Wild Gardens of Acadia
The Wild Gardens of Acadia in Acadia National Park, Maine is maintained by a diverse group of community volunteers. It reflects the typical habitats as found on Mount Desert Island. More than 300 native species are labeled to make identification easy in nine separate display areas. The garden is open year round and is located at the Sieur de Monts Spring and Nature Center, 2 miles south of Bar Harbor near the intersection of the Park Loop Road and Route 3 on Mount Desert Island. There is no entrance fee required.
Nature Center GPS: 44.362097; -68.207830
What is Here?
When you first drive into the parking area, it may not seem like much is here. But trust me, when you get out and start your walk past the brown building, a magical natural world unfolds which not only includes the Wild Gardens of Acadia, but the original park location of the Abbe Museum and the Nature Center as well. There are a few little benches in special spots where you can relax, absorb the surroundings and become more familiar with the diversity of plant life that creates such a unique mixture on the coast of Maine.
Behind and to the right of Wild Gardens of Acadia are some hiking trails. Your may want to spend some time exploring these while you are here as well. To the left past the Nature Center, the walking path goes to Sieur de Monts Spring House then continues to the original Abbe Museum. A trail continues south from there to The Tarn. If you go to the right of the gardens, you may connect up with Jesup Trail which goes towards Bar Harbor. There is a long section of the trail where a boardwalk was constructed. There are some striking views along these trails including a section where the trail goes through a stand of white birch trees.
How to Get There
From the Bar Harbor business district, go south on Main Street (Route) past the high school sports field (on the right) and then Jackson Lab (on the left) until you arrive at the entrance to Acadia National Park on the right. Take this and almost immediately, take a left to the Nature Center, Sieur de Monts Spring, the original Abbe Museum, and Wild Gardens of Acadia parking area. The other way is if you are traveling southeast on the Park Loop Road through Bar Harbor. Since this section of the road near the gardens is one-way, the exit turn-off will be on the right after a long stand of trees. Take this and then an almost immediate right into the Nature Center parking area. There are restroom facilities next to the parking area on the left.
Note: The Island Explorer Shuttle Bus has a pickup and drop-off point here.
Refer to the Acadia Hiking Trails page for information about many of the most popular trails within the park.
Magical Setting of Acadia
There are several meandering paths here with lots of native plants labeled so you can easily identify them. There is also small stream that goes through here that adds a wonderful touch to the setting. I especially have enjoyed this during the autumn season, and view the surrounding areas as an extended garden which makes sense since Wild Gardens of Acadia is about what is growing on the whole island. The paths, and even an access road of some kind, make for a very easy and relaxed walk. Many people come here for birding and you will often see some talks happening with a Park Ranger. There are numerous good photo opportunities if you keep your creative eye open and your camera ready.