Tag Archives: valley-cove-trail

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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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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The peregrine falcon has “great” year in Acadia, 11 chicks fly

UPDATE 7/29/2016: Park today announces reopening of Precipice, Jordan Cliffs and parts of Valley Cove Trails, and closure of 1-mile section of Valley Cove Trail between Flying Mountain and Man o’ War Brook because of deteriorating trail conditions.

A biologist at Acadia National Park said several popular hiking trails at Acadia National Park should open by early next week, following “a great” year for the peregrine falcon at the park.

Peregrine falcon chick

A peregrine falcon chick is held for banding in the spring (Photo by Keith Wozniak/Acadia National Park)

Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said 11 peregrine falcon chicks fledged, or took their first flight, at the park’s three main nesting sites this year. That’s up from 7 for each of the prior two years at those sites.

He said the peregrine falcon nests at the Precipice on the east face of Champlain Mountain and Jordan Cliffs each produced four fledged falcons and the nest at Valley Cove, three.

“It is great,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “We usually have good success at one site, sometimes two. It is a rare to have that kind of success at three sites.”

He said there was also a chick of the peregrine falcon at Ironbound Island this year with a photo taken by the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. The park holds a conservation easement on Ironbound, a privately owned island in Frenchman Bay.

Sign for closing Orange & Black Path for the peregrine falcon

This trail closure sign on the Orange & Black Path, shown in early July, will soon be coming down.

The Precipice Trail, the Jordan Cliffs Trail, part of the Orange & Black Path and the Valley Cove Trail, which were closed early this spring to protect the falcon chicks, should all open maybe this weekend or by early next week, he said. The trails usually do open in early August every year.

The park has not officially announced the date for reopening the trails and trail crews still need to approve some trail sections for safety reasons for hikers, he said. The park announced the trail closures in March. Continue reading

Endangered falcons take the stage at Acadia National Park

Endangered falcons gave birth to 11 chicks this year at Acadia National Park and now are putting on a show for hundreds of visitors to the park.

endangered falcons

Park Ranger Andrew Wolfgang shows visitors the location of the endangered falcons and their nest during peregrine watch in Acadia National Park.

On Saturday alone, about 160 people stopped to catch the action of the state-listed endangered falcons at a “peregrine watch” site in the Precipice Trail parking area below a nest high on the east face of Champlain Mountain.

“We got a bird up,” said Park Ranger Andrew Wolfgang, pointing to the cliffs when one of the endangered falcons flew back to the nest after a brief absence. “It’s a really nice look at an adult in this scope right now.”

Wolfgang and Samuel Ruano, a peregrine falcon interpretive guide and raptor intern, supervised the use of two spotting scopes that allow visitors some excellent views of the peregrine falcons. Wolfgang and Ruano also spoke frequently to visitors about the history of the peregrines in the park and the need to temporarily close popular hiking trails to give the nestlings time to mature.

With the scopes, visitors could clearly see a peregrine falcon perched upright on the cliff face outside the nest or even the nestlings themselves.

“Amazing,” said Keith Spencer, a grade 7 English teacher in the public schools of Everett, MA, after he looked through the scope and saw a falcon. Continue reading