Category Archives: Features

Features about Acadia National Park.

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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Celebrating Acadia birds amid Year of the Bird, climate woes

Since the late 1990s, enthusiastic birders have been flocking to Mount Desert Island every year, to celebrate the diversity of songbirds, seabirds and raptors found in Acadia National Park and surrounding areas.

acadia birds

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Acadia Birding Festival (Image courtesy of Acadia Birding Festival)

Now, as the Acadia Birding Festival marks its 20th anniversary from May 31 to June 3, the gathering comes at a time of urgency, as a new Audubon and National Park Service study  identifies as many as 66 species of Acadia birds that could become locally extinct by the year 2050, if nothing is done to reduce the impacts of climate change.

This year has been declared the Year of the Bird, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that protects birds, and sound the alarm about climate change’s potential impact and other environmental threats, with the hope of preventing species from becoming modern-day equivalents of the canary in a coal mine.

acadia birds

The Bald Eagle and 11 other bird species could become locally extinct in winter in Acadia, according to a new study. (NPS photo)

In an interview, Becky Marvil, executive director of the Acadia Birding Festival, said it is disheartening to see the findings of studies such as the effects of climate change on birds in U.S. National Parks. As more and more data are released, it appears the consequences of climate change could be more damaging to birds than anyone imagined, she said.

“It’s very sad,” she said. “A lot of birders have been aware of this for quite some time.”

Marvil said the Year of the Bird is important because it brings awareness to birds and the importance of habitat, conservation, and the environment.

“It’s a year of thinking of all the things that affect birds,” agreed Michael J. Good, a Registered Maine Guide and owner of Down East Nature Tours, and founder of the Acadia Birding Festival. And that means not only addressing climate change and conservation of habitat, but also cleaning up plastic, which seabirds can mistake for food, leading to death, he said in an interview.

Among the Acadia birds expected to be celebrated at the birding festival, according to festival trip descriptions, but also at risk of becoming locally extinct (extirpated) in summer or winter by 2050 if no steps are taken to address climate change, according to climate change researchers: Bald Eagle; Yellow-bellied Flycatcher; Pileated Woodpecker; Common Raven; and Common Loon.

acadia birds

The Common Loon is one of 66 species of Acadia birds identified as at risk of becoming locally extinct in summer or winter by the year 2050 if nothing is done to address climate change, according to a new study on the potential impact of climate change on birds in national parks. (NPS photo)

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Baker Island resident authors first history of Acadia island

Baker Island, a remote part of Acadia National Park, occupies a longtime special spot in the lore of the park.

The Baker Island Lighthouse in Acadia National Park

The Baker Island Light Tower and Keeper’s Quarters in Acadia National Park. The National Park Service acquired the 10-acre light station  complex in 1958 and the tower itself in 2011, according to a new book, “Baker Island.”

The region’s first lighthouse was constructed on the Acadia island and its first keeper was the head of the self-reliant Gilley family that settled Baker in the early 1800s. Hikers enjoy the island for its mystical views of the Acadia mountains on the horizon on a clear day, unusually large sand bar and reef and paths through grassy fields around the coast. People are attracted by the light tower, an Acadia ranger-narrated boat trip and walking tour of the island from mid-June through early September, and giant slabs of granite on the south shore called the dance floor, once used by smooth-stepping rusticators and recently by at least one local swing group.

Now, Cornelia J. Cesari, whose family has owned one of only two private homes on the Acadia island for more than 30 years, has written the first comprehensive history of the island.

In her book, called “Baker Island,” Cesari writes that the island is “an out-of-worldly experience, a timeless Brigadoon” and a historical hub for fishermen, locals, tourists, summer people, artists, academics, military families and naturalists.

baker island

The only book dedicated solely to Baker Island will be released in June and was written by Cornelia J. Cesari, president of the board of directors for Keepers of Baker Island. (Image courtesy of Cornelia J. Cesari)

Cesari said she was driven to write the book because the island affects the lives of many people and its complete 200-plus year history was never previously written. Visitors often approach her on Baker Island and tell her how much it means to them, or become rapt when she tells stories about the island, she said.

“I have always felt this book needed to be written,” Cesari said in an interview. “It had to be put together. So many people love Baker Island.”

The island is known largely because of its light tower and the pioneering Gilley family that settled there.

