There are approximately 2,800 miles between New York and Los Angeles; 3,300 between Seattle and Miami; 3,100 from Boston to San Francisco. And as a Trek leader, I could be anywhere among them with less than a day's notice.
Having so much terrain to traverse at my fingertips, not knowing exactly where I'll be next, is incredibly exciting. It could be Flagstaff, AZ; it might be Niagara Falls, NY. But within those 3,794,000 square miles, there's one place I always hope to return to each season.
Drum roll, please... Located in the east coast's star national park, Acadia... It's the tip-top of beautiful Cadillac Mountain.
From its base to summit, Mount Cadillac is only 466 meters (1,528ft.) tall, but it's just enough to provide a staggering morning view over Maine's rocky, island-spotted coastline. For visitors to the northeastern park, a popular activity is taking one of the few trails that leads to the top well before the sun comes up to watch the "first sunrise" of the continental US. (Cadillac Mountain earns that distinction during the fall and winter months.)
First sunrise honors or not, I personally dub Mount Cadillac the "most colorful" sunrise based on the incredible progression from black, dark blue, pink, green, red, orange, maybe even magenta, and a whole cartridge of other colors I'd never even knew existed before, all in one morning.
Call me a sucker for pretty things (because I am) but the Cadillac Mountain experience is something that cannot be missed while in Acadia National Park; even if it means waking up say, at 4:30am. And this is the exact argument I give my groups; after I convince them the morning hike is worth it and they will be rewarded with an amazing hot breakfast, they give me begrudging looks, carrying flashlights and yawning as we search for painted markers in the blackness. After around two hours of climbing over smooth-stone surfaces we reach the top and watch the psychedelic sky, already receiving the reward.
And for those people who snort and say "in your dreams" to the morning hike, I offer to drive them up the park road that leads directly to the Mount Cadillac viewpoint (although in my opinion it cuts out half the fun and half the amazing breakfast). With its most colorful award, another reason Mount Cadillac is the destination I look forward to seeing again each season is the simple fact that each sunrise is different. Depending on where the morning clouds are, if there's a lot of sea fog or no sea fog, changes the entire light spectrum and is what encourages photographers, tourists and locals alike to get out of bed and get a glimpse of morning glory.
As a Trek Leader, I wake up early nearly every day. I was positive I saw the sun's cycle for at least two straight months the previous season and so I consider myself somewhat of an expert in North American sunrises. In all this land, all 3,794,000 square miles, sometimes the first is the best.
If you fancy an early morning to see some fantastic vistas and experience the beauty of the sun rising on what is no doubt going to be an awesome day, then join us on our Canadian Pioneer trip, a 14 day trip through six states and two Canadian provinces.