Acadia National Park visitors face roadblocks to buying pass

Visitors to Acadia National Park are finding it can be hard to get there from here.

acadia national park visitors

A big orange “Road closed ahead” sign, posted at the foot of the steps at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center at Acadia National Park, warns people that the center is inaccessible during renovations.

The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the main venue for selling park passes, could be closed until the end of June while it undergoes $1.2 million in renovations including upgraded restrooms.

Just outside the 1960s-era center, a large electronic sign warns of the closure, possibly discouraging Acadia National Park visitors from turning into the parking lot, where they might see an exhibit that includes information about buying a pass at other locations, a map or park programs. And if visitors do enter the lot, they are greeted at the center steps with a big “Road closed ahead” sign.

On top of Cadillac Mountain, the first stop for many Acadia National Park visitors, the gift shop, which also sells passes, is closed because of ice and snow damage and mildew issues. A sign urges motorists to buy a pass at the gift shop for display in their vehicles, but people walking up to the shop to make the purchase on Monday were turned away by a sign on the door that says “Temporarily closed.”

And along the main state highway that leads to Acadia and Bar Harbor, road construction, detours and one-way traffic are sometimes causing long backups and confusion. The construction, scheduled to be complete by mid-June, prompted at least one recent visitor to get lost in the dark and call the hotel she was registered at for step-by-step directions via cell phone.

cadillac mountain gift shop

A visitor on Monday peers into the window of the closed Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop, which was damaged by snow and ice this winter and also has mildew problems.

Further adding to the potential frustration this spring and summer for Acadia National Park visitors who are unprepared or unaware, in trying to get there from here:

–          New paid parking meter and kiosk system in Bar Harbor, approved by the municipality
–          Culvert replacement and other work on the Park Loop Road and related bridges
–          Intermittent closures on carriage roads for drainage work
–          Maintenance and rehabilitation of Kurt Diederich’s Climb, Cadillac West Face Trail and Valley Cove Trail
–          Random rock stacking or vandalized Bates-style cairn trail markers, which can mislead hikers

Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for the park, wrote in an email that it has been “a challenging year” with the Route 3 detour and the closures of the Cadillac gift shop and the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
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Top 6 Acadia carriage road loop hikes for end of mud season

Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As

acadia carriage roads

Mud season has officially ended in Acadia National Park, now that the carriage roads reopened to pedestrians on April 30. Bicyclists and horses still not allowed as of this writing.

If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our page linking in one place all the Q&As.

My husband, dog and I are hoping to return to Acadia this spring and walk as many carriage trails as we can. I’ve been studying the carriage trail guides and am overwhelmed trying to decide what to do. We’ve already walked the trails near Northeast Harbor but nothing in other parts because it was too busy last September although it was pre-leaf peepers. Can you recommend specific walks of 2 or 3 hours? We prefer loops, if possible. We also would welcome suggestions for relaxing hikes, as opposed to trail walks. Thank you very much. We can’t wait to get back there! – Caroline of Cape Cod

Dear Caroline, springtime in Acadia, after mud season and before Memorial Day, is a perfect time to visit! The carriage roads just reopened to pedestrians on April 30, but not yet to bicyclists or horses as of this writing, so perfect timing there as well.

ask acadia on my mind

Ask Acadia on My Mind!

The much-loved Acadia carriage road system offers 45 miles of well-graded broken stone surface, taking you by 17 unique carriage road bridges (16 of them financed and given to the US government by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.), picturesque ponds, brooks, mountains and even a waterfall.

People as famous as President Barack Obama and his family have bicycled the Acadia carriage road around Witch Hole Pond, near the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, one of the carriage road loop hikes we feature below. And the carriage roads have been the training ground for many a long-distance runner, and offer a winter wonderland for cross-country skiiers and snowshoers.

The carriage roads are great for walking, especially as some of the historic vistas are being restored by the park. The Acadia carriage road loop hikes we suggest include some of these vistas, as well as carriage road bridges and short sections along hiking trails for a little variety.

Below are some interactive Google My Maps and color-coded elevation profiles we created just for you, Caroline, for Acadia carriage road loop hikes of between 3 to 6 miles, which should just about take 2 to 3 hours.