Charles W. Eliot, the youngest ever president of Harvard and a summer resident of Mount Desert Island who helped create the national park, was so fascinated by the island’s history that he wrote what is now called “John Gilley, One of the Forgotten Millions,” a little tome, originally published in 1899, that tells the history of the family that settled the island.

Cesari’s book, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, expands on Eliot’s research and brings the history up to the moment.

The book is set for release on June 18 and is available for pre-order at the website of Keepers of Baker Island, a private nonprofit group that works with the park to preserve and maintain the island, located a little more than three miles south of Mount Desert Island. Cesari is president of the board of directors of the nonprofit and says books bought on the website will benefit the organization, although the book will also be available at the same price of $21.99 elsewhere, at bookstores and Amazon.com.  (NOTE: Please see sidebar about Amazon.com links)

Mountains in Acadia National Park, as seen from the north shore of Baker Island.

A view of mountains in Acadia National Park from the north shore of Baker Island.

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Acadia adds $284M to economic benefits of national parks

UPDATED 5/7/2018: Story adds a statement from Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.

Acadia National Park last year pumped $284 million in jobs and business activities into the regional economy, according to an annual report on the economic benefits of national parks.

acadia visitor spending

In 2017, 3.5 million visitors spent an estimated $284.5 million in local communities, up 4% from the year before. (NPS image)

Acadia National Park supported 4,163 full and part-time jobs in 2017, down slightly from 4,195 jobs in 2016, as businesses last year struggled to find help amid a strong economy and tighter policies on hiring of foreign workers by the Trump administration.

“Acadia National Park’s extraordinary beauty and recreational opportunities attracted a record number of visitors in 2017 making it the seventh most-visited national park in the country,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “We value our relationship with the neighboring communities and appreciate the services, experiences and amenities they provide to park visitors.”

The total economic output for Acadia in 2017 was $338.8 million, an increase from $333 million in 2016.

In 2017, the year after celebrating its  centennial, Acadia contributed $284.5 million in visitor spending, up 4 percent from 2016 and up 41 percent from $201 million in 2012, according to the report.

Unveiled by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the report comes as Acadia is proposing a vehicle reservation system for Cadillac Mountain summit, Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond that would relieve traffic congestion during peak season caused by a growing number of visitors and impose a small vehicle reservation fee partly to help raise money for increased service for the fare-free Island Explorer shuttle. The report on the economic effects of national parks also follows a decision by the National Park Service to impose modest entrance fee increases  starting June 1 at Acadia and 16 other of the most popular national parks, after an initial proposal to more than double fees caused an uproar.

acadia traffic

Accompanying the boost from Acadia visitors is the traffic, subject of a separate just-released transportation report, proposing a car reservation system. (NPS images)

 

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Wanted: Acadia camping with a view, or in the backcountry

ask acadia on my mind

Ask Acadia on My Mind!

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

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.

1) Hi, I’m looking for a recommendation for a good camping site in Blackwoods in August with a view for my family of 4. It has been years since we have camped up there (before kids)! Thanks!Gia, of Colchester, Conn.

 2) Hi! I’m planning my first trip to Acadia for the third week of April. I am currently looking for a generally primitive campsite where I can just bring my tent and needed supplies, but all the campsites I’ve checked on this list do not have any available sites according to https://www.recreation.gov/. I am hoping to find a place to camp that’s the closest to primitive or backcountry camping that I can find. Do you have any suggestions, know of any other places I should be looking for site availabilities or know of any campsites that are definitely available? Thank you! – Maud Rydell, Hope Valley, R.I.

Dear Gia and Maud, glad to see you’re both planning ahead for Acadia camping!

acadia camping

The official Blackwoods camping map shows the A and B loops. (Image courtesy of recreation.gov)

Blackwoods, the only Acadia National Park campground that is open year-round, is wooded and offers 217 tent-only non-electric sites, 60 RV electric and 4 group non-electric sites.

Gia, while there aren’t any water or mountain views to be had directly from sites at Blackwoods, some are more private, others are closer to bathrooms, and yet others provide more direct access to trails, as you can see from the Acadia camping map.

Another resource that we’ve come across in our Internet research that you might find helpful: A Web site, www.campsitephotos.com, that shows a photo of every Blackwoods campsite, in both the A and B loops.

