Tuesday, December 23, 2014


This is my first ebook on the Abandoned trails of Acadia National Park and is what will be the first of two books. 

Click  HERE for free download

Monday, December 8, 2014


Dorr mountain is a very popular mountain to hike, but what many hikers don't know is just around the corner from the main hiking trail is the Homans Trail.  The trail was a bit of a mystery from the start - it was built to climb high up the side of dorr mountain, using stone steps for most of the way, and it suddenly ends.  Some named it The Stairway To Nowhere.   and after the great fire, when the park service began abandoning many of the popular hiking trails in the park, the Homans trail also was abandoned.  Over the years it became the forgotten trail, until it was re-discovered in recent years and reopened.

The Homans Trail - Acadia National Park

If your going to hike Dorr Mountain - hike this path, and bring along a camera.  But before you can hike the Homans trail, you first have to find it.  Like I said, it has now been reopened, but the trail head could not be in a worse spot. To locate the Homans trail, you need to drive to the Sieur de Monts Spring parking lot, where the Wild Gardens of Acadia National Park and the Nature Center are also located.  You can reach that area three ways, off of route 3 as your heading toward Otter creek, or along the One Way section of the Park Loop road, signs let you know when your there.

Homans Trail - Acadia National Park

The other way to get there is by catching one of the Island Explorer free buses from the Bar Harbor village Green.  You want to board the Sand Beach Bus - Sieur de Monts is one of its stops.
Once at the parking lot, go to the far end of the parking lot, to the right - where you will find a fire road with a gate across it.  Follow the fire road until you come to a four way intersection, there will be a trail to the right that's a boardwalk running through the woods.  Keep going straight, about a car length or two, and you will see the trail head sign for the Homans Trail.

View from Homans Trail - Acadia National Park

The trail curves through the woods a short ways before coming to the first steps.  After a short ways the trail comes to a cool spot where one has to bend low and pass through a hole in the granite - make sure not to bump your head as your passing through it.  On the other side the trail turns to the left and begins its climb up the mountain side using stone steps.
Soon you come to the next amazing spot on the trail, a very narrow passage that passes between two huge walls of granite.  By itself that would be neat, but when the trail was built, George B. Dorr, the founder of Acadia National Park, had work crews place a huge section of granite over the top of this narrow passage, and you almost feel like your passing through a cave.

Dorr Mountain Trail - Acadia National Park

Stone steps continue to rise upward until you reach the place where the trail use to end.  There are some fantastic views along this path, but the best view is still up ahead.
I believe the park service has added a connector path from this to the most popular trail up dorr mountain, but if not, everyone follows a worn path to the left, just a short ways to the more popular path. 
Once on the main dorr Mountain path, continue onward to the summit, which is still some distance away.

Dorr Mountain Trail - Acadia National Park

Where that worn path meets the other trail, that is where you get an amazing view and you want a camera with you.

Homans Trail - Acadia National Park

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


One of the Gate Houses in Acadia National Park is missing - have you seen it?  Actually, the missing Gate house is missing for a very good reason - it never got built.   The Rockefeller's owned the land by Eagle Lake and it was their intention to build a third Gate House there, this one would include stables and a saddle station.  But the lake was the source of the town's drinking water and they refused to grant a building permit for the third gate house.
Pictured is the Jordan  Pond gate house.

Jordan Pond Gatehouse -
Acadia National Park

Had the third Gate House been built, we can only imagine how beautiful it would of looked with the lake as a backdrop.
By the way, if you want to take a tour of the inside of one of the two Gate Houses, check with the park - once or twice a year the Jordan Pond Gate House if open to the public. 

