"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." ~ John Muir

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Shore Path - Bar Harbor

One of my favorite strolls when staying in Bar Harbor, which we usually do at sunset, is the Shore Path. It’s located on the shores of the northeast corner of Mount Desert (where Bar Harbor is). The path is about 0.8 miles long and passes a lot of historical locations. The offshore scenery of the island backdrops, and tall ships and sail boats isn’t bad either. I read on one site that the Shore Path was created or established in 1880 and people from all over the world have walked it.

Shore Path Trailhead Sign

Tall ship at town pier

Sale boat the town pier

The Shore Path starts (at the northern trailhead) at the Town Pier where there’s a sign explaining the origins of the foot path. This is located just north of Agamont Park where there are some cool cannons to view up on the grassy slopes.

After the park, you pass by the Bar Harbor Inn on your right and head down the main path which hugs the shore next to Frenchman Bay. The pathway is pretty wide, about the width of a large sidewalk and is made up of crushed stone with some larger stones sticking up in some places. They definitely act like tripping hazards for little kids. The shore side of the trail has a built up stonewall, I’m guessing to hold back the tide when high.

The Shore Path

The Shore Path

Along the way, you pass by many signs placed by The Museum in the Streets. They were numbered and gave information on historical locations throughout Bar Harbor. I originally thought they were just on the Shore Path, but noticed the sign numbers on the path were only from 20 to 25, so there must be 19 more kicking around the town.

An example of the "The Museum in the Streets" display

There was also evidence of some older sea tending features like hooks embedded in rocks and holes in stones on the side of the trail. When I see stuff like this, I always wonder what they were used for.

Cool historical features in rocks

At the halfway point, you pass Grant Park on your right. It’s a small, open park which is perfect for tossing a ball around. Just past the park, on the rocky shores stands Balance Rock. There's also a sign explaining how it's been an attraction for many years.

Grant Park

Balance Rock

One of the coolest things on this walk was caused by the weather conditions at the time. It was close to rain, as we felt a few sprinkles and it was very humid. It allowed fog to roll into the harbor, creating a cool cloud cover on top of the water, as well as on top of the islands! It was an awesome site to see. My pictures don’t capture how cool this really looked.

 Cool fog on islands

And more fog

And more fog

And more fog

Near the end of the path, you cross a small wooden bridge and turn right (west) toward town, where the path ends on Wayman Lane. From there, we headed back down through the town, creating a loop…while enjoying a stop at a local ice cream shop.

Bridge before trail heads back to town

Stonewall on the side of the trail near the end

Section heading away from the shore, toward town

Map against GPS. Map on left taken from BarHarborInfo.com

I know this isn’t really a “hike” but thought it was worthy of a post. The Shore Path is something that anyone visiting the Island should checkout for its historical significance, quaintness and beauty!


Monday, August 15, 2016

South Bubble and Bubble Rock - Acadia National Park

On the fourth day of vacation, the family and I decided to venture a little further into Acadia National Park, to the north end of Jordan Pond to a small, mounding mountain called South Bubble! The Bubbles (North Bubble and South Bubble) are two smaller mountains next to each other that look like two half spheres protruding from the earth. Very similar to the Cannon Balls over Lonesome Lake, these Bubbles look over Jordan Pond. South Bubble is pretty bald on the top with some fragile alpine vegetation and is the location of the famous Bubble Rock.

We started at “The Bubbles/Bubble Rock” Trailhead off from Park Loop Road, located on the west side just before the road meets the banks of Jordan Pond. The trailhead has a kiosk with a map and one of the famous Acadia trail signs made from an upright, wooden log. I believe the first trail we hoofed was “Bubbles Divide”. The trail ascended gently through hardwood forest and had pretty easy footing, with few rocks and roots.

 First portion of the trail

 Hole features in rocks on the side of the trail

Great trail work by trail maintainers!

The first junction we came to was pretty quick and we continued straight to head toward the bubbles. Again, this trail gently climbed and quickly came to another split, where South Bubble was to the left and North Bubble was to the right. We took a left and the trail became a bit steeper, but was still pretty easy. One thing that helped was the phenomenal trail work that has been done. It’s been setup with logs and rocks to be a huge staircase. This was great for the kids. So, huge kudos goes out to the trail workers on this leg, they did a great job!!!

North Bubble from first viewpoint

 Upper portion of the trail

More trail...really fantastically maintained

Mushrooms on the trail

About 0.2 miles before the summit, on the right side of the trail is a view point with a large area to take a rest and sprawl your stuff out. There’s some great views toward North Bubble, toward some mountains on the ridge line to the west (not sure which ones) and toward Jordan Pond’s north end. After taking a few photographs, we continued up toward the summit.

 Summit sign, slightly leaning :/

 Searl Summit Foot Shot!

