to noon, join Acadia National Park rangers to view the nesting Peregrine Falcons.  The rangers will have spotting scopes and continuous interpretation to teach you about Peregrine Falcons and other raptors on MDI.  Sitting atop the food chain, raptors are known for their power, speed, and special adaptations.  Arrive at your leisure anytime during the designated hours.

Directions from Festival Center:  11 miles, 22 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St for 0.8 miles.  At the traffic light, turn right onto ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3.  Drive 1.4 miles, then turn left onto ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd toward Bar Harbor.  In 5.1 miles turn right at Cromwell Harbor Rd (Kebo Valley Golf Course).  Stay on Cromwell Harbor Rd for 0.5 miles, then take the first right onto Kebo St.  In 0.5 miles, turn left at Ocean Drive/Park Loop Rd.  Drive 2.8 miles to Precipice Trail Parking lot on right.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  4.1 miles, 9 minutes

Head south from Bar Harbor on ROUTE 3/Main St. for about 2.0 miles, then turn right following signs to Ocean Drive/Park Loop Rd (also sign for Sieur de Monts Spring).  Stay to the right, then at the T, turn right again onto the Park Loop Rd.  Follow for 1.9 miles to Precipice Trail Parking lot on right.
 

Pretty Marsh/Long Pond Fire Road

2 miles of easy to moderate terrain, with 100 ft elevation change.
(Meet at the entrance to the Pretty Marsh picnic area)

Surrounded by a maturing Red Spruce Forest with views of Hardwood and Bartlett Islands, Pretty Marsh is an Acadia gem where land meets sea. Blackburnian Warblers, Northern Parula, White-winged Crossbill, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-headed Vireo, and Hermit Thrush make this seaside forest their home. Bald Eagle, Osprey, Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, and occasionally, non-breeding Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoters as well as Harbor Seals are seen in the saltwater of Blue Hill Bay.

Directions from Festival Center:  4.0 miles, 7 minutes

Head WEST onto ROUTE 102/Pretty Marsh Rd (not south). In 3.5 miles, DO NOT TURN RIGHT towards Pretty Marsh.  Stay on ROUTE 102 for 0.5 more miles, then turn right into the Pretty Marsh picnic area, and park immediately to the left in designated area.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  12.0 miles, 20 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Schoodic Point
2 miles of easy to moderate terrain.
(Meet at the Festival Center)

Though part of Acadia National Park, this gem of an area lies across the bay from Bar Harbor on the mainland. Archeological collections from the Schoodic Peninsula reveal evidence of the Great Auk and Sea Mink which attest the areas past wild and remote status. Recent land acquisitions have expanded the national park’s jurisdiction assuring preservation and better access to a larger contiguous landscape and a developing corridor for wildlife passage and refugia, Schoodic Point to Schoodic Mountain. This field trip combines birding these more remote areas of Acadia National Park and bird banding (unfortunately CANCELLED 2017) at the Schoodic Institute Bird Ecology Program Banding Station. We’ll visit peninsula hotspots in pursuit of migrants, search for local Spruce Grouse, and learn about bird research and monitoring in the Gulf of Maine.  Lunch is included.

Seal Cove - Cape Rd
2.5 miles of easy walking.
(Meet at Seal Cove boat launch)

This walk begins along the water's edge of Seal Cove, where Osprey, Bald Eagle, and Common Loon frequent. As we wander up Cape Road, there will be low shrubby habitat with a variety of warblers, included Chestnut-sided, Black-and-white, Northern Parula, American Redstart, and Magnolia. Also expect vireos, waxwings, flycatchers, thrushes, sparrows, and flycatchers. One of the best parts of this walk is not only the abundance of species, but the ease of viewing many birds that stay low in the bushes. On up the road, we'll venture into the coniferous forest to hear and see the forest dwelling birds.
Directions from Festival Center: 7.7 miles, 13 minutes
Head WEST onto ROUTE 102/Pretty Marsh Rd (not south).
In 3.5 miles, DO NOT TURN RIGHT towards Pretty Marsh.  Stay left on ROUTE 102 and drive 3.7 more miles to the SECOND Cape Road turnoff. Note that you will pass the FIRST Cape Road junction in about 1.5 miles, but DO NOT TURN HERE.  In 2.0 more miles you will reach the second Cape Road, turn right, and drive 0.5 miles to small parking area on right (across from boat ramp and dock)
Directions from Bar Harbor:  15.7 miles, 26 minutes
Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Seawall

1 mile of easy, flat terrain.