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Car reservation system approved for Acadia traffic control

Acadia National Park is calling for some sweeping changes to relieve traffic congestion including approval of a timed reservation system at a fee of likely less than $10 for cars on Cadillac Mountain, the north lot of Jordan Pond and the Ocean Drive corridor.

acadia traffic

A timed reservation system for cars is the conclusion of the final transportation plan to manage Acadia traffic. (Image courtesy of NPS)

The plan also says that right lane parking on the Park Loop Road will be initially retained, but eventually eliminated as other options and parking become available for Acadia traffic. A park spokeswoman said earlier this year that the reservation system would start in 2020 at the earliest.

Reservations for Acadia traffic would be needed during  the peak season of the middle of June to the middle of October. The proposed fee for a reservation, which includes possible discounts for frequent visitors to the lots, would be in addition to the visitor pass.

The park says the timed reservation system and other changes would improve visitor experience and access and create longterm benefits for the local and regional tourism industry. The plan comes after park rangers closed the summit road to Cadillac Mountain 54 times last year and at least 49 times in 2017 because of traffic congestion and visits to Acadia jumped to more than 3.52 million last year, up about 60% from 2007.

The park today unveiled a 265-page final environmental impact statement on the plan, following a draft released last April.

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Acadia traffic closed Cadillac summit road 54 times in 2018

Acadia National Park rangers in 2018 closed the summit road to Cadillac Mountain to incoming vehicles 54 times because of traffic congestion, possibly accenting the need for a reservation system to park at the peak.

Acadia National Park ranger blocks traffic during a closure of the Cadillac Mountain summit road due to heavy traffic.

An electronic sign flashes “Cadillac Summit Closed,” while an Acadia National Park ranger stops traffic from going up the peak during Labor Day weekend in 2018.

The 54 closures at Cadillac occurred between June 26 and Oct. 24. The closures came as the number of visitors to Acadia in 2018 jumped to  3.52 million through November, exceeding in 11 months the 3.509 million for all of 2017, according to National Park Service statistics.

Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist at Acadia National Park, said the park tracks the closures as best as possible and dispatchers record the closures on an Excel spreadsheet, but the numbers may not always be precise.

The summit road to Cadillac was recorded to be closed to incoming Acadia traffic about 70 times in 2017, she said.

“We can safely say that Cadillac Summit Road is the area that regularly experiences congestion, and has for a while,” she said. “But when we are able to close it for safety reasons, we do.”

The length of the closures varies from about 15 to 90 minutes, she said.

acadia traffic

Scenes like this have become all too common near the top of Cadillac as more than 3 million visitors a year come to Acadia. (NPS photo)

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Federal government shutdown slows Acadia in winter

UPDATE 1/28/2019:  David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia, issued a statement that was added to this story.

An agreement to end the partial federal government shutdown came just in time for visitors and year-round staff at Acadia National Park in Maine.

Winter visitor center for Acadia Natioal Park

The end of the partial federal shutdown means the winter visitor center for Acadia National Park at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce office will be staffed again by rangers.

While the park was kept open during the 35-day-long shutdown and the closure came at the slowest time of year for the park and had little economic effect on surrounding communities, almost all of the park’s 80-90 full-time staff, including Superintendent Kevin Schneider, were put on furlough. Additionally, the shutdown during Acadia in winter delayed work on a critical transportation plan years in the making.

David MacDonald, president and CEO of the Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit organization that works closely with the National Park Service to protect and improve the park for public use, said the shutdown created “a terrible situation” for park staff. It resulted in “a very significant operations backlog” at Acadia, the country’s eighth-most visited national park, and basically left a small number of law enforcement rangers to run the park and work without pay over the holidays, he said.

“I think it’s been devastating for park staff,” MacDonald said in an article that was first published in the National Parks Traveler. “There are a lot of important professionals in various departments across the park that have been kept on the sidelines at a very important time of year for planning for Acadia.”

President Donald Trump on Friday agreed to a measure that would fund the government for three weeks and clear employees in Interior and dozens of other agencies to again work, with no provisions to pay for the wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico. Trump left open the possibility the government could shut again as of Feb. 15.

Ice covers the granite cliffs on Cadillac. summit road.

Huge sheets of Ice cover the granite cliffs along the summit road to Cadillac Mountain during Acadia in winter.

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Maine virtual race helps make friends, new year resolutions

Starting 2019 with a bang, nearly 100 walkers and runners from Bar Harbor to Millinocket, Florida to Oregon, are virtually logging miles from Cadillac to Katahdin, and even going by Stephen King sites along the way – to do good, stay fit, and keep up with old friends and make new ones.

maine virtual race

The 5-star version of the 2019 edition of the Acadia to Katahdin Medal, if you log at least 1 mile a day for 100 days in a row. Only did 20 days in a row? That’s OK, you get one small star for each 20-day streak, and the large sequined star for the fifth consecutive 20-day streak. Took the first few days of 2019 off? That’s OK, too, since we can extend the virtual race, so you can still get in 100 days if you start this weekend.

And if over the first 100 days of the new year, participants in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race get a streak going, they earn the right to a custom medal, featuring a star for each 20-day streak, plus a large sequined star for logging at least 1 mile daily all 100 days, for a maximum 5 stars. Register for the Maine virtual race now.

Launched last year with Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half as the virtual edition of the Sea to Summit Series, the virtual race has so far raised $375 for charity, on top of the $800 raised in an earlier edition of the race.

But perhaps as meaningful as benefiting charity, the virtual race has led one participant to lose 21 pounds (@LRM); helped a couple of racers keep a more than year-long streak going (@Shellperry and @KDW); allowed fans of the Acadia and Katahdin regions to see photos of the places they love in the race course’s Google Street Views; and let family and friends stay in touch, no matter where in the world they log their miles.

In 2018, we learned who among the virtual racers are Stephen King fans, thanks to @Ghost, who challenged other racers to dedicate a 10+ mile entry to an SK story. We met virtual racers, some for the first time, on the day of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races and throughout the year, logging some miles together on a small remote island or sharing a cup of good cheer at the Sawmill Restaurant in Millinocket.

virtual race with medal

The Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race has been extended through at least April 10, 2019, the 100th day of the new year, to help you meet new year resolutions. Sign up now. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

And we had fun with a Team #lobster vs. Team #moose challenge, along with custom #lobstrosity and #MonsterMoose medals for those who logged 10 or more miles in one day; playing mini-golf at a Millinocket Memorial Library fundraiser that featured Stephen King books lining the “fairway”; and giving away gift certificates from SK-Tours, Moose Drop In, Gift MDI and L.L. Bean. (See sidebar for coupon code for 10% off Gift MDI, one of our affiliated partners)

For 2019, may the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race help you keep your new year resolutions, whether it’s to train for a marathon or a trip to hike Acadia National Park or Baxter State Park, lose weight, get fit, or stay in touch with family and friends, no matter where in the world they are. Even if you don’t make a 20-day streak for a star, and even if you haven’t completed the 337.8-mile virtual race course, everyone is a winner, as medals will ship after April 10.

The continuation into the first 100 days of the new year makes this the virtual edition of 2019 Streak-100, co-sponsored with Crow Athletics, with special pricing for Crow members signing up for the first time, as well as for those who participated in the real-life MDI or Millinocket races.  Sign up here.

maine virtual race

Members of Crow Athletics can join Streak-100 and add on at a special price the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, featuring a 2019 medal with up to 5 stars for each 20-day streak of walking or running at least 1 mile a day. (Image courtesy of crowathletics.com)

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Spirits of Acadia, Stephen King, Millinocket alive in this race

katahdin

With the words “Katahdin is ready for you,” the Millinocket Marathon & Half greeted racers with this photo of the Golden Road this morning. (Photo courtesy of Millinocket Marathon & Half)

MILLINOCKET – All roads lead to the Magic City today for the running of the Millinocket Marathon & Half, in real life from all corners of Maine to Maryland and beyond, and virtually, from Florida to Oregon.

More than 2,000 runners from around the world have descended in real life to run in frigid temperatures for 13.1 or 26.2 miles, to give a much-needed boost to this old mill town that has fallen on hard economic times, just before Christmas.

And the spirits of Acadia, Stephen King and virtual racers from around the country have gathered here as well, like a benevolent dome, with the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race helping to raise funds for the Millinocket Memorial Library, Our Katahdin and the Friends of Acadia.

