17
Jun-2014

New route lets Blackwoods campers reach the shore

This summer, Acadia National Park visitors staying at Blackwoods Campground can walk from their campsites to access the ocean, the village of Otter Creek, Sand Beach and trails up several mountains.

The new Village Connector trail, which was completed for the 2014 season, links the campground to the Park Loop Road causeway (“Quarry Path”), and continues to connect with Grover Avenue in Otter Creek (“Otter Cove Trail”). Between the two segments, the trail is just shy of a mile long.

“It’s going to be very user-friendly, very easy to walk on,” said trail crew supervisor Chris Barter. “We’re trying to encourage as much use as possible. A lot of it will have a nice graded gravel surface. There are some steps, because there’s a very steep grade descending toward the causeway from Blackwoods.”

From the newly opened Village Connector trail, Somesville resident Heather Pellegren and her canine companion Alice reach the Quarry Path (Park Loop Road causeway), where she pauses to take in the view. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

From the newly opened Village Connector trail, Somesville resident Heather Pellegren and her canine companion Alice reach the Quarry Path (Park Loop Road causeway), where she pauses to take in the view.
PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

The park’s trails system is managed according to a plan developed in the late 1990s. The nonprofit Friends of Acadia raises money to contribute to trails management through its Acadia Trails Forever program. Other funding comes from park entrance fees, and special projects funding through the National Park Service.

Development of the Trails Management Plan included community input, expertise from park staff and help with landscape architecture from the Olmstead Center in Boston. The trail system is on the National Historic Register, and its historic and cultural significance makes it a priority.

The planning process involved determining which old trails had to be abandoned, those that required restoration and identifying where new paths might be needed.

“This connector was an important part of the system,” said trail foreman Gary Stellpflug. “Several trails that used to dead end will now connect.”

Enabling campers at Blackwoods to get to hiking trails and some of the most popular sites in the park without having to get in their cars will reduce vehicle traffic and enhance visitors’ experience.

The trail crew will be large this year, with a seasonal staff of almost 30. Some anticipated funding from the National Park Service regional office was withdrawn, Stellpflug said, “but Friends of Acadia stepped in and restored most of it, so we’re able to go ahead with almost everything we’d planned.”

Acadia’s seasonal crew works six months beginning May 5. There are seven crew leaders who work eight months of the year to prepare and plan the work. Stellpflug and a few others work nearly year-round, usually about 10 months.

Work on the Village Connector began last summer.

“We picked away at it with partial crews when we could,” Barter said. “In the fall, the plan was, ‘Everybody meet at the quarry path and that’s going to be our last project,’ but then we got shut down.”

The federal government shutdown in October meant almost all park employees were furloughed.

“When we got back, we had a couple weeks and buttoned things up for the winter,” Barter said.

The trail winds through fairly dense forest, mostly pines and other evergreen trees on the Quarry Path side of the causeway. Watch for lush mosses and delicate lichen, and an old stone-lined well.

Heather Pellegren descends steps enabling hikers to pick up the trail, on the other side of Park Loop Road causeway, going to Otter Creek village. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Heather Pellegren descends steps enabling hikers to pick up the trail, on the other side of Park Loop Road causeway, going to Otter Creek village.
PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Across the causeway on the Otter Cove trail, hikers can see one of the largest stands of ash trees in the park.

“A large part of the trail follows an old quarry road,” Stellpflug said. A quarry once operated there and ran Hall Quarry overlooking Somes Sound in Mount Desert.

“If you look around from the trail you can see old cut stones covered in moss,” Stellpflug said.

Liz is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Islander since 2013. She grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor. [email protected]