Category Archives: Features

Features about Acadia National Park.

Katahdin and Acadia National Park holiday gift ideas for all

Making your list, checking it twice, and looking for special Katahdin or Acadia National Park holiday gift ideas for someone nice?

Whether you start your holiday shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday, here’s a special selection to help raise funds for charity, support local business and bring memories of Maine home for the holidays.

2019 acadia pass

Southwest Harbor photographer J.K. Putnam shot this winning image for the 2019 Acadia annual pass, available for “almost-half-price” most of this month. He sells prints of these barred owls at his website. (NPS image)

And as we’re co-sponsoring the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race that connects participants and supporters of the Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half (held every October) and Millinocket Marathon & Half (being held Dec. 7), we also include ideas for the runner, hiker and all-around outdoor enthusiast on your list.

Acadia National Park annual pass – If you happen to be in the Bar Harbor area in December, you can get an annual pass for “almost-half-price” beginning Dec. 6 during the Bar Harbor Midnight Madness event, from 8 p.m. to midnight at the park’s Village Green visitor center, and throughout the rest of the month at regional chambers of commerce, town offices and the Schoodic Institute. Normally $55, the $28 special annual pass price is less than a one-week in-season pass at $30. For more details, see the Facebook group that we host about Acadia National Park hiking.

Friends of Acadia gift membership – By giving a gift membership, you would provide a year’s worth of membership benefits to a family member or friend, including a subscription to the Friends of Acadia Journal, six note cards depicting Acadia at night, and a window decal. Gift membership starts at $40, and also helps support the nonprofit that does so much for Acadia National Park. And if you want to donate independent of a gift membership contribute on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3, any time between midnight and 11:59 p.m. and up to $20,000 will be matched by the Grace family (and you get a chance to win a pair of Leki trekking poles).

moose 2020 calendar

You’re more likely to spot a moose in Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument than in Acadia  National Park, but you’ll see a moose every month of the year no matter where in the world you are with this calendar by wildlife photographer Mark Picard. (Photo courtesy of Moose Prints Gallery & Gifts)

Moose calendar – Few things say Maine like moose, but while you’re unlikely to see the ungulates in Acadia, you can easily find them in the Katahdin region, as Millinocket wildlife photographer Mark Picard shows in his iconic moose calendar, which has been featured by BBC and PBS. Mark and his partner, Anita Mueller, are welcoming racers to Millinocket for “Fuel Up Friday” at their Moose Prints Gallery, 58 Central Street, 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6, and taking donations for the Millinocket Regional Hospital Oncology Department. A copy of this calendar is one of the giveaways for participants in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, see below for details about how to enter the race to help raise funds for Acadia and Katahdin region charities.

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On your mark! ‘MegOMoose,’ other virtual racers in Acadia

Ready, set, go! With fun names like “MuddyMom,” “SlowCrawl,” “BunnyButt” and “TheOtherButt,” virtual racers from around Maine and the rest of the country are heading out of the starting gate of the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race today, to help raise funds for charity in Millinocket and Acadia.

virtual race

These may be the only moose you’ll ever see in Acadia. You can start earning one of these classic medals with the raised profile of the Bubbles and Katahdin by signing up for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race now.

United by a passion for all things Maine or aiming to meet personal running, hiking, walking or charity fund-raising goals, the more than 50 virtual racers signed up so far hail from all corners of the state, from Millinocket to Bar Harbor, Bangor to Bernard, and across the country, from Alabama to Oregon, Missouri to Texas.

Sign up today and you too can join the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, starting out at the lowest of the 26 peaks of Acadia and heading to the highest mountain in Maine, with the chance to earn a lobster- or moose-themed medal and be entered into giveaways.

acadia to katahdin virtual race

Are you up to the challenge? Virtually climb the 26 Acadia peaks, run the MDI and Millinocket Marathon and scale Katahdin twice? Sign up today.

You have until Dec. 31 to complete the course, and you can backdate miles to Aug. 2. You can log walking, hiking or running miles anywhere in the world, and see your virtual race avatar move across the virtual Maine map, with special pop-up images of all 26 Acadia peaks, Millinocket and Katahdin scenes, and Stephen King-themed sites.

Everyone is a winner, even if you can’t complete all 8 segments of the virtual race route and the full 328.5 miles by the end of the year. That’s because everyone gets a digital race bib, a digital certificate at completion of the race and emailed digital postcards upon finishing even just the first segment of the virtual race route, all 26 peaks of Acadia at 55.2 miles by Dec. 31.

virtual race

A detail of the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race map. Click on any of the red pindrops and you might see one of the 26 Acadia peaks or a “Where in Acadia?” question. Sign up and see the interactive map here.