The real-life race, only in its fourth year, has become a magnet to Millinocket in the dead of almost-winter, the brainchild of  Gary Allen, the Maine Running Hall of Fame director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half, who started the free race to help out a struggling town. He likens the impact of the races he’s launched as “a pebble tossed into still water,” with ever-widening rings of positive influence and inspiration.

The Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, which includes the real-life Millinocket and MDI courses, allows real-life Millinocket runners to make their miles count twice, with the virtual award ceremony happening at the Sawmill Bar and Grill today between 5:30 and 7 p.m today. You can register in the virtual race as late as today, backdate miles to July 20, and keep logging miles until Dec. 31: racery.com/r/acadia-to-katahdin-sea-to-summit-virtual-edition/#about

If you can’t make the Sawmill, see the other places where the virtual race medals can be picked up in Millinocket today, in the highlights below.

virtual race

A recent line-up of racers meeting in Millinocket virtually, during the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race. Register now at www.runmdi.org/virtual-edition and you can backate your miles to July 20, count your Millinocket miles twice, and keep logging miles until Dec. 31. (Image courtesy of Racery.com)

More photos and stories from the real-life and virtual races to come, along with an explanation of the Stephen King theme for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race. Proud to co-sponsor the virtual race with the Millinocket and MDI races, to help benefit charity.

Time for this blogger (and virtual racer @AOMM) to get ready for the frozen 13.1 miles, and be warmed by the spirits of Millinocket.

Team Lobster vs. Moose in virtual Millinocket, MDI marathon

In a showdown promising to be more fabled than that of the tortoise and the hare, Team Lobster vs. Team Moose face off starting today, in a virtual Mount Desert Island and Millinocket marathon to help benefit charity. May the best animal win!

mdi marathon

Team Lobster or Team Moose? 26.2 miles or 13.1 between now and Oct. 14? You choose your personal challenge as part of the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race to help raise funds for Acadia and Millinocket-area charities.

You can join in on the fun by signing up now for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race. Pick the side you want to be on – Team Lobster or Team Moose – and choose the number of miles you aim to run, hike or walk between now and Oct. 14, anywhere in the world.

Declare your team and personal mileage goal in your Oct. 1 virtual race log (you can backdate your entries as far back as July 20), with one of the following comments:

  • #lobster Virtual MDI 26.2
  • #moose Virtual Millinocket 26.2

If you can’t commit to a marathon length of 26.2 miles in 2 weeks, then use the number 13.1 for a half marathon – or whatever number you feel will be a stretch but within reach. If you’re signed up for the real-life MDI Marathon & Half on Oct. 14, you can count those miles too.

Leading up Team Lobster is the legendary Gary Allen, who’s being inducted this year into the Maine Running Hall of Fame, along with the MDI Marathon that he founded. And heading up Team Moose is the epic Tricia Cyr, who manages Moose Drop In, official partner of the Millinocket Marathon & Half, which Allen also founded.

We’re proud to have them serve as honorary coaches. We as virtual race director will do all the virtual cheerleading, tally up the #lobster vs. #moose miles over those 2 weeks, and announce the team with bragging rights at the end. You can check how your team is doing by going to the Facebook group page for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race.

virtual race with medal

Sign up now for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, to help raise funds for charity, and earn some bling! You can backdate miles to July 20, but only the miles between Oct. 1 and Oct. 14 count toward the Team Lobster vs. Team Moose competition. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

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Virtual race links 26 Acadia peaks, Magic City, Stephen King

On your marks! A new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race is open now, to help raise funds for charity, connect fans of Acadia National Park hiking, Millinocket and Stephen King, and jumpstart training for real-life runners, hikers and fitness walkers.

virtual race with medal

Sign up now for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, to help raise funds for charity, and earn some bling! While the real-life tree on Sargent Drive on MDI lost some of its limbs this year, it lives on virtually. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

Participants can earn a medal or two for logging their running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world, and see their avatar move on the virtual race map from the top of Cadillac, along the real-life Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon routes, to the top of Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine. Register now.

