THING TO DO

Hike Bar Island Trail

People walking across an exposed sand bar between an island and the mainland
Visitors walk between Bar Island and Bar Harbor at low tide

NPS Photo/Kat Connelly

For 1.5 hours before and after low tide, a gravel bar is exposed connecting the town of Bar Harbor and Bar Island. The bar provide opportunities for investigating small tide pools. Once on the island, the Bar Island Trail gradually ascends through the forest on an old road to various open sections with views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay.

  • Distance: 1.9 miles round trip (gravel bar and trail)
  • Terrain: Rocks, gravel sand bar, old dirt road, forested path

Be cautious and aware of the tides, as the bar is otherwise covered by the ocean. If you walk over to the island and lose track of time, it is 9 hours until the bar emerges again to safely walk across.

Hike Description

  • Start the hike by walking down Bridge Street from West Street in downtown Bar Harbor. Before taking this hike, check the tide chart for Bar Island

  • Walk across the "land bridge" for .5 miles towards Bar Island.

  • Once on the island, continue past the trailhead signs and onto the Bar Island Trail.

  • The trail gradually ascends through the forest on an old road.

  • At the next junction, turn right for a short spur to an old home site with a view of Bar Harbor.

  • Return to the trail and bear left towards the highest point on the island. Enjoy views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay. Time your hike carefully to allow adequate return time based on the tides.

  • Return back down the trail and across the land bridge to Bridge Street and Bar Harbor.

Details
Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
Although this activity is free, a park entrance pass is required for all areas of the park from May 1 through October 31.
  • The Trailhead: Where to Begin

    • Bar Island Trail starts by walking down Bridge Street from West Street in downtown Bar Harbor.

  • Getting to the Trailhead

    • By car: Start from Hulls Cove Visitor Center. At the four-way intersection, turn left. Turn right at the stop sign onto ME Route 3. Continue south for 2 miles, then turn left onto West Street. Park along this road and walk down Bridge Street. You must pay for parking downtown from May 15 to October 31. Parking is not allowed on the Bar or on Bridge Street.

    • By bus: Take the fare-free Island Explorer to downtown Bar Harbor and walk to Bridge Street.

Accessibility Information
Bar Island Trail and the land bridge formed at low tide are not accessible. The trail is sand and gravel with uneven footing and roots that continue onto the island.
Yellow warning sign about tide changes
Warning sign regarding tides before land bridge to Bar Island

NPS Photo/Lisa Girardin

Trail Safety Tips

  • The land bridge to Bar Island is exposed at low tide. The opportunity to hike occurs between the window of time 1.5 hours before to 1.5 hours after low tide.
  • Reduce the chance of picking up ticks by staying in the center of the trail, and not stepping on soils and away from brush.
  • Always do a tick check after visiting the park.
  • Closed-toe, good traction shoes recommended because most trail surfaces are very unlevel.

Last updated: October 30, 2020