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Virtual race marks 100th of Acadia peaks, Millinocket library

A century ago, in two very different parts of Maine – the Acadia National Park of today and the once-booming mill town of Millinocket – these distinctly special events occurred:

acadia to katahdin virtual race

Are you up to the challenge? Virtually climb the 26 Acadia peaks, run the MDI and Millinocket Marathon and scale Katahdin twice? Help raise funds for charity and earn 1 or more medals? Sign up now (Image courtesy of Racery)

  • Acadia became the first eastern national park, and its “undistinguished” mountains got renamed as part of the effort, with Green now known as Cadillac and Newport as Champlain, among others
  • Millinocket established a library in memory of the native sons who lost their lives during World War I “for the rescue of human rights”

To mark the 100th anniversary of Acadia’s creation as a national park and the naming of iconic Acadia peaks, as well as to celebrate the Millinocket Memorial Library Centennial, a new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race begins Aug. 2, to help raise funds for the two regions, and connect fans of these special parts of Maine, no matter where in the world they may live.

Sign up now and you can earn up to 4 different lobster and moose-themed medals for logging your running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world. Watch your avatar move on the virtual race map, along the 26 peaks of Acadia and the real-life Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon routes, and end atop Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain.

New this year, the virtual race route features 8 specially themed segments, and even if you can’t complete all 328.5 miles by Dec. 31, you will get digital milestone postcards emailed upon finishing each of the following segments:

lobster medal

One of 3 classic virtual race medals featuring raised profiles of Katahdin and the Bubbles. The new 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Finisher Medallion, featuring a raised moose and lobster, will be unveiled soon. Start earning this medal now

  • 26 Acadia peaks (55.2 miles)
  • MDI Marathon & Half Marathon route (26.2 miles)
  • Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon route, plus the first ascent of Katahdin (57.7 miles)
  • Acadia’s Park Loop Road (25.3 miles)
  • Schoodic National Scenic Byway (28.8 miles)
  • Stephen King-themed segment, from Deer Brook Trail in Acadia to University of Maine, Orono, with special stops in Ellsworth and Bangor (62 miles)
  • Acadia’s carriage road (37.3 miles)
  • Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, plus final ascent of Katahdin (36 miles)

Also new this year: Customized pindrops embedded in the virtual race map with special images and messages, highlighting 26 Acadia peaks and Millinocket, Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters sites, and virtual racers’ past achievements – click on one of those red pindrops, and you might find yourself mentioned or pictured!

virtual races with medals

You can start earning a classic virtual race medal with a multiple moose ribbon now.

The pindrops also test your knowledge by asking “Where in Acadia?” and “Where in Millinocket?” and feature fun facts like at what time of year is Cadillac the first place to see the sun rise in the US – not the summer! – and how to avoid the lines by buying a park pass online. (Local businesses along or near the virtual race route can sponsor a customized pindrop with a photo and link to their website by contacting us.)

The virtual race runs from Aug. 2 through Dec. 31, and includes the entire real-life route of MDI Marathon & Half that’s happening Oct. 20, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half that’s happening Dec. 7. You can backdate running, hiking or walking miles to Aug. 2, if you happen to join after the start. And you don’t have to complete all 328.5 miles of the virtual race route to earn a medal.

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.

virtual race

A detail of the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race map. Click on any of the red pindrops and you might see one of the 26 Acadia peaks or a “Where in Acadia?” question. Sign up and see the interactive map here. (Image courtesy of Racery)

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Gary Stellpflug leads highly skilled Acadia hiking trails crew

gary stellpflug

A clue in the woods off the Beech Mountain parking lot, that there was once a carriage road here, surmises Acadia trails foreman Gary Stellpflug during a National Trails Day hike.

There are about 155 miles of hiking trails in Acadia National Park and Gary J. Stellpflug is familiar with just about every inch of them. Stellpflug, who is trails foreman at Acadia National Park, began working in the park as a seasonal laborer in the summer of 1974, began work on trails in 1975,and first became foreman of the Acadia hiking trails crew in 1978. He left for a period in the 1990s, but returned as trails foreman and has held the position for more than 30 years. We spoke with Stellpflug in December of 2018 and then again on National Trails Day in June when he led a tour of the Valley Trail, which was extensively rehabilitated in 2017 and 2018. He discussed a broad scope of topics including the effects of the federal government shutdown in January, plans for rehabilitating trails and staying true to their historic character, how work on  trails is funded  and the history of Acadia National Park. For this Q&A, information was also used from Stellpflug’s annual “Acadia Trails Forever” report for 2018. Acadia Trails Forever is the name of a special endowment started in 1999 for the park. The $13 million fund to benefit the trails includes $9 million in private donations raised by the Friends of Acadia and $4 million in federal funds, mostly from the park’s entry fees.

