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"In the mid-1800s, rusticators came to [Mount Desert Island] to enjoy its beauty and to   
escape the bustle of large cities. They followed many of the existing paths and trails
up mountains, through forests, and along ocean shoreline. Among the rusticators were
Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole and Frederic Church. Their renderings
of the island attracted city dwellers to experience the Maine coast."
~ from the Acadia National Park website re: hiking trails
I must admit I've never heard of a "rusticator." Funny thing is, the term could apply to Jim and me.

When I did an online search I found several similar definitions, including "vacationer," "summer boarder," "to go to or live in the country," and "to live a rural or rustic life." Yup, that's us! (Me even more than Jim, since I grew up on a rustic farm.)

I used this quote as a lead-in for this entry because one of the reasons I chose to hike along the coast in Acadia National Park is the photos and paintings I've seen throughout my life of Maine's rugged coastline. Perhaps some were the work of Cole or Church?

Modern-day painters (and photographers) love the views from the Ocean Path, too.

Scene near Thunder Hole; this would make a nice painting.

When we drove around the park loop road on our first day on Mount Desert Island we could see parts of the Ocean Path, which stretches about 4 miles from Sand Beach to Otter Cove on the southeastern side of the island.

Some of the trail lies only a few feet or yards from the road; thankfully, some of it is hidden in woods between the road and seacoast. All of it is within sight of the water and beautiful rocky coastline.

One place where the Ocean Path is very close to the road

My first hike on the Ocean Path was on Sunday, a perfectly beautiful, sunny day in the 70s F. with a nice breeze along the coast. I hiked solo for four hours (about 10 miles) while Jim was doing a long bike ride. Although dogs are allowed on most trails in Acadia National Park -- unusual for a national park -- I didn't think the long hike I planned would be suitable for either Casey or Cody that day.

I got an early start so I could get a parking spot at Sand Beach or Thunder Hole. When I passed both parking lots they were virtually empty and never got as full later that day as when we first saw them on Wednesday. Go figure.

I parked at Thunder Hole, walked north on the Ocean Path to Sand Beach, did a loop around the Great Head peninsula, walked back to Thunder Hole, then hiked out and back along the coast to Otter Cove:

I gave Jim such a glowing report about the coastal hike that instead of riding his bike today, our last full day in the area, he suggested we take the dogs for a hike on the Ocean Path. We did a shorter hike this time between Thunder Hole to Otter Cove and back, a total distance of about three miles.

Rather than showing photos in chronological order I'll show them by location, with some comments about each section of the trail.


I showed some photos from Thunder Hole in the September 5 entry when Jim and I drove around the island and described how the granite ocean side chasm sometimes emits a thunderous rumble when the tide is coming in.

On Sunday I parked across the road from Thunder Hole about 7:30 AM and went down to the viewing platform above the chasm before the crowds arrived:



Although I was there a couple hours before high tide, when it's reportedly the most likely to hear the "thunder" in the narrow chasm, all I heard were interesting sloshing and gurgling sounds. Nor were there any huge sprays of water like I've seen in the photos on postcards.

I took more photos of the beautiful rocks in this area while few to no people were around, including the one at the beginning of this entry:






The trail in this section lies very close to the road for about two miles but there are paths down to the rocky shore that offer respite from the traffic. I took several of those so I could get better views of the shoreline:




It was fun to walk around on the colorful granite bedrock, hear the waves crash against the shoreline, hop over little pools of water, watch the seagulls and cormorants feeding, see various types of watercraft go by (sailboats, yachts, fishing boats, tour boats), and take pictures of the gorgeous scenery:



Above and below:  cormorants (the black birds) and seagulls

Photos continued on the next page:  Sand Beach and Great Head

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil