Acadia’s Trails – Part I, Introduction
The ice and snow continue to prevent me from doing any hiking on the trails here without investing in some serious winter hiking gear (which I’m not going to do). My feet are itching to get on them as I’ve been researching the history of various trails around the park and the descriptions of what you will find along the way.
But for now, I’ll need to keep daydreaming and reading.
The story of the trails of Acadia is a long and varied one. Over the last 200 years the trails have been built, used, burned, rebuilt, closed, neglected, revived and renamed. For those of us fortunate to visit Acadia today we have the opportunity to hike more than 150 miles of trails across the park and surrounding communities.
What makes hiking in Acadia so interesting is the variety of hikes you can find in a relatively small geographic area. There are hikes along the ocean and bay, hikes around ponds and lakes, hikes up rocky cliffs, hikes through quiet woods, hikes along burbling streams, hikes around and over mountains, whatever environment you prefer and whatever your skill (and energy) level, there’s a hike for you. While the carriage roads are designed for more level walking with few hazards, a typical “true” hike in Acadia is going to involve two things – tree roots and rock to rock climbing. A good sturdy pair of hiking shoes with good tread is a must if you are going to take on most of these trails.
For many years the trails in Acadia were mostly forgotten and/or poorly maintained. In fact, by the 1970’s and early ’80’s the trails were much maligned by hiking publications around the country. But fortunately in the late 1980’s a change in direction was adopted and revival of the trail system began in earnest. Today a strong partnership exists with the National Park service and Friends of Acadia to fund trail restoration and maintenance. Examples of this are found throughout the system. Boardwalks erected over wetlands, iron ladders and rungs on trails such as “the Beehive”, and “Precipice, granite steps repaired or replaced, crushed gravel on some level trails, “blue blaze” paint (love the blue blaze) and rock cairns to mark the trails.
One of the most recent changes has been the restoration of older, “original” trail names so having a current map is most helpful. Signposts indicating the distance to certain “landmarks” also helps the hiker gauge the distance yet to be covered.
In part two of this series I will discuss the early history of Acadia’s trail system, beginning with the Native Americans that lived on the island.