The Ocean Path is one of the finest walks in all of Acadia National Park, meandering for a little over two spectacular miles along the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island from Sand Beach to Otter Cliffs. The Ocean Path is resplendent with scenic beauty—pink granite cliffs and ledges, pounding ocean surf, dramatic mountains, a sand beach, deep green forests, island vistas, sea birds and marine mammals. It’s also an easy and mostly level stroll, and its proximity to Ocean Drive (the Park Loop Road) makes it possible to hike a short section of the path or all of it as you desire. Double your oceanside walking pleasure and make it a round-trip journey of 4 miles.
From the upper parking lot at Sand Beach, follow the wide and graded fine gravel of the Ocean Path southward, hugging the shoreline. Enjoy views of the beach and Great Head as you make your way 3/4 of a mile to Thunder Hole, one of the most popular destinations in the park. When the weather and tides are just right, the pounding surf ferociously rushes into the narrow cleft in the pink granite cliffs and forces out the air from the concave space of the hole beneath the cliffs. This powerful action creates a thundering boom, and the resulting waves can splash as high as 40 feet. It’s an amazing sight and a thrilling experience.
Further along are the impressive sea stacks and polished cobbles of Monument Cove, and just ahead, the famously sheer walls of Otter Cliffs come into focus. As you wind along through the fragrant spruce forest just inland from the cliffs, numerous short side paths lead to cliff-top windows with bold ocean views. Oftentimes, rock climbers with colorful ropes and clanging gear can be seen scaling the vertical faces of Otter Cliffs. Pause awhile in the sun to drink in the natural wonders, the salty air, the squawking gulls, and the lumbering lobster boats. Then saunter on to the end of the path at Otter Point.
To reach the Ocean Path: From the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, drive south on the Park Loop Road for 9 miles. From the center of Bar Harbor at the intersection of Cottage and Main streets, travel south on Route 3 for about 4 miles. Just before The Tarn, turn right at the sign marking the entrance to Acadia National Park. Follow signs through the Sieur de Monts Spring area to the Park Loop Road. Take this one-way road south for another 3 miles to Sand Beach, passing through the Sand Beach Entrance Station en route. The Island Explorer shuttle bus makes three stops along the Ocean Path route, at Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs.