Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Many years ago I came across this old path around what some maps call THE BEAVER POND and other maps call BEAR BROOK POND.  And for years I had always thought I had just stumbled onto another old abandoned hiking trail, not realizing it than just how important this trail once was.

George B. Dorr Bike Path - Acadia National Park

In the days when the Indians were active here on the Island, this section of trail once was a much used section of what was known as Indain Pass.  When George B. Dorr, the founder of Acadia national Park, purchased the land around the pond, he knew it once played a major role in the lives of the Indians, and wanted to incorporate it into his plans for a National Park.

George B. Dorr bike Path - Acadia National Park

Once he owned the land around the pond, he than constructed what would become a very popular bicycle path that ran around the pond and at one point, near the back of the pond, branched out toward the area of where the Nature Center and Wild Gardens of Acadia are located

George B. Dorr Bike Path - Acadia National Park

  He than made roads and foot paths that led to the pond area so others could access and enjoy his newly created bike path, and many did just that.
  The photo above is of the stone steps that lead from the Dorr bike path to the official Bear Brook trail up Champlain Mountain.  From the official trail end the stone steps are nearly impossible to see, in part because the park does its best to conceal their location.  To locate the stone steps from the Dorr bike path, follow the path until a huge section of granite rises upward very close to the path.  You can see where a worn path follows the edge of the granite as well as the first stone steps.  Dorr built the stone steps hoping that it would lead more people to his bike path and the Wild Gardens.
  In my opinion, Dorr had a much better eye for the placement of the Wild Gardens than the Park Service does.  Dorr used Bear Brook Pond and the fantastic views of Chanplain Mountain as a backdrop to the Wild Gardens, compare that breathtaking view to the current view of where the garden now lies and many would agree Dorr had it right.

Bear Brook Picnic Area - Acadia National Park

 The Wild Gardens of Acadia National Park  became one of the major draws to the pond area and George B. Dorr's mother went on to put many hours into the upkeep of the Wild Gardens, and it is said that through her efforts the Wild Gardens of Acadia National park went on to become so popular and well known.
I know what your thinking, the Wild Gardens of Acadia National Park are nowhere near that pond, and your right.  But back than, they were indeed located right next to the pond.  The bigger question is, why were they dug up and relocated?    To be sure - it did not happen while George B. Dorr was alive and what would happen later must of had him turning in his grave.

In fact, one can make the argument that the park service has gone out of its way to erase any foot print of George B. Dorr.  The evidence speaks for itself - his popular bike path - abandoned.  His prized wild Gardens - dug up and relocated.  Compass Harbor, where Dorr's estate sat, has not even a single sign letting you know where it is, and other areas of Indian Pass that Dorr bought up and incorporated into his plans for a future national Park have also been abandoned.    I'm just saying...
  To locate the George B. Dorr bike path, or what's left to it, begin by the start of the Bear Brook trail up Champlain Mountain, on some maps its called the Champlain Mountain North Ridge Trail.  Instead of going up the official trail, instead follow the gully downward along the edge of the Park Loop Road, heading toward the pond.  About two thirds of the way down you will be able to see a well worn path - that is a newer path built after the rising waters of the beaver pond placed much of his path under water.  But that newer path still followed the route George B. Dorr bike path took, but at a slightly higher level, making its way around much of the beaver pond, as did Dorr's path.  Not all of Dorr's original bike path was lost, but in fact only the portion that ran closest to the pond was lost when the waters of the pond rose.   Once you arrive to the back of the pond on the newer path, to the far right corner you can see today where Dorr's bike path exits the water and continues on through the woods, in one place turning right towards the Bear Brook Picnic area, in another it continues on toward Sieur de Mont springs, and in another it moves toward and connects to the Champlain mountain trail.  One path that branches off of the bike path is still visible today, it makes a direct climb yp the hillside, ending high atop Huguenot Head and at one time it was one of only two trails that went to the summit of  Huguenot Head.  Both those trails were abandoned and today only beachcroft trail passes that way, but not to the top, it passes below and around  Huguenot Head..  I have heard that the reason  the park doesn't want trails leading to that area is because an old cave is up there somewhere.

Bear Brook Pond - Acadia National Park

  If you go too close to the lake there is a second path, but it only goes on for a short ways before ending.
Once on the Dorr bike path, if loops around to the back of the pond, ending by two brooks at the far corner of the pond.  The Wild Gardens were once located in that area.


  1. Thank you for your wonderful posts and videos and maps. I miss your posts and hope your foot gets better.

  2. I love discovering the history of the park and the Dorr bike path was a pleasant surprise to find.

  3. You made the same mistake I made 35 years ago when I found this trail. It is not Dorr's Bicycle Path but a trail built by the CCC in the 1930's. The Bicycle Path is at a much lower level. Because the water level of Beaverdam Pool has risen since Dorr created it, much of the Bicycle Path is under water. the secton on the west side can be followed with difficulty. The CCC trail circles the entire basin at the foot of Huguenot Head and leads to Sieur de Monts.

    1. interesting...I had not known that. But it does lead to the rear corner of the pond, where the Wild Gardens were first located. Not sure how much of that would now be under water, but clearly not all of it is since there are a few signs the gardens were once back there. I followed this trail the other day and came out across from one end of the Bear Brook Picnic area. I might be wrong, but I thought I had read that Dorr had a connecting trail from his bike path which lead to the sieur de monts spring area.

  4. He did have a path. It hooks onto the Beechcroft Path.