Did the federal government shutdown have an effect on the Acadia hiking trails crew?

Gary Stellpflug: The trails crew this year is comparatively small, so we needed to scale back on what we wanted to accomplish. For the past couple of years, we have had 15 to 20 seasonal workers. We could have hired 25 this year. I have that much money. But we have only 10. It was entirely due to the shutdown. It pushed hiring back six weeks or more and it made hiring so late for us that nearly everybody on my list of applicants had taken other jobs. For some reason, the Western and Southeast regions started hiring three weeks before I could and the pool of applicants dwindled. I’m not sure what other social factors are involved. One could be that park service wages are not keeping up with the private sector right now, at least in Bar Harbor, Maine. We rarely get local applicants and they used to be the mainstay of the crew. I want to work on that and see what I can do. I did have two additional new seasonal people, but one was in a car accident and could not work and the other had housing issues. We do have two new permanent workers. It took four years to hire them because of the federal government hiring process. They will be furloughed. They won’t work year-round but they do have permanent jobs. That gives us eight permanent workers.

gary stellpflug

Acadia trails crew foreman Gary Stellpflug shares a laugh with participants in a National Trails Day hike, before he leads them out on the Valley Trail.

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Cadillac Mountain crowds root of problem for Acadia plants

The ferns, flowers, shrubs and grasses of Cadillac Mountain have a tough enough time surviving the elements, but the biggest threat of all may be the pounding of constant foot traffic on Acadia National Park’s busiest and highest summit.

plants of acadia national park

Acadia National Park consulting botanist Jill E. Weber scans the horizon atop Cadillac, checking on research plots marked off by sandbags and rope, as part of an effort to better understand how to bring back the summit’s fragile vegetation.

During a recent morning atop 1,530-foot Cadillac, Jill E. Weber, a botanist who consults for the park, surveyed areas close to the summit where she and other researchers are attempting to restore and protect common Acadia plants and some rare species such as mountain firmoss, Nantucket shadbush and boreal blueberries.

“We have a lot of years with a lot of feet,” Weber said. “There is no ill intent. There just has not been the maintenance of the vegetation. A lot of it is gone and we are trying to figure out if we can bring some of it back.”

On Cadillac, which receives about 700,000 visits by people a year, the Acadia plants are as fragile as those along the well-known Alpine Garden Trail of the much higher Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Botanists, park leaders and others are now close to completing a multi-year project to understand, protect and revive Cadillac’s fragile vegetation.

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New center, buses and map aid Acadia National Park visitors

ask acadia on my mind

A view from Bubble Rock, a periodic collection of news briefs about Acadia National Park and related topics

This story was updated 7/2/2019 to reflect the opening of the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop.

This story was updated on 6/24/19 with information from a press release issued by the park on the opening for the season of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.

A major asset is back in operation for the busy summer season for Acadia National Park visitors.

The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the main visitor center for Acadia National Park, opened on Wednesday for the first time this year after $1.2 million in renovations, according to an email from Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for the park. Hulls Cove is staffed with rangers and open this weekend.

“We are excited to open the doors to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “Visitors will experience new information desks, an expanded park store, and more restrooms.”

The contractor, King Construction Services of Jonesport, upgraded restrooms and created an improved arrangement for visitor services. The park is hoping that queuing of visitors in line will improve and visitors will move through the center more efficiently until overall issues can be addressed with a more comprehensive redesign proposed for the future.

The main visitor center usually opens April 15, but the opening was at first delayed until late May and then set for late June. Hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily until June 30, then 8 am to 6 pm daily July 1 to Sept. 2 before going back to 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily from Sept. 3 to Oct. 31, according to the park’s web site.

The recent upgrade was funded through visitor entrance fees while interior displays and exhibits were supported through generous contributions from the park store, according to a press release. Other improvements include new carpet and a separate entrance to the park store from outside the building. Interior displays and exhibits convey real-time information on planning, several over-sized maps and a new display of pieces from the Acadia Artist-in Residence program.

Sound-dampening design and materials should help to reduce the volume of noise in the center.

Meanwhile, the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop opened on June 23, about two months later than usual. The gift shop had been closed because of ice and snow damage and mildew issues and Dawnland LLC, the concessionaire for the Cadillac Mountain gift shop, had been trying to open the gift shop as soon as possible. The gift shop has been restocked to replace damaged goods. The shop is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and sells 7-day passes to the park for $30 per vehicle.

Acadia National Park visitor center

Hulls Cove Visitor Center in Acadia National Park reopened Wednesday after a $1.2 million renovation took longer than expected, while the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop remains closed from ice and snow damage over the winter and mildew issues.

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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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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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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 complete with a number of patio furniture sets for people to sit on, 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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