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.




Back in 1853 there was no Acadia National Park here, and the town of Bar Harbor back than was called Eden.  But even back than locals made their way to the precipice on the side of Champlain Mountain, and made their way up to a popular spot on the side of the Precipice known as The Great Cave.  The cave was a popular picnic site.  In those days Champlain Mountain was named Newport Mountain.

The Precipice - Acadia National Park

Now if you have read about this tragic accident on here in the past, you will now find new information which I recently came upon from a man who is recalling the tragic accident 5o years later.  For the first time missing gaps have now been filled in on this story.
The date was Aug. 3, 1853  and wild blueberries were ripe for the picking.  The men and boys that day took off to do some fishing, and the women and girls decided to hike over in the direction of Newport (now named Champlain) Mountain to do some blueberry picking.  Two of the young girls in the group that day were Lucreatia K. Douglas, who was just shy of being 12 years old,  and Almira Conners, who were neighbors with Conners living  in the Zack Bijar Higgins house at Cromwell Harbor, not far from where the George B. Dorr estate was, and Miss Douglass living in the old house which was on the spot in which Gardiner Sherman first built his house.  Once up the side of Newport Mountain, the group had a picnic and than continued to look for blueberries.  The main group than started back down the mountain side, but the two girls remained behind, saying they wanted to continue to look for more blueberries.  At some point the two girls made their way close to the edge of a cliff, one account says  Lucreatia stepped upon a large boulder to see if she could see a relatives farmhouse below on Schooner Head Road, when  12 year old Almira Conners  climbed up on the boulder as well, and the huge boulder suddenly gave way.
The other account is that both girls spotted a patch of blueberries and raced toward them, not realizing just how close to the edge of the cliff they were, and both girls fell over the cliff.  It was a tragic accident regardless of which version took place, but I believe the first version might be correct, because a huge boulder was found on top of  Lucreatia K. Douglas body and had to be removed in order to get her body down off the mountain.
When I first  read of this accident it stated the other girl had been thrown off to the side with minor injures, but in this man's memory, he writes that while   Lucreatia had been crushed by a large boulder at the bottom of the cliff, a large tree spared the life of   Almira Conners , its branches catching her.  She did end up with a broken arm and a number of cuts and bruises and lay caught up in the tree top all that evening and night.
The following day, a farmer was out preparing to mow hay when he heard far off cries and went to investigate.  He was shocked when he arrived at the location and saw the figure of a young girl caught high up in the trees branches and went for help.

Lucreatia K. Douglass
For many years as I found out more and more about this accident on Newport Mountain, I had always thought the accident took place at the Great Cave or very close to it.  And books and articles talk about only one spot on the side of Newport Mountain where people went to for picnics, and that is the Great Cave.  And on an old map I came across once there was an X marked just above the Great Cave and stated, "Where the young girl fell to her death'"

Map of The Precipice - Acadia Nation al Park
The man recounts how the women returned back to compass Harbor, believing the two girls would soon show up.  As evening came on, than darkness, a search party was rounded up and headed out toward the area of the great Cave, but using touches, they were not able to find the girls.  They returned home and were about to go out the following morning when word reached them of the tragedy.                                          
The family of Lucreatia was poor and could not afford to purchase a headstone for their daughter, who lay in an unmarked grave for years between two churches along mount Desert Street in Bar Harbor Maine.  It was said that the family did go up near the spot where their daughter had died and placed a small wooden cross at the location.
In all the deaths in Acadia National Park that have taken place on the Precipice, this one is perhaps the safest for me, simply because the victim was only 12 years old, which also makes her the youngest person to have fallen to their death off the Precipice.
Lucreatia's brother did return back to town some years later and purchased a headstone for his sister, and the headstone tells part of the story of his sister's death.  That headstone is located between two churches in a tiny graveyard almost across the street from the Jesup Library on Mount Desert Street.



