Posts tagged ‘national parks’

October 8, 2013

Don’t Let the Government Shutdown Spoil Your Trip to Acadia National Park

Acadia Mountain national park

The government shutdown has not impeded access to Acadia Mountain, but hikers should exercise caution

The government closure of national parks, effective October 1, 2013, has affected thousands of visitors looking forward to seeing Acadia National Park this fall.  With National Park webpages also shutdown, official information is limited.  However, local experts have stepped in to share the latest information on such social media sites as TripAdvisor, where postings under “Contingency Plans” in the Bar Harbor forum are filling the gaps for worried travelers.

The Park Loop Road has been closed, thereby barring roadway access to such popular attractions as Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond House. The Hulls Cove Visitors Center is also closed.

That’s the bad news.  On the other hand, the Island Explorer bus system is running and ferrying visitors throughout the island.  In addition, as Acadia National Park Deputy Superintendent Len Bobinchock told the Portland Press Herald, “You can’t lock up trails, but you can close the roads that lead into the park.”  Because skeletal crews are not adequate to handle extensive search and rescue operations in the case of emergencies, the National Park Service is asking people to stay off the park’s trails until the shutdown is over.  However, they are not requiring people to leave, it seems.  If you do decide to hike, exercise good judgment.

Acadia National Park occupies only about one half of Mount Desert Island.  The sublime beauty of this area far surpasses any single mountain or pond, and a government closure of the national park won’t lock you out of enjoying a trip to Downeast Maine.

Here are 7 ways you can enjoy Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, despite Congress.

  1. Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain.  And, in fact, with no tourist buses circumnavigating the top, the summit may be just that much more peaceful.  There are trails from all four points of the compass, but the easiest to access during the closure is to the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, a long, but gradual climb 3.7 miles each way.  The trailhead is on Route 3, just south of the entrance to Blackwoods Campground.  It is a lovely hike, with spectacular views, just be prepared for the 7.4 miles of hiking and remember, of course, that you are hiking at your own risk.
  2. Choose another mountain to climb.  If you are not up for such a long hike, there are many other alternatives.  Consider Acadia Mountain, with its great views of Somes Sound and the Atlantic beyond.  Its trailhead is on Route 102 between Somesville and Southwest Harbor.  A moderate loop including both Acadia and neighboring St. Sauveur Mountain is 4.2 miles.  Another great choice is Beech Mountain.  There are also several different trails to its summit—none of which is affected by park closures.  Tom St. Germain’s excellent hiking guide, available in bookstores throughout Bar Harbor, can provide you with all of the details.
  3. Bike around Eagle Lake.  The carriage roads around the lake are just off Eagle Lake Road/Route 233.  According to the TripAdvisor posts on October 1st, cars were lined up along the roadway, indicating that the carriage roads were still open.  These carriage roads connect to others in the network, including the road that runs closely along Bubble Pond, with Cadillac Pond towering above.  The reflections of the colorful foliage of the West Face on Bubble Pond are compelling for any photographer.  Walking around Eagle Lake is also a good option. 
  4. Go sea kayaking.  “They can’t control the water, so we’ll still be open” was the message of Mark Fletcher at Aquaterra Adventures in Bar Harbor.  This operator of group kayaking tours launches from a private dock on West Street, so there’s no need to worry about park closures.  Another option is National Park Sea Kayak, also in Bar Harbor, which leads tours on the western side of Mount Desert Island, including popular sunset trips. 
  5. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride.  Although the national park concession at Wildwood Stables will be closed, you can enjoy a carriage ride throughout Bar Harbor with Wild Iris Horse Farm.  The driver discusses points of interest, as well as the history of the town.  Says owner Sandi Read, “It’s a great way to experience Bar Harbor the way it was before the days of automobiles.”
  6. Visit Bass Harbor.  Although the roadway to Bass Harbor Head Light has been barricaded, you can walk a short distance to see this lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Then drive the short distance down to the harbor.  A stroll around this working lobster harbor in late afternoon is full of charms.  Walk along the shoreline and down on the pier.  Whether it’s a skiff, a pile of lobster traps, some worn-out buoys, or a Boston whaler, the scene is iconic Maine and stunningly beautiful in late-afternoon golden light.  Don’t forget your camera.
  7. Enjoy Mount Desert Island’s villages.  From Bar Harbor to Bass Harbor and Northeast Harbor to Southwest Harbor, each has its own personality.  Don’t miss Somesville, in the center of the island, with its charming Japanese-style bridge, one of the most photographed spots in Maine. 

You’ll find more tips for fall trips to Acadia here.  Have a great vacation!

Related Stories:

A Profile of Mount Desert Island’s Villages

Lighthouses and Lobster Boats on a Sunset Sail from Southwest Harbor

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast

October 4, 2009

How a National Park in Maine Turned Me into a Compulsive Blogger

IMG_1124This week the Ken Burns’ series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, on PBS brought the history of our national parks to life by presenting it through the stories of individuals.  From John Muir to a childless couple from Lincoln, Nebraska, they told us about the importance of natural beauty in their lives.

My first encounter with Acadia National Park in Maine was on a carriage-driving trip.  A New York City executive, I was in the midst of a divorce, when my sister, an independent-minded horsewoman from New Hampshire, invited me to join her and some other women in Maine. They loaded their carriages and horses into trailers and a bag or two into their pick-up trucks, and off we went. 

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. would have applauded such an introduction to Acadia.  Between 1913 and 1940 he developed a system of roads and bridges that traversed meadows and brooks and encircled mountains.  It was his vision that Acadia National Park should be seen behind a horse.  Today, the 57 miles of carriage roads he constructed are used by cyclists and hikers, as well as carriage drivers. 

While the New Hampshire ladies drove their carriages and groomed their ponies, I hiked around Jordan Pond.  We convened to have lemonade and popovers on a lawn that has hosted tea for visitors since 1896.  In the evenings we dined together at our host’s cottage on Southwest Harbor and congregated at the best local lobster pounds

Here I found the unique place where the mountains meet the sea. 

Acadia National Park, located on Mount Desert Island, has 24 mountains, the highest mountain on the eastern seaboard, the only fiord in North America, glacial lakes, boreal forests, and 130 miles of hiking trails to see all of it. 

I was smitten.  It was time to go home, but an irrational passion for the place had overtaken me. 

George Dorr first went to Mount Desert Island in 1868.  Educated in Europe, he traveled extensively there, but chose to reside on Mount Desert Island.  Although he had inherited an extraordinary fortune, he spent his time hiking, biking, swimming and building trails. When he died at age 94, he had spent his entire fortune purchasing land for Acadia National Park.  

When I got back into my NYC routine, I still wanted to talk about the peregrines nesting on the Precipice.  People at work wanted to talk about Alex Rodriguez.  I was thinking about hiking the Western Mountains vs. Penobscot Mountain.  They were thinking about Gossip Girl vs. NYC Prep. 

So, I started blogging.  When is the best time to visit Acadia National Park? Where should you go sea kayaking?  Which hikes are best for kids?  I pulled it together in a Web site about OUR ACADIA – our national park on one of the world’s most beautiful islands. 

This is the power of the places that have been preserved by the National Park System.  

Yet even within this exclusive set, Acadia National Park is unique because it is the only national park in which most of the land was privately purchased and then donated to a land trust that became the park.  That, in particular, tells the story of how Mount Desert Island has captivated people, who then preserved it as a national park for us all.  

I need to pay bills.  There’s a report I should look at.  My daughter needs me to help her with her new laptop.  And I’m thinking that my next post will be about LEAVE NO TRACE and other tips for hiking in Acadia National Park.