(Meet at parking area off Route 102A by the Beaver Pond at Seawall)

This is one of the most consistent places on MDI for seabirds of all types including Common Eider, American Black Duck, Black Guillemot, Common Loon, Northern Gannet, and a variety of Scoter. Along the dynamic coastal edge which features natural rock seawalls, you’ll also see a variety of warblers, and Alder Flycatcher. Described by Roger Tory Peterson as one of the most beautiful places on MDI, it has a rich diversity of bird species, largely due to habitat like the Great Heath, where bogs and brackish water ponds are surrounded by scrub Black and Red Spruce forests. Look for Merlin and Sharp-shinned Hawk roosting on the top branches. If time permits, we’ll also venture into Seawall Campground where numerous warblers can be found, including Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Black-and-White, Yellow, Northern Parula, and American Redstart.  Look for Merlin and Sharp-shinned Hawk roosting on the top branches.

Directions from Festival Center:  9.0 miles, 15 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St toward Southwest Harbor for 6.2 miles.  After passing through Southwest Harbor, turn left on ROUTE 102 Alt/Seawall Rd.  Drive 2.8 miles to parking area on right side of road next to the beaver pond.

Directions from Ship Harbor: 1.6 miles, 3 minutes

Turn right (east) out of parking lot and drive 1.6 miles to parking area on left next to beaver pond.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  17.0 miles, 28 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Ship Harbor Nature Trail

1.2 miles, moderate walk with some roots and rocks in trail.

(Meet at the Ship Harbor parking lot)

This is one of the island's most beautiful spots. Ship Harbor is a small, nearly landlocked harbor, connected to the open ocean by a narrow gut. The trail begins in a small field featuring edge habitat, quickly yielding to Red and White Spruce forest that generally shadows the shoreline of ship harbor and its connecting waters to the sea. At mid-point, a short side trip down to a round rock beach, at the head of the harbor, is well worth the time to experience a pristine pool of salt water warmly embraced by a boreal forest.
Traversing the spruce/fir forest you will be greeted by Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch Black-capped Chickadees as well as Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated and Song Sparrow. Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers make their homes here and there is a good chance that you’ll hear the erratically musical trill of a Winter Wren from deep within a tangle of slash, nearby. At its apogee, the trail emerges onto pink granite ledges, fronting the open Atlantic Ocean where a brief sea-watch will generally yield Common Eider, Scoter, and Black Guillemot, diving for Rock Eel and Mussels. Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe and Double-crested Cormorants are common in the water. The third leg, heading inland, places us in unusual open spaces somewhat reminiscent of Pine Barrens. Here we have encountered Merlin, in multiple years, and have witnessed a pair mating, no doubt nesting in the area. Leaving the open spaces we once again enter the softwood forest, where Hermit Thrush forage in the litter, and American Redstart, Yellow, Nashville, Black and White, Yellow-rumped and Black-throated Green Warblers, Northern Parula, and Common Yellowthroat can be heard or seen.
Directions from Festival Center:  10.5 miles, 18 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St toward Southwest Harbor for 6.2 miles.  After passing through Southwest Harbor, turn left on ROUTE 102 Alt/Seawall Rd.  Drive 4.3 miles to parking lot on left side of road.  Note:  You will pass Wonderland Trail in route, which is also a great location to bird.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  18.5 miles, 31 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Sieur de Monts Spring

1.75 miles, flat, easy walk.
(Meet at Sieur de Monts Spring parking)