Monday, December 1, 2014


I got lucky, my brother in law collects old stuff on Maine Trains and was going through his collection when he came across something he thought I might be interested in.  Thought I would share it.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Once upon a time, as the children's story goes, "There was a little train that could."  Well, in the 1800's there was just such a train, and it was called the Green Mountain Railway.  It was a small cog train that ran from one end of Eagle Lake up to the summit of green Mountain- renamed later to Cadillac Mountain.  The company would go bankrupt and the rails and tracks were torn up and sold, but the railroad spikes had to remain in place because they had been driven so deep into the granite of Cadillac Mountain they could not be removed.  And though accounts state all of the rail was removed, this is not the case, one sole section of rail remains in place on the side of Cadillac Mountain.  The path the train took remained very popular with hikers for many years after that, until it was abandoned by the park.
Cadillac Mountain - Green Mountain Railroad Path - Acadia National Park

The Green Mountain Railroad - Acadia National Park

  It took me a few years of searching for it off and on, and one afternoon we ended up tripping over a railroad spike in the brush.  That's how I located it, anyways.  One big problem was that on Google Books, one account states it knows the location of the lost trail, and than goes on to give the wrong  information. 
Once the railroad company went out of business, and all but one section of rail was removed, people still  hiked along the train route to reach the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  It was treated for many years there after as if it had been an official trail.  But over the years the wide path through the woods and up the mountain side slowly began to become overgrown, and partly through park efforts, branches and tree limbs found their way onto the trail, so the once popular hiking route began to fade away.  Amazingly, after all these years of neglect, the trail is still in pretty good condition, marked along much of the route by railroad spikes sticking up out of the granite.  The trail is easiest to locate along the Park loop road, and begins in the woods on a knoll about half way between the Cadillac Summit Road and Bubble Pond.  On a calm day you can hear the rushing waters of a nearby stream.

The Green Mountain Railroad - Acadia National Park

Once in the woods and up the knoll, the path is at an angle to the left, there is usually a tiny rock pile by a railroad spike, and the ground there will be worn down as it leads up into the woods.  There are very few railroad spikes on this end, but there should be a rock pile here and there, and the further you go the more worn the trail becomes.  At a couple places the trail may seem to end, just keep in mind for the most part, the train tracks ran in a straight line, turning direction only once, so if the trail seems to end at a tree or two, simply look on the other side of the tree's, and the trail will be right there.
Now there is one spot o the lower end where there is a section of brush you have to cross, walk straight ahead in the same direction you were walking.  Not far ahead of this section is one of the surprises you will come upon - a section of railroad bed built up along a rising cliff.  Once you get there, the trail is really easy to follow because now more and more railroad spikes can be seen.  It is also at this point the trail begins to get very slippery in places - I suggest you wear something with good footing.  The granite is covered with moss made slippery from over flowing waters from a nearby brook.  The Trail also begins to climb more here.  Up through and under some tree's, and your not far from the next surprise.

The surprise is walking through a line of tree's and suddenly seeing that lovely piece of rail that is still on the mountain side.  At this point everywhere you look you see piles of rusting railroad spikes, the few they did manage to remove, and than simply left behind in small piles.
Here the trail slopes upward some more, and at first the granite appears to be safe to cross - but in all the times I have hiked this trail, this area is more slippery than any before it.    From here the trail enters and exits the woods a few more times, before the granite gives way to dirt, and the trail is very easy to follow without the aid of spikes.  But just when you think things are going to good, the trail suddenly ends by thick brush and woods.  Clearly the brush has grown up over the trail here and it can't be seen again.  At this point your not very far from the Cadillac Mountain Summit road - either walk straight ahead for a short ways until you come to the summit road, or wait until you hear a passing car and walk toward its sound.
Cadillac Mountain Railroad Spikes - Acadia national Park
At this point you can either go right and follow the summit road a short distance to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, or turn and head left down the summit road to the park loop road.  Once at the park loop road, turn left, and head for the second pull over where you parked.

They say the hike is a moderate one, and I would agree, I would also warn anyone attempting it that the trail can be very slippery in places and I know of one hiker who slipped and banged up their knee. 
In days gone by, the train went beyond this point, not much beyond, to where a tavern was located on the summit.

Green Mountain Railroad Trail - Acadia National Park

The bottom section has now also been located, though its no way close as scenic as the upper portion.  It is however well hidden.  We located the beginning point of the lower section by crossing the Park Loop Road and making our way down the embankment directly across from knoll where the upper section begins.  You only need to go down into the brush a short ways not far from that stream to locate a gully, if you follow the gully you will soon discover railroad spikes as you make your way down toward Eagle Lake and its carriage road.   At the start of the gully we found several fallen tree's and branches, but walked around that first section and went down into the gully.  We followed it down hill and came upon a number of places where we found old railroad spikes sticking up out of the granite.  At one point the gully comes closer to a nearby stream and we crossed over to it and found a nice little water fall.  The gully soon ends and from there you can see the eagle Lake carriage road, the lake, and just to the right a wooden bridge on the carriage road.
Sadly we found no evidence of railroad spikes near the lake edge, nor any sign of an old pier, but after searching for a long time, it was nice to finally be able to add the lower section to the upper section of this once very popular hiking trail.




My journey into the wooded land of abandoned trails first began when I heard a local talk about a place called the great Cave.  It was a map of the cave I went over to the COA to try and locate the evening I discovered d just such a map, however another journey leaped up and landed squarely in my lap.  On the old map I had before me was not only a place marked "cave" in the area of the Precipice Trail, above the word cave was an x, and above the x was the words "where the little girl died." 
So I had an old map with the words "Where the little girl died" written on it and an x was placed just above an area known as the Great Cave.    Below the x was the word Cave - was the cave connected to the death of the little girl?  And more  to the point, what was a little girl doing so high up on the Precipice?

The Precipice - Acadia National Park
In an old book I found the answer to some of my questions.  It spoke of two young school girls who had decided one day to hike from Eden, at that time the name of Bar Harbor, and visit a relative's farm located out on the schooner Hear Road.  The year was 1856 when the two 12 year old girls started out that day and neither could foresee that fate was about to deal them a bad hand.  As they neared the relative's farmhouse, the two girls decided to hang a right and head off instead in the direction of the Precipice.
  I later learned from another old piece on this that the surviving girl later told authories that they had decided at the last moment to hike up the mountain side to see if they could see a relavives farmhouse below.  The girl went on to say that her friend, Lucieatia K. Douglas climbed up onto a large boulder for a better view, and that moments later she also climbed up onto the boulder, when it suddenly gave way, tossing her aside with minor injuries and carrying Lucieatia down the mountain side to her death.

Lucreatia K. Douglass
I also learned that the family of the dead girl was poor and they could not afford to place a grave stone on their daughters grave.  The family was said to have taken a small wooden cross to the sport where their daughters body had come to rest and placed the wooden cross on that spot.

Map of The Precipice - Acadia Nation al Park
For a number of years the young girl lay in an unmarked grave in a tiny cemetery located between two churches on Mount Desert Street, almost across from the Jesup Library.  Finally her brother returned to Eden and paid for a grave stone for his sister.  The grave stone is in that cemetery, but depending on when you go there, it can either be upright or knocked over. 
Some have said they believe the young girls ghost haunts the Precipice to this day, stating that if your up on those narrow cliffs in the evening as the fog moves in off the sea, you just may hear footsteps coming up behind you, turn and find no one there, or you may hear something up ahead of you but see no one in sight.  I happen to be a strong believer in that u8nder certain circumstances, the spirit of the dead can haunt an area and the fact that she died so young, and her body lay for so many years in an unmarked grave is enough for me to believe there may be something to this.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014



The story of the Great Cave begins with the building of the Precipice Trail, designed and built by Rudolph Brunnow, a man who was famous for constructing difficult and challenging trails.  When faced with the prospect of constructing a trail up the side of it, he was faced with a real challenge, but one he readily took on.
But once the precipice was constructed, Rudolph Brunnow was faced with perhaps as big of a challenge as the building of the trail itself - how does one attract people to a trail that was on a less popular area of the Park?  The task now facing him was coming up with a way to do just that, and his plan involved building a series of trails in the area of the Precipice.