New this year, the virtual race route includes:

  • the 26 peaks of Acadia
  • Schoodic, the mainland part of Acadia
  • part of the Down East Sunrise Trail and East Coast Greenway
  • Google Street Views of the offices of the 3 charities being supported by this race – Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library and Our Katahdin
  • and at least 6 sites connected to the King of Horror, including a hiking trail in Acadia featured in the movie “Pet Sematary”

And to make it even more fun this year, aside from earning a virtual race medal or two, participants will be automatically entered in a giveaway of $25 gift certificates from:

virtual runs

The medal for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race features a raised profile of the Bubbles and Katahdin. (Image courtesy of Ashworth Awards)

  • Gift MDI, an online seller of gift cards to Mount Desert Island businesses
  • Moose Drop In, a Millinocket gift shop that specializes in custom T-shirts and handmade gifts
  • SK-Tours of Maine, which offers private narrated tours of Stephen King sites and sells T-shirts
  • or a copy of our Hiking Acadia National Park guide, which won both the National Outdoor Book Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award

And anyone who lands on the virtual race map and gets a Google Street View of Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library or Our Katahdin, or of one of the Stephen King sites embedded in the map, gets an extra entry in the giveaway.

The virtual race runs from July 20 through Dec. 8, and includes the entire real-life route of MDI Marathon & Half that’s happening Oct. 14, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half that’s happening Dec. 8. You can backdate running, hiking or walking miles to July 20, if you happen to join after the start. And you don’t have to complete all 338 miles of the virtual race route to earn your medal or enter the giveaway.

Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race is also the virtual edition of the Sea to Summit Series, where runners who participate in both the real-life MDI and Millinocket races can earn a special Sea to Summit finisher’s medallion. Register now.

virtual race

Don’t worry – even if you can’t go the full distance of 338 miles in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race between July 20 and Dec. 8, everyone is a winner! You’ll earn the Acadia to Katahdin Medallion, have a chance to win MDI, Millinocket or Stephen King-themed gifts and see your virtual race avatar move from Cadillac to Katahdin. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

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Peregrine falcon chicks total eight at Acadia National Park

Three nests at Acadia National Park produced eight peregrine falcon chicks in 2018, making for a successful year for the state-endangered birds despite the unusual failure of a nest at the Precipice.

peregrine falcon chick

Park wildlife biologist, Bruce Connery, holds a peregrine chick that has just been lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding. Acadia National Park photo.

According to Bruce Connery, the park’s wildlife biologist, four peregrine falcon chicks fledged at Valley Cove over Somes Sound; two at Jordan Cliffs and two on Ironbound Island. The nest at Jordan Cliffs is a nice story because park leaders in late May had initially feared that a nest there had also failed.

In an email, Connery wrote that a visitor in early June reported the nest at Jordan Cliffs and added that “we are thrilled as we were able to band both chicks.”

The park reopened the popular Precipice Trail and a section of the Orange & Black Path on July 13, according to a park press release, which is earlier than usual.

The Precipice Trail, which goes up the east face of Champlain Mountain, is usually closed from late March or early April until late July or early August each year because of nesting peregrine falcons, but a nest failed this year at the Precipice.

Connery said in a press release that it is not uncommon for falcon pairs to fail to nest in some years. He noted that this year was only the second time in 27 years that a pair has failed to nest successfully at the Precipice. In addition, Beech Cliff above Echo Lake did not yield any falcon chicks this year or for the past several years and Connery has said he does not know the reasons for that.

Banding of a peregrine falcon chick

A peregrine falcon chick is banded near a nest at the Precipice in an earlier year. Photo by Keith Wozniak/Acadia National Park.

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Virtual runs from Acadia to Katahdin mark amazing journeys

In memory of her husband Michael, who died in a kayak accident off the coast of Maine in 2016, Jennifer Popper journeys north from New Jersey to Maine, raising more than $15,000 for charity, and logging her miles on a virtual race route from Acadia National Park to Katahdin along the way.

jennifer popper

A surprise welcome party greeted Jennifer Popper, second from the right, in Boston last week. On the far right is her friend Rachel Hanks, carrying the handmade sign. And from the far left, Jennifer Petruccelli, Tim Hillier and Larry Kelley, who all worked with Michael Popper at CDM Smith (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Popper)

As she arrived in Boston last week, more than halfway through her 800-mile walk, she was surprised and overjoyed to be greeted by an old friend with a handmade sign, three former co-workers of her husband’s, and two fellow virtual racers she’d never met before. “It’s overwhelmingly awesome,” Popper said.