The “spring” situated here was used to prevent perishable food from spoiling by early Native Americans. The on-site Abbe Museum celebrates Native American culture and history in Maine while the extensive grounds provide excellent birding opportunities for festival goers. The two primary trails, Jessup Path and Hemlock Rd, are configured into a figure eight, double loop which affords the option for a shorter walk for those so inclined. The diversity of the trail system presents a wonderful mix of forested wetland, upland marsh, mixed growth and conifer forests hosting a wide variety of bird species. The Jessup trail begins as a boardwalk offering a quiet, almost ethereal experience through a forested wetland with a lush carpet of moss and fern. Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, and migrating warbler are found foraging here. Blackpoll, Magnolia, and Nashville Warblers appear along with the regulars often enough, to keep sharp eyes on the lookout. Juvenile begging has revealed active woodpecker nests along the boardwalk. Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpecker are regulars, with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Yellow-shafted Flicker making frequent appearances.
Where the two trails meet, several walks have found skulking Black-billed Cuckoo and Canada Warbler in the tangle. At this juncture, we transition into marshy grasslands where ubiquitous Yellow Warbler are joined by Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Least and Alder Flycatchers with Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatchers occasional treats. Beyond, the trail gently rises through hardwoods and mixed growth to the Park Loop Road, where Thrush, Sparrow and Warbler are prevalent. On our return, we enter a mixed forest featuring a section dense with towering Hemlock. Thrush forage in the litter, Blue-headed Vireo call overhead while Brown Creeper, Red and White-breasted Nuthatch investigate promising nooks and crannies. Barred Owls, frequently seen here, are sometimes called in close by able ABF birding guides. Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager and Winter Wren have graced past lists and we were surprised by a migrating Mourning Warbler singing its heart beside the parking lot as we gathered one morning. Although unusual sightings, these delightful little surprises remind us that you never know what will pop up on any walk. Be vigilent!
Directions from Festival Center:  10.3 miles, 19 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St for 0.8 miles.  At the traffic light, turn right onto ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3.  Drive 1.4 miles, then turn left onto ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd toward Bar Harbor.  In 5.1 miles turn right at Cromwell Harbor Rd (Kebo Valley Golf Course).   Stay on Cromwell Harbor Rd for 1.2 miles, then turn right at ROUTE 3/Main St.  Follow ROUTE 3 for 1.6 miles (note mileage), then turn right, following signs for Sieur de Monts Spring.  Sign may not be obvious.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  4.1 miles, 9 minutes

Head south from Bar Harbor on ROUTE 3/Main St. for about 2.0 miles, then turn right following signs for Sieur de Monts Spring.

 

Thurston’s Lobster Pound

Join festival staff and fellow participants as we eat like the locals enjoying Lobster, Clams and Corn cooked in the traditional Down East way: A Maine meal you will not want to miss, especially if you like seafood. Take time to enjoy classic Down East scenery, a working harbor, and Maine lobster boats surrounded by a mountain view.  This is a good time to relax and visit.

Directions from Festival Center:  9.6 miles, 18 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St through Southwest Harbor and toward Bass Harbor for 7.8 miles.  At the corner gas station, be sure to curve to the right.  Drive another 1.1 miles, then turn left onto Bernard Road.  Drive 0.6 miles and turn right on Steamboat Wharf Road. The restaurant is on your left in 0.1 miles.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  17.6 miles, 31 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Valley Cove and Flying Mountain

1.5 miles of easy to difficult, hilly terrain. 150 ft elevation climb.

(Meet at the parking area off Fernald Point Road)

Experience one of MDI’s diverse emerging old growth forests for Neotropical migrants. Tall Red Spruce, White Pines and Cedar are breeding habitat for Blackburnian and Magnolia Warblers, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, Swainson's Thrush, Pileated and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Pine Siskin. During irruption years, White-winged Crossbills can frequent the area! The trail takes you to Valley Cove where you can gaze at the cliffs of St. Sauveur Mountain and search for Peregrine Falcon nesting on the cliffs. From the cove, there is an option to take a more strenuous hike over Flying Mountain and enjoy fabulous views of Somes Sound and beyond.

