When I moved to Maine 26 years ago, one of the first bits of advice I received was to stay away from Acadia National Park in the summer because it was too congested with tourists. Wait until after Labor Day, I was told, when the crowds disappear.

As the years have passed and the number of visitors to the park has increased, that advice hasn’t really held up. Acadia logged just shy of 4 million visitors last year, and many of the park’s popular spots can be quite crowded well past Labor Day with leaf peepers and cruise ship tourists.

If you’re looking to hike to some vistas in Acadia in fall and want to avoid crowds at the popular trails and peaks, consider heading to the part of the park known to locals as The Quiet Side. Technically, it’s the area west of Somes Sound, but the mountains just east of the sound tend to be less crowded, as well.

In mid-September, my wife, Jayme, and I hiked two days on both sides of Somes Sound, summited five mountains and only encountered a handful of people on the trails and peaks.

We climbed up Acadia Mountain and St. Sauveur Mountain on the first day, starting along the Valley Cove Trail, which runs along the west side of Somes Sound. The trail dips down to the shore of the sound in a few places and also has numerous viewpoints along its length. Acadia Mountain Trail climbs steeply to the peak but has numerous ledges with sweeping views of the sound.

Bald Peak, Parkman Mountain and Gilmore Peak, just east of Somes Sound, were our goals on the second day. We waited out a passing rain shower in the trailhead parking area and then started up the Bald Peak Trail. We made the summit in just an hour but rains came back through and obscured our views of the ocean from all three peaks. Nonetheless, the hike down Maple Spring Trail more than made up for the lack of views. The trail, which runs along – and sometimes through – two branches of Hadlock Brook, passed by numerous cascades that were flowing full due to recent rains. After passing through a narrow gorge, the trail passes under the stunning Hemlock Bridge, which carries a carriage road high over Hadlock Brook.

We encountered about 30 people on the trails our first day and only eight on our second day and spent most of the time hiking in solitude. Far from the madding crowd, it was a quiet time, indeed.

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