And since it’s been years since you’ve been to Blackwoods, Gia, you’ll want to know about the Quarry and Otter Cove Trails, which opened just in 2014. They provide direct access to Gorham Mountain and Ocean Path, and you can find the trailhead across from the campground entrance station.

acadia national park

The Quarry and Otter Cove Trails, opened just in 2014, lead from Blackwoods Campground, past Otter Cove, as seen here, and on to Gorham Mountain and Ocean Path.

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Acadia’s Ship Harbor ideal for hiking Maine coast year-round

One in a series of historic Acadia hiking trail highlights

With a possible maritime disaster in its past, a big undeveloped harbor and sprawling pink granite, the Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park epitomizes a lot about hiking Maine coast.

We’ve often walked the Ship Harbor Trail over the past two decades, but for the first time this past year, we did it once in spring, summer, autumn and winter. While hiking Maine coast, we wanted to experience how a single trail changes with the weather and the seasons.

Snow-clad Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park.

Snow covers the pink granite shore on the Ship Harbor Trail during a January hike in Acadia National Park.

In the winter, we were struck by the contrast of the snow on pink granite and tall spruce. In spring, the trail came alive with rhodora, bunchberry and other wildflowers, while in summer, it was ideal for catching some sun on the shore and enjoying close-up views of nearby islands, as well as purple iris and a thicket of salt spray rose.  The fall foliage in Acadia is splendid and the trail is particularly stunning for yellow beech and blazing red blueberry bushes.

Located on the southwest shore of Mt. Desert Island, the popular hike consists of two loops, or a figure 8, totaling 1.3 miles, with colorful, newer wayside exhibits that explain the sea life in the mudflats and tide pools while hiking Maine coast.

The Ship Harbor Trail in late spring in Acadia National Park

This photo, taken in late May, provides a late spring view from the same spot on the Ship Harbor Trail.

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Spring in Acadia: Mud time closes carriage roads, aid blooms

In an early sign of spring in Acadia National Park, officials closed the carriage roads on Friday for mud season, and fundraisers to benefit the park are popping up like snowdrops.

Before you know it, the peregrine falcons will be returning to nest, usually closing the Precipice Trail and other cliff climbs by late March; the Cadillac Summit Road and Hulls Cove Visitor Center will be opening in mid-April; and the rhodora will be ablaze.

acadia carriage roads

Mud season has closed Acadia’s carriage roads until further notice.

But perhaps unlike other recent springtimes in Acadia, the park seems to face more challenges than typical in getting ready for the busy season.

This winter’s unusual freeze-thaw damage to Sieur de Monts’s Nature Center and Wild Gardens of Acadia – which were alternatively encased in ice, then flooded – is still being assessed. The Trump administration has proposed a 7 percent cut in the National Park Service’s overall fiscal 2019 budget. Record-setting visitation reached 3.5 million in Acadia last year, while the park’s deferred maintenance backlog is at $59 million as of the end of fiscal 2017.

While fundraisers to benefit the park don’t replace the need for adequate federal funding, every little bit helps. And in the spirit of renewal that spring in Acadia represents, here are some ways to help raise funds via the park’s main nonprofit partner, Friends of Acadia, and otherwise do your part to give back to the park that gives so much to so many, in all seasons:

virtual race with medals

If you join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run between now and March 9, we’ll double the percentage of registration fees going to benefit Friends of Acadia, as part of the charity’s Spring E-Challenge. (Image courtesy of Friends of Acadia)

  • Make a special donation to the Friends of Acadia between now and March 9 during its 2018 Spring E-Challenge, to help secure up to $15,000 in matching funds, offered by a small group of park supporters. Last year, the charity featured a spring membership challenge that resulted in 127 donors, including 20 new members.
  • Join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, which we’re co-sponsoring with Crow Athletics, Mount Desert Island Marathon and Millinocket Marathon & Half, between now and March 9, and we will double the percentage of registration fees that will go to the Friends of Acadia, as part of our contribution to the nonprofit’s Spring E-Challenge. We’re announcing today that the race is being extended to June 30, thanks to racery.com, to give participants more time to log their miles anywhere in the world, and watch their race avatar move along the 200-mile virtual route from Cadillac to Katahdin. Not only will you help raise funds for Friends of Acadia and other nonprofits, you’ll also get a special medal in the shape of Maine, featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, and a buffalo-plaid ribbon. Read more about the race here. Register now.
  • Sign up for the Friends of Acadia’s annual Earth Day roadside clean-up, happening on the last Saturday of every April (April 28 this year), or any of the charity’s other events throughout the year.
    virtual race

    Announce your participation in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run by sharing this graphic. Register now, race ends June 30. (Image by racery.com)

    virtual races with medals

    This is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion you can earn for signing up for the virtual race to help benefit Friends of Acadia and other charities.

