Golfing MDI

Last week, good buddy Steve and I enjoyed the last of our Little Guy Max RV golf trips for the season, on this trip visiting Mount Desert Island to experience once again the outstanding course that is Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor. What we did not expect is that we would find a much less well-renowned course that we liked just as much!

Before I share the details, however, I wish to state that I remain keenly aware of the fact that this blog is STILL lacking a post dedicated just to Acadia National Park and the remarkable Park Loop Road, one of the absolute best motorbike roads in the east. I had every intention of remedying this fault this summer, but with one thing and another, I never did it. So the motorbike travelogue post that I know you’ve all been waiting for will (sadly) have to wait for another year.

But it is also true that the Park Loop Road, magnificent as it is, is but one small part of the glory that is Acadia National Park. There are countless recreational opportunities in Acadia outside of the Loop, and on this trip we explored some of the more off-the-beaten-path gems which are hidden here.

To do this, we deliberately chose to stay at Acadia’s Seawall Campground, on the west side of Mount Desert Island, on the other side of Somes Sound from Bar Harbor and the most popular parts of the national park. Locals refer to this as the “quiet side” of MDI, because there is MUCH less traffic here and a MUCH lower crowd count. Seawall Campground is in the village of Seawall, just outside of Southwest Harbor. Founded in 1937, this is a nice campground with well-spaced and forested sites. It is not, however, located on the shore, despite the name — so do not expect ocean views if you stay here!

Because this is an older campground, the campsites are on the small side. Those with large fifth-wheels or long travel trailers would, I suspect, find it difficult to fit into most of them. As you can see from the above photos, our site was too small for the truck to fit in lengthwise in front of the (21-foot long) RV; we had to pull it in cater-cornered for it to fit.

Worse, however, is the fact that the bathhouses are severely lacking. Not only are there no showers and no hot water, there are not even paper towels or hand dryers there; if you want a shower (and you don’t have one in your nice RV like we do!), you have to exit the campground and pay for one at a general store about a mile down the road. Neither does the campground sell firewood, to me an obvious revenue source, so why would they not provide it? Fortunately there are a number of local vendors on the approach road who will serve your firewood needs for $3-$5 per bundle.

I asked a park ranger why there were no showers, and was told that when the campground was built in 1937, there was neither the water pressure nor the infrastructure to deliver enough water for showers, as the campground was at the end of the pipeline. My view is that, while this might well have been the case 85 years ago, I find it hard to believe that the technology does not exist today. Consequently, I cannot recommend Seawall Campground to anyone, despite the attractiveness of the campsites. I shudder to think what we would have done for personal hygiene had we not had the amenities of the wet bath in the Little Guy.

I took no photos of lovely and historic Kebo Valley Golf Club on this trip, because I did a lengthy post on it back in 2020 when we visited it for the first time (“Bar Harbor, Sort Of”) and you can check it out there if you wish. The course remains as beautiful and challenging as ever, perhaps even more lovely with the autumnal onset of the changing leaves. I played poorly on this trip but nevertheless enjoyed the experience. We had hopes of playing Kebo twice, but on the second day available to us, the course was booked with a tournament.

Fortunately, however, Steve found another course for us to try — the Causeway Club in Southwest Harbor. This is a beautiful nine-hole course with ocean and mountain views, challenging and interesting, hard along the shore with the last three holes all being unique and difficult par-3s.

With the September sun, now post-equinox, setting in the late afternoon, we enjoyed two sparkling afternoons of golf here.

As can be seen from the above photos, Steve was in excellent form!

On the day we left, having brought our bicycles, we decided to bike out from Seawall to take two short hikes to the ocean, one at Ship’s Cove and the other at Wonderland, both only about a mile apart.

These are easy, fifteen-minute walks over wide and relatively flat trails, and the shoreline views are spectacular, made even more so by the dearth of people enjoying them.

So, while I would absolutely encourage anyone to visit Acadia, golf at Kebo Valley and Causeway, and make the effort to see Ship’s Cove and Wonderland, I would definitely steer you away from Seawall Campground. Blackwoods Campground on the east side of the island is very good, as is the privately-owned Mount Desert Campground at the top of Somes Sound. Skip Seawall unless you enjoy cold-water sponge baths!

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