Acadia National Park Trail Map
 The map above not only shows the loop trail that  Rudolph Brunnow constructed to the Great Cave, it also has listed a second trail he built, the Hanging steps trail.  Below is a close up of the Great cave loop, with an arrow pointing to it.  It was not the main trail, but served its purpose back than to lure more hikers to the Precipice.  Once you enlarge the photo above you can better see the loop trail that Rudolph Brunno's constructed.

Map of The Great Cave - Acadia National Park
If you look at modern maps you will quickly see that the area around the Precipice has but one official trail today, the Orange and Black Trail, also designed and  built by Rudolph Brunnow.  There is a story in and of itself concerning the Orange and Black Trail, but I will get to that in the next piece.  Let's just say for now that the official orange and Black Trail that is there today is only half of what use to be there.
Great Cave Steps, submitted by Nick Thorndike
The problem still facing Rudolph Brunnow was that he didn't need another trail as much as he needed a main attraction, a show piece to drive people into the area, and for that Mr. Brunnow turned his attention to a spot on the side of the Precipice where locals had been hiking up to since the 1800's, a location known as the Great Cave.  He first had to get permission to construct a trail to the cave, once he laid out his plans and the reasons why he needed to add the cave to the main Precipice Trail, he was granted permission to go ahead with the project.

The Great Cave - Acadia National Park
Rudolph Brunnow wasted no time in rolling up his sleeves and getting to work on what must of been a sheer joy, he, Mr. Brunnow, would have his name forever attached to the Great Cave.  He carefully selected the route his newest path would take, leading off of the Precipice trail in an area close to where the official Orange and Black trail joins the Precipice, his path would follow up through the center of a boulder field.  I know, by now you have pulled out your modern trail map of Acadia National Park and can find no such Great Cave, and that is for good reason.  Many years ago - with no real treason behind it, the Park Service closed and abandoned the Great Cave Trail.  When they did so, they asked the map makers to remove it from future maps, so the words Cave or Great Cave can only be found on older maps.

The above photo was submitted to one of my sites on the Great Cave by David Schortmann.

Today, as you stand at the beginning of the boulder field and look upward at the woods above, you can see a dark area, that is where the trail turns into dirt and is fairly easy to see.  It makes its way up through the tree's, ending at the entrance to the Great Cave.   
In an old account of the Great Cave I found in an old book, it states that the Great Cave is right up there with one of the World's great wonders.  It went on to say the opening to the Great Cave was 100 feet wide by 100 feet high and that the cave extended back into the mountain side another 100 feet.  The writer said that the cave was so large a small plane could fit inside it, and that locals made their way up to the cave on weekends carrying a picnic lunch with them.
Clearly the cave is nowhere as magnificent as the writer are told it, he was clearly "Puffing up" his story, but why?  You have to go back to the reason behind building a loop to the cave in the first place - it was to attract a large amount of people to the area of the precipice, and it worked, perhaps too well, because years later the loop was abandoned by the Park Service.
But make no mistake about it, the Great Cave is a very impressive cave, one you have to see in person to gain the full depth of just how Great the Great Cave is.
So I spoke of a loop, and in deed, Mr. Brunnow did construct a loop to the cave.  But where is the other half of the loop?   We all can give a big thank you to Nice Thorndike for uncovering the second half of this lost loop.  Stand to the left of the cave and look toward it, but off to the side to find an almost hidden set of stone steps.  These stone steps go on a ways, leading upward and passing ofer the top of the cave.  When the stone steps end the trail turns to dirt and you can follow it to the cliffs up ahead.  There is a narrow metal bridge which connects one ledge to the next which you have to pass over before the trail connects to the official Precipice trail on the upper end.  Nick's work and the photos he sent along to me helped complete the entire Great Cave Loop.

The above photo was submitted to one of my sites on the Great Cave by David Schortmann.

