By Colleen O’Neill Mulvihill
When my husband and I married this past July, we wanted a honeymoon in which we could relax, tour great scenery, and — most challenging of all — take our three dogs with us. Now, taking three dogs anywhere can be a challenge, especially when most hotels have a maximum of two allowed, but taking our three dogs is exceptionally challenging because we have two Great Danes and a jumbo White Labrador Retriever totaling a whopping 360 pounds of dog!
Since we’ve been travel trailer owners for the last five years, camping with the dogs was the perfect way to tick all our boxes. In our experience, some campgrounds are way better suited for traveling with dogs than others.
Keeping the “large campsite, generous layout” in mind, we booked a five-night stay at Schoodic Woods Campground in Winter Harbor, Maine. This amazing campground did not disappoint. With its lush sections of forest between each campsite, nicely paved roads, and deep and level campsites, we were hooked as soon as we checked in! Service was exceptionally friendly from the moment we stepped foot into the gorgeous, wood hewn-beamed reception area.
Our site was in Loop B, one of only two loops that accept travel trailers and tents alike. There are also a few hike-in tent spots for those seeking a more secluded, “off the grid” spot. Sites are well appointed for even the largest motorhomes, with most having electric and water hookups. There is a dump site in each loop, with both potable and non-potable water, along with convenient dumpsters and recycling centers. One important note — the bathhouses in each loop do not have showers. Plan to either shower in your RV or look for some public bathhouses off the property where you can pay a fee to shower. These are the most clean and attractive bathhouses I’ve seen in any campground.
Schoodic Woods Campground has an outdoor amphitheater that is both handicapped accessible and secluded from the campsites. A five- to seven-minute walk from the furthest campsite or a quick one-minute drive to the adjacent parking lot allows visitors of all accessibility levels the opportunity to view a program put on by the friendly national park rangers from the area. We took in an all-ages show-and-tell-type presentation on beavers and their habitats. We even brought the dogs with us, as did a few other participants. Each night there is a different topic to share with visitors. Check with the registration desk or on the outdoor schedule viewer for each night’s topic.
Bike paths and hiking trails are abundant throughout Schoodic Point. Many paths begin inside or adjacent to the campground, so getting around is easy. Take the incredibly scenic Loop Road around the peninsula to take in some of the most gorgeous scenery Maine has to offer. Accessible by car or bicycle, this one-way loop road provides two lanes, one for those who want to meander, bicycle, or stop to take photos, and a second for passing others when necessary. Several pull-off points make it easy to find a place to stop for a picnic lunch or a lazy walk along the craggy rock ocean coast. Trail heads are also abundant throughout for hikers. Bike and trail maps are available at the campground registration office.
Want to adventure over to the touristy Bar Harbor? The walk-on ferry travels multiple times a day between Winter Harbor and Bar Harbor. This one-hour ferry ride is a bargain at $25 per person round trip. The crew members point out the various coves and islands, providing a historical perspective only seen from the water. Along the way, we spotted schools of porpoise gleefully jumping in and out of the salt water, and an eagle nesting far above the jagged rock coastline in a massive pine tree. This ferry ride was one of my favorite adventures while in Maine. Dogs and bicycles are allowed on the ferry as well, free of charge! If you take your dog, just be aware that the docks in Bar Harbor have non-slip metal grating when you first step off the boat. If your dog has trouble walking on metal grating, this may make it challenging to get your canine up to the landing.
Bar Harbor is an extremely dog-friendly town. Most shops and restaurants leave water bowls outside their doors for thirsty four-legged tourists, and even allow them to rest comfortably under an outside dining table while you eat. Sidewalks can get crowded during the summer months, and lots of tourists bring their canine companions along, so be sure your dog does well with crowds and unfamiliar dogs. Make sure to stop in Bark Harbor, located at 150 Main Street, downtown. This cute, quirky little shop has everything you need to spoil your four-legged furry family members. Homemade tasty treats in the case near the register are sure to please.
After long days of exploring, our camping spot was a welcoming sight. As we curled around the crackling fire, we heard crickets chirping and birds gleefully greeting the setting sun. A soft breeze blew by, bringing in the crispness that accompanies most summer nights in Maine. We couldn’t have asked for more at that moment, as our wine glasses clinked together. Exploring all that coastal Maine has to offer is now officially on our retirement bucket list!
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