Slightly restricted views from the summit cairn to the west

More restricted views

The root and rock filled, dirt trail gave way to granite ledge and small scrub blueberry bushes like you’d see near the summit of many mountains. It wasn’t long before we came to a large cairn of rocks with a summit sign publishing an elevation of 768ft. Although this seems pretty small, it felt pretty big when the base of the mountain is actual sea level!

 The eastern slopes of Cadillac Mountain. You could see cars making their way up and down the auto road...didn't come out in the picture, though.
 Bubble Rock...the picture doesn't do it justice. It's probably 10 feet tall or so.
Old pins in the summit ledges...maybe for an old antenna or tower structure. Not sure what.

To the northeast of the summit is a little foot trail that allows you to make your way down to the ledges. This is where the famous Bubble Rock is teetering on the edge of the cliffs. The rock is enormous…not as large as the Glen Boulder, but a good runner up for sure! As most boulders were put in place, glacial erratic is responsible for Bubble Rock’s current perch. Like most boulders on a cliff, it looks like it could come barreling down the mountain at any time, ready to demolish the road below…it’s pretty cool! More info on the Bubble Rock here.

To the west from south ledges

Great views of Jordan Pond with open ocean way off in the distance

Small cairns on south ledges

After checking out the boulder and having lunch on the ledge, we followed the South Bubble Trail south past the summit to the southern ledges of the mountain. Here, we got a breathtaking view of Jordan Pond, with some mountains and open ocean in the background. It was worth the jaunt to this end of the mountain. After taking a few shots and enjoying the views, we headed back to the trailhead the same way we came.

Map against GPS tracking

The hike was 1.75 miles per my GPS and was very easy for little kids. I would highly recommend this hike for families with little ones (mine are two and five and had no problem). Like you would with all open ledges, though, make sure your kids stay at arm’s length as they could take an easy tumble on the cliffs.

Trail signage

The parking situation was probably the toughest part of this journey. We got their rather early so we were able to claim a parking spot. However, with limited spaces, an overcrowded National Park and no roadside parking allowed, it’s not easy to find a spot to leave your car at this trailhead. So the moral of the story is, get there early!!!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fort Knox State Historic Site and Penobscot Narrows Observatory

For vacation, we spent two nights in the Camden / Rockport, ME area and then drove up to Bar Harbor, ME for three nights. The drive northeast is a long one, about three hours on US Route 1. Since we needed to check out early in Camden and couldn't check in until later in Bar Harbor, we needed to figure out something to take up some time and break up the ride. We weren't able to find any lighthouses along the way so figured we'd just find something in Bar Harbor to do when we arrived to kill time. Little did we know, at almost the halfway point of the ride was Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, which was perfect for what we were looking for.

Inland on the western banks of the Penobscot River, Fort Knox was constructed in response to British occupation of Bangor, ME during both the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 (by response, I mean post wars). The batteries were constructed in 1844 and the main fort started in 1853. Troops were stationed there during both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, although no enemy ships threatened this location during these conflicts.

Some fun facts about the fort...It was named after Major General Henry Knox who was the first US Secretary of War. The granite used to build the fort was quarried locally from Mt. Waldo and floated down the river to the site. The fort and batteries had mounts for 135 cannons but only 74 cannons were ever brought to the site. Finally, almost 1 million dollars was spent in the construction of Fort Knox and was ongoing for 25 years. When construction finally ceased in 1869, it was still not considered finished! A brochure for Fort Knox can be found here.

 Entrance to Fort Knox

Cannon Installation Location

Looking out from cannon location

 Officer's Quarters


Another Cannon


 Powder Room

Cool Features

 Courtyard in the Center

 Open Tunnel

From the Top


Battery B

 Gun Slot

Sharing the same parking area as Fort Knox is the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. This is a very large bridge that connects the east and west banks of the Penobscot river. It's a structure that took the place of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge built back in 1931, which was in need of repairs. The new Penobscot Narrows bridge has two towering obelisks with cables suspending the platforms. The eastern obelisk has an elevator that allows visitors to reach the top and view Maine for 360 degrees.

The observation tower stands 42 stories above the river, being higher than the Statue of Liberty. It received funding in 2003 and only took 41 months to complete. There's an observation deck and picnic area. The grounds also has an extra cross-section of bridge setup so you can see the interior construction...it's a cool place for sure! A brochure for Fort Knox can be found here.

 The Penobscot Narrows Observatory

 Section of the new bridge so you can see its construction
Picnic area, old launch for the Waldo-Hancock Bridge (I think)

The Observation Tower

Cool sign showing the size of this landmark! (Bunker Hill, Statue of Liberty, Penobscot Narrows Observatory, Washington Monument)

 Through the observation tower window, to the south (toward ocean)

Toward the north, Fort Knox

 To the west, through the bridge!