But the real work of locating the Great Cave took years in the making.  Remember, I had said the Park Service abandoned the Great Cave loop and had it removed from future maps, that is only part of the story.  I have been told by people who have worked for the Park Service that they themselves were told of the Great Cave, along with other secret sites within the Park, but that they had to take an oath not to reveal any of this to anyone.  As far as the Park Service was concerned, these sites were to remain secret and lost indefinitely, to be visited only by a select few.  If you work for the park, or do volunteer work there, chances are you took such an oath and have been taken  to some of these locations.  One Park worker told me a very popular spot that ridge runners go to on their lunch break was the stone arches of Eagle lake, some sites have named this the Lost house and I will get into that location latter on, because that site really earns the name The Lost House.
When I lerarned that the Ridge runners often stop there for their lunch breaks, that really got under my skin.  Why should these abandoned and hidden places within the park be a playground for them and their families, after all, does the park not belong to all of us?  and I was told the same secret oath had to be taken for park workers to be told of the location of the Great Cave.  Today, for a growing number of these hidden gems, there no longer is a need for secret oaths, they are there and documented for anyone to locate.
But because of that secret oath, and because the word "cave" on the old maps was written away from the area that the Great Cave was actually located in, it took years of researching and visits to the area to unravel the mystery.  Over those years I kept updating my blog on any new information I came across, hoping all the while that some one would come along to help in the effort to locate the lost cave.  I had narrowed my search down to two sites, but faced a huge problem, I was afraid of heights, and getting to those two locations required hiking beyond my comfort level.
Zhanna Galas  submitted the GPS numbers for us for which we are very grateful for as it was much needed.  I don't have a GPS device and encourage those who do to please get that information to me, I will give you credit by adding your name to the posting of the numbers.  We really would like GPS numbers for the start of some of these trails, such as the Hanging Steps, Compass Harbor, the Dorr bike path, Anemone Cave, the Bears Den, the lost house of Eagle Lake and the Stone tower...all much needed.  My email is fendermail56@yahoo,com if you can't reach me on here.

Thankfully Matthew Marchon came along and siad he would find the cave.  Wow, an answer to my prayers had come out of nowhere.  The day I heard back from Matt on his finding the cave, I also heard from David Schortmann,  who said he had hiked up into the area and had located the Great Cave.  So we went from one day not knowing its location to the next day having two parties locating it.  And both had the photos to back up their finds, and those photos remain to the best of my knowledge the very first photos made available to the public.  For years I had searched for a photo of the cave and come up empty.  So the real hero's of locating the Great Cave and helping document it was these folks, and Nick Thorndike did sealed the deal.  So as you can see, it was a team effort which yielded  the largest find as far as abandoned trails go, to date.  Without the efforts of these folks the Great cave would still remain a mystery but to a lucky few.

To learn more about the Great cave, visit one of the links below.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014


You will find the words  BEAR DEN on old maps that date back to before Acadia National Park was founded.  Back than Bar harbor was named Eden and the bear cave or den, was a trail the locals liked to hike.  Since there was no park, let alone a park loop road, it took us a while to finally locate the bear cave, and as it turned out, I had passed right by it many times without ever knowing it was right there, tucked in behind the trees.
But it was not me who actually located the den, but my oldest son Wesley, who I had told me and  my youngest son had been out searching for it for some time.  He went out the next day and found it, and got back to me with the information which enabled me to find the site.


To locate the bear cave, drive along the ONE WAY section of the park loop road, like your heading to Sand Beach.  You will pass the turn off for the Wild Gardens of Acadia and the Nature Center, stay on the park loop road and continue driving until you come to a pond on the right hand side of the road - you can't miss it.  Drive pass the pond and park at a pull over on the left and side of the roadway just up ahead.
Now walk down the side of the roadway, on the right hand side of the road, until you reach the end of the ledge, where you can look into the woods.  You will see a large dark shadow in the tree's, this is the opening to the bear cave.  A well worn but unmarked path leads to the opening.