Like so many of the participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run and other virtual runs, Popper has found meaning and camaraderie in logging walking, running or hiking miles. Popper, who goes by the virtual race name @jennsjourney, has appreciated comments on the race message board from fellow virtual racers, especially @Keefa and @FL2ME.

“I don’t know who Keefa is, or Flamethrower,” Popper said, but the support has meant a lot as she’s on her trek to raise funds for the two nonprofits that have meant a lot to her and her husband, the East Coast Greenway Alliance and FreeWalkers.

Since last August, the more than 150 participants from around the country in the Cadillac to Katahdin race have helped raise $800 for three official charities benefiting from the race: Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library and Our Katahdin. At the same time, they have collectively logged more than 59,000 miles on the virtual race route, back and forth between Cadillac and Katahdin; made real and virtual friends along the way; and accomplished other personally meaningful goals, whether raising funds for other causes or meeting a health and fitness goal.

virtual runs

The more than 150 participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run have collectively logged more than 59,000 miles. You can still sign up through July 16 to try out a virtual race, backdate miles to August 15, 2017, and get the collector’s edition medal featuring buffalo-plaid ribbon. At least 5% of gross proceeds go to benefit Acadia and Millinocket-area charities. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

The Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run is winding down this month, and to mark Acadia’s 102nd birthday on July 8, we’re announcing a new race, the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, that will include the 26 peaks of Acadia, the Schoodic section of the park, parts of the Down East Sunrise Trail, and other new features.

We’re proud to once again co-sponsor the race with Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, as the virtual edition of the 2018 Maine Sea to Summit Series, to help benefit charities in the Acadia and Katahdin regions. Details of the new race and registration information will be available here later this month, as the finishing touches are put on the new virtual race route, and the new finisher’s medals.

Even if participants in the virtual runs never meet, they are bound by some connection to the Acadia or Katahdin regions or the Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathons & Half Marathons, or by a charitable impulse or interest in health and fitness.

Among the virtual racers and some of their stories: Continue reading

Valley Cove project tops backlog of work on Acadia trails

One in a series about the nearly $60 million maintenance backlog in Acadia National Park

Inside a cramped, old trailer that serves as his federal office, Gary Stellpflug, trails foreman at Acadia National Park, points to a wall pinned with note cards that spell out a backlog of maintenance projects for Acadia trails.

Gary Stellpflug

Gary Stellpflug (NPS photo)

The projects to improve Acadia National Park trails, including many that still require funding, stretch out to 2022. “We won’t run out of work, even at the present rate,” said Stellpflug.

Of the nearly $12 billion of backlogged maintenance in national parks across the country, Acadia weighs in with nearly $60 million including more than $9 million on hiking trails alone.

This year, the Acadia trails crew is involved in a major effort to reduce the maintenance backup, topped by a current overhaul of the Valley Cove Trail, which is located on the east side of St. Sauveur Mountain and runs along the west shore of Somes Sound, a 5-mile-long inlet that carves into Mount Desert Island.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression 80 years ago, the Valley Cove Trail was championed by park founder George B. Dorr as a way to access what he described as “an unusually beautiful shoreline” along the fjord-like Somes.

acadia national park hiking

Anyone trying to hike the Valley Cove Trail the last two years would have been greeted by trail closure signs warning of hazardous conditions, not just of peregrine falcon nesting.

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Jordan Pond House tea lawn closed to diners, dogs ’til July 15

After being worn down from years of use, the famed tea lawn at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park is undergoing a $356,000 rehabilitation, blocking people from sitting or walking on the lawn, and others from dining outside with their dog, until the middle of July.

Lawn is rehabilitated at Jordan Pond House

With the tea lawn at the Jordan Pond House undergoing a major rehabilitation, Kathy Weinstock of Newburyport, Mass., finds some rough grass to relax on, outside fencing that blocks access to the lawn project.

A contractor is replacing the sprawling lawn, installing an underground irrigation system and building a new brick plaza, among other work financed by funds related to the concessionaire franchise fee.

While people can still enjoy a popover and meal inside the park’s only restaurant or catch the iconic view of the Bubbles from a big observation deck or by the shores of Jordan Pond, the temporary lawn closure is unexpected and disappointing for some, including dog owners used to eating outside with their pets.