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 the Precipice, 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

Map of The Great Cave - Acadia National Park
Other supporting trails he built was the Orange and Black Trail, The Beehive trail, the Murry Lane Path, and the red Trail, today renamed the Schooner Head Trail.  But he still needed a main attraction, and thus he seeked permission and got it to construct a loop trail up to the Great Cave.  The Great Cave loop began around the same area where the Orange and black trail connect to the Precipice Trail today.  It follows a boulder field upward toward the woods, and just inside the woods the well worn Trail continues up to the entrance of the Great Cave.
Great Cave Steps, submitted by Nick Thorndike

Off to one side of the cave, and you do have to look for it, is a hidden stairway leading up above the cave, where it comes to cliffs.  There is a metal bridge and iron hand rails to help you along the narrow cliffs, and the loop ends at the base of where the Ladders begin up the official precipice Trail.
It was David Schortmann who went out and located and documented the Great Cave, he had found half of the missing Great Cave Loop, and I wrote how we now need some one to locate the other half of the loop.  Not long after I was contacted by Nick Thorndike, who had discovered the nearly hidden stairway and send me a photo of it.  So we now had the complete Great Cave Trail documented.  The finishing touch came when I got an email from Zhanna Galas who went up and got us the GPS numbers for the site.

The Great Cave - Acadia National Park
  As you can see, like minded adventurers play a key role in uncovering some of these abandoned trails, and for them we are very thankful, because without their efforts some of these trails would remain lost to this day.  Not in this book nor on the website do we name everyone because for various reasons some do not want their name made public, so rather we know their names or not, we own them a big thank you.

The above photo was submitted to one of my sites on the Great Cave by David Schortmann.
Rudolph Brunnow was a master trail builder, as anyone who has climbed or walked his trails will attest to. 
But he never could of seen the day coming, long after his death, that the Park Service would take aggressive moves and close down some of his greatest works.  The Great Cave Loop trail was abandoned, as was a nearby other trail he constructed.  Nearly half the Orange and black trail was also abandoned and the Schooner Head road red trail was also abandoned.  Rudolph Brunnow had plans to extend the red Trail from Schooner head up to the area of sand beach, to connect it to the Ocean shore path - for whatever reason those plans never came to be.

The above photo was submitted to one of my sites on the Great Cave by David Schortmann.
In an old book at the COA I came across a piece on the Great cave, way back when I first began to search for its location.  It stated the Great cave was one of the worlds great wonders, and that the mouth of the cave was 100 feet high and 100 feet wide, and ran about 100 feet back into the mountain side.  The piece went on to say the cave was so large one could fit a plane inside it, which if true would really make for a really Great cave.  Perhaps one could fit a plane inside the Great cave, providing one carried it up there in pieces.  Not to say that the cave isn't great, because everyone who has been to it agree, it is indeed a Great cave and worth the hike.
It is worth noting that even though the Great cave no longer appears on trail maps, it is still very much there.  As trails are abandoned, the park service asks map makers to remove them from future maps, thus todays maps do not show abandoned sites like the Great Cave, Anemone Cave, The Bear's Den, the Hanging Steps, the Gurnee trail and other abandoned sites.

GPS for The Great Cave
Talus Slope along Precipice Trail
44.349697 - 68.189670
Split with Official Precipice Trail
44.349656 - 68.189792
First Sign of Trail in woods
44.349473 - 68.190019
Stone Steps to Cave
44.349164 - 68.190296
The great Cave
44.349101 - 68.190362
(supplied by Zhanna Galas)

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.


Most people who visit Mount Desert Island or Acadia National Park may of never heard of Compass Harbor, and in part the Park Service is to blame for that - since compass Harbor has no markings or signs to help you locate it.  Even with the map I provide, you will still need to really be looking for that tiny parking lot. If you drove to the point where you see Schooner Head Road or Jackson Lab, you have passed it.

Abandoned Trails of Acadia - Compass Harbor

Compass Harbor was the place where Old Farm once stood - it's remains are still there to this day.  And if you don't know what Old Farm was - it was the George B. Dorr estate - the founder of Acadia National Park.  The area around compass Harbor has many signs from back in the days when Mr. Dorr walked his grounds.  By the side of the harbor is the remains of an old salt water pool where people once went swimming.  Along the shore is a set of Granite steps Dorr himself once used to access the water.  In the surrounding woods are several places where there are stone structures and just beyond where old Farm once stood is another foundation, over grown with brush, where the servants quarters once stood.

Paths lead to two beaches, and the one to the far right is where local kids go on a hot summer day to swim.   teens and young adults also come in here at late evening, often with guitars and drums, and party on the beach. At one point there is a very long series of granite steps that seem to go on forever through the tree's and up the hill side, they end at the remains of Old Farm.  I am pretty certain there was once a full foundation - but it appears to have been filled in with dirt, but the stone floors are all there, along with some sections of stone walls.  Years ago George B. dorr would of had a commanding view of Compass Harbor below.