Directions from Festival Center:  5.5 miles, 11 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St toward Southwest Harbor for 4.6 miles.  Turn left onto Fernald Point Road.  Drive 0.9 miles to parking lot on left side of road, just after you cross the tidal creek. 
Directions from Seawall:  5.3 miles, 10 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102 Alt N/Seawall Rd toward Southwest Harbor for 2.8 miles.  Turn right at ROUTE 102/Main St.  Drive 1.6 miles then turn right on Fernald Point Rd.  Drive 0.9 miles to parking lot on left side of road, after you cross the tidal creek.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  13.5 miles, 24 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Wendell Gilley Museum
(Southwest Harbor – just north of town center at corner of Herrick Rd)

The Wendell Gilley Museum is a community center that celebrates the life and work of Wendell Gilley, a pioneer in the field of decorative bird carving. It teaches the art of bird carving and presents art exhibitions and educational programs with a special focus on people, nature and art. The Museum endeavors to inspire appreciation of the visual arts, engagement in artistic creativity, and respect and care for the natural world.  Exploring the natural world through art and action is fun at the Gilley Museum.  Stop in, there is always so much to see and do. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM.

Directions from Festival Center:  5.2 miles, 10 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St toward Southwest Harbor for 5.2 miles. Turn left on Herrick Road.  The Museum is immediately on your right.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  13.2 miles, 23 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.

 

Witch Hole
3 miles of hilly, but easy terrain.
(Meet at Duck Brook Bridge entrance)

This walk starts at Duck Brook Bridge, which is strategically located to offer lovely views of Frenchman Bay to the north and excellent views of the Mount Desert range to the south. From there we wander down the Rockefeller carriage roads for an easy walk through a mixed forest burned by the Fire of 1947. This forest is home to Black-throated Blue and Magnolia Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Alder Flycatcher, and Ruffed Grouse. Multiple wetlands provide habitat for occasional-to-rare sightings of American Bittern, Common Mergansers and Pied-billed Grebe, as well as sandpipers and waders. Some lingering Ducks in the spring can help make this an excellent place to bird during the Acadia Birding Festival. Various frogs and turtles to be seen and heard too!

Directions from Festival Center:  7.1 miles, 13 minutes

Head north on ROUTE 102/Main St for 0.8 miles.  At the traffic light, turn right onto ROUTE 198/ROUTE 3.  Drive 1.4 miles, then turn left onto ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd toward Bar Harbor.  In 3.8 miles (NOTE MILEAGE), you will have past Eagle Lake, then look for Duck Brook Rd on left (may not be labeled, but has a DEAD END sign). Go 1.1 miles down Duck Brook Rd to parking area.  Meet at the Duck Brook Bridge.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  3.1 miles, 6 minutes

Head west on ROUTE 233/Eagle Lake Rd for approximately 2.0 miles (NOTE MILEAGE).  Before reaching Eagle Lake, turn right onto Duck Brook Road (may not be labeled, but has a DEAD END sign).  Go 1.1 miles down Duck Brook Rd to parking area.  Meet at the Duck Brook Bridge.

 

Wonderland (just northeast of Ship Harbor)

2 miles, easy walk

(Meet at the Wonderland parking lot)

This walk is similar to the Ship Harbor Nature Trail, and traverses through a forest of Red and White Spruce, emerging onto a lovely short loop trail at ocean’s edge. The forest is a migrant trap in the spring, and is home to Spruce Grouse, Hermit Thrush, Pileated Woodpecker, and a variety of warblers.  Observe Common Eiders, Black Guillemots, Scoters, Common Loons, possible shorebirds, and Bald Eagles along the shore.

Directions from Festival Center:  10.5 miles, 18 minutes

Head south on ROUTE 102/Main St toward Southwest Harbor for 6.2 miles.  After passing through Southwest Harbor, turn left on ROUTE 102 Alt/Seawall Rd.  Drive about 4 miles to parking lot on left side of road.

Directions from Bar Harbor:  18.5 miles, 31 minutes

Drive to Festival Center, then follow directions from the Center.