“We were actually planning on coming to sit on the lawn to read,” said Erika Swiger, 26, a social worker from Burlington, Vt., as she and her boyfriend Harvey Vincent, 28, a University of Vermont graduate student, looked across the construction zone from the Acadia restaurant’s observation deck on a sunny afternoon in late May. “It definitely takes away from the beauty of the place.”

A longtime visitor to Acadia, Swiger likes to have popovers with jam on the Acadia tea lawn, a Jordan Pond House tradition; it was “definitely disappointing” not to be able to do so, she said. She saw no sign alerting visitors to the construction, and thought that perhaps the restaurant was expanding.

Kathy Weinstock, a 1981 graduate of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, lay on a rough grassy area outside the construction zone while waiting for her son to return from a run. She told her son she would read a book and wait for him on the lawn but then to her surprise the lawn was gone. “I said, ‘Where’s the lawn?’ “

jordan pond house

Harvey Vincent, left, and Erika Swiger, of Burlington, Vt., try to make the best of the construction zone marring their view of the Bubbles during their Memorial Day weekend visit to the Jordan Pond House, as they waited for a table inside.

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Acadia traffic, need for plan, surface at Jordan Pond

Acadia National Park is planning one more public engagement session on its draft plan to relieve traffic congestion in the park, following some tense Acadia traffic near Jordan Pond on Sunday.

acadia traffic problems

A pedestrian barely has room to get by the equestrian crossing sign on the right, as he heads toward Jordan Pond House Memorial Day weekend. The improperly parked cars, seen on the left, stretched along the Park Loop Road from Jordan Pond to as far as Bubble Pond.

The 215-page draft transportation plan, which was released on April 26, proposes to create seasonal vehicle reservation systems for an additional fee at Cadillac Summit Road, the Ocean Drive corridor and Jordan Pond area to better manage traffic.

After holding five information sessions in May, the National Park Service is offering a live webinar from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13 on the draft transportation plan, which proposes the reservation system as its centerpiece.

Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for Acadia National Park, said it’s been great to receive input from people at the sessions that came after the release of the draft transportation plan. She said it has been a fantastic process.

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Peregrine falcon chicks at Valley Cove; Precipice damaged

UPDATE 7/13/2018: Acadia National Park announces that the Precipice Trail will reopen on July 13, but keeps the Jordan Cliffs Trail closed for the time being because of the presence of nesting falcons. At least 8 falcon chicks have fledged or hatched in 2018 at Acadia including four at Valley Cove, two on Jordan Cliffs and two on the cliffs of Ironbound Island — up from a total of 5 in 2017 but less than 11 in 2016.

At least three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched at Valley Cove in Acadia National Park this year, but a nest was unsuccessful at the Precipice and a third site at Jordan Cliffs may also have failed, according to the park’s wildlife biologist.

peregrine falcon chick

Park wildlife biologist, Bruce Connery, holds a peregrine falcon chick that has just been lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding. (NPS photo)

Based on a recent observation, Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said in an email that he believes at least three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched at Valley Cove, and are set to fledge in about three weeks. There could also be perhaps more chicks at Valley Cove, he added.

“It is true the Precipice territory adults failed in their nesting attempt, and we believe Jordan Cliff may have failed as well,” Connery wrote in an email. “However we will be doing additional observation surveys this week to confirm whether the territorial adults are still present, have a nest or are attempting to nest.”

“At Valley Cove, we had thought there were at least two chicks, but based on the observations I did this morning, I believe there were at least three chicks…about 14 days old,” Connery wrote in an email on Saturday.

acadia national park

Even if no peregrine falcon chicks have been spotted along the Precipice Trail this spring, the popular cliff climb will be closed indefinitely because of damage to this footbridge this winter, according to Acadia National Park’s Facebook page. (NPS photo)

It is unclear when the park will reopen hiking trails that are closed annually to help protect the nesting falcons and chicks. The park usually waits for the falcon chicks to fly for four to five weeks before reopening the trails, usually by early August.

Falcon chicks usually don’t fly for the first time until late June or July 1.

The Precipice Trail will remain closed because of a broken bridge and handrail, Connery wrote. It will take at least two weeks to get materials, haul them to the site and then construct the new bridge.

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