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Virtual Winter Olympics helps benefit Acadia and Millinocket

Just as real-life Olympians are going for the gold in PyeongChang, participants from across the USA are engaged in a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts, to earn a special medal and help raise funds for Acadia and Millinocket – and to make winter go by a little faster.

But instead of official Winter Olympics events like the biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting), one racer in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run came up with a virtual Winter Olympics competition he calls the Winter Duathlon, where any 2 sports back-to-back counts.

winter olympics

Thomas Zotti, a.k.a. @TomZot, goes for the gold with this open water swim as part of his Winter Duathlon for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Zotti)

“There really are no rules,” said Thomas Zotti, who goes by the virtual race name of @TomZot, in an e-mail. “It’s just something I made up a few winters ago when the weather forced me onto the treadmill at the gym and I stayed to do some lifting. My thought at the time was just to go from the mill to lifting. I have also snowshoed and then lifted.”

Zotti, of Wolfeboro, NH, even included a recent open water swim, part of a fire-rescue training exercise, as one of his 2 sports, although that’s “not necessarily representative of what I typically do as part of the duathlon.”

As a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts, anything goes for the more than 150 racers from around the USA signed up so far in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, and everyone’s a winner.

That’s because at least 5% of gross proceeds from race registrations go to support the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. And because everyone gets a medal (or two) upon the end of the race, whether they complete the virtual 200-mile route from Cadillac to Katahdin or not, by hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, running or engaging in any other sport anywhere in the USA.

virtual races with medals

Whether you’re part of team #hipster or #lumberjack, this is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned version of the Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion that you can earn. Made by Ashworth Awards, the same firm that makes the Boston and MDI Marathon medals, it’s been described as “Olympic quality” by one witness to a medal ceremony.

The virtual race ends April 10, and registrants can backdate miles as far back as Aug. 15, 2017, the original start of the race. And as we announced last month, only miles logged between Jan. 1 and April 10 (the first 100 days of 2018) will count toward a team #hipster vs. #lumberjack competition.

While there is no fierce rivalry between different nation-states in this virtual Winter Olympics, there is a friendly #hipster vs. #lumberjack showdown. And why these 2 team names? Because the limited-edition Maine-shaped medal featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, available as part of new registrations and as an add-on for original racers, comes with a special buffalo-plaid ribbon. And both hipsters and lumberjacks look good in buffalo plaid.

Register here, and see more details about registration at the bottom of this post.

acadia in winter

Snowshoers on the way to the Featherbed, along the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, as part of the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts.

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Scenes of Acadia in winter like a picture-perfect postcard

With a recent foot of snow, and possibly more on the way, Acadia National Park should be ideal for snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing this weekend.

Snow shoeing in Acadia National Park

With islands looming in the background, snowshoeing is tops on the Cadillac South Ridge Trail.

Recent rains also mean there is likely plenty of thick ice under the fresh snow to possibly make winter hiking risky in spots, even with MICROspikes(R) or snowshoes. It could also be that there is enough snow to protect winter hikers and skiers from the ice underneath. Conditions can vary so much in Acadia in winter.

A couple of weeks ago, after the park received seven inches of snow, we strapped on snowshoes and hiked a good part of the Cadillac South Ridge Trail with friends, and then to the peak of South Bubble the next day with Kahtoola MICROspikes(R). It was often tricky to negotiate ice under the snow and we slipped or fell several times over the weekend.  At the time, we believed a foot of snow would be near perfect. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about Amazon.com links)

The National Park Service  plows the lots at Jordan Pond and snowmobiles may groom tracks on closed sections of the Park Loop Road in the area, providing access to South and North Bubbles and other trails.

acadia in winter

Blue skies over the Bubbles, and snow blankets the pink granite shore of Jordan Pond.

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