Monday, November 17, 2014


For many years the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park held a secret that some did not ever want to see the light of day.  The secret the Cliffs of Champlain Mountain held was a huge cave, which many years ago the Park Service abandoned.  By abandoned, it simply means the name Great Cave no longer showed up on hiking maps, signs directing hikers to the cave were removed, and the trail was no longer maintained.  But abandoned does not mean you can no longer hike it, in fact the park service has said that hikers may seek out and hike any abandoned trail in the park.
Abandoned Trails of Acadia - The great Cave

Rudolph Brunnow - the man who build sections of the Precipice trail, was looking for a way to get more hikers to climb the Precipice trail.  His plan, build a connecting loop from one section of the Precipice trail and have it lead to The Great Cave, and the loop would continue on to a second section of the Precipice trail.  His plan was to make the Great Cave on the side of Champlain Mountain as the gem that would get hikers coming to the much larger Precipice trail.  The VIA felt the new trail loop from the Precipice trail to Great Cave wold attract even more hikers to the trail as well, and gave Brunnow the go ahead for the trails construction.

Abandoned Trails of Acadia - old map of Great Cave

  Brunnow constructed a trail that included stone steps and at one spot a rock and metal bridge. 


I recently heard from Nick Thorndike who brought us very good news, he has discovered the other half of the Great Cave Loop.  Not only has Nice discovered it, he has also sent in a photo of the stone steps leading upward above the cave - this is a huge find because I know a lot of you have contacted me asking if anyone has discovered that half of the trail yet.
So once at the Great Cave, When facing the cave begin to walk around the left side and being looking on you're right for the steps , .(see photo below sent by by Nick) which run about the whole way up except for where you pass through a blueberry patch on the right.  The trail finally comes to a footbridge which leads you to the official upper section of the Precipice Trail.
Stone Steps - Great Cave Trail - Acadia National Park - photo submitted by Nick Thorndike

So we now have documented the entire Great Cave Loop, along with photos - a big thank you goes out to all who helped make this possible.
George B. Dorr, in honor of the work crew that helped build the Precipice Trail, built a miniature version of the Precipice trail by Glen Mary Park in downtown Bar Harbor.  It was on a cliff with ladders, metal bridges  and iron rings so people could go there and practice before attempting to hike the real thing.


UPDATE -  I just learned that what we had found in that area most likely was a retaining wall that may of come down, which would explain the rubble.  And we did search but were unable to locate and signs of the Little Precipice Dorr had built along that cliff, so most likely it was taken down many years ago.
If you plan on hiking to Great Cave, be prepared for a treat, because people who have been to it say it is an amazing site, with an opening of 100 feet high and a cave that runs about 100 feet into the mountain side.  Flashlights are a must.  You can also go online to Youtube where there is at least one video that was done of the Great Cave, check it out at the link below...


The map  shows the location of Great Cave, and the boulder field is shortly after climbing past the first section of the Precipice trail that has a few iron rungs that help you over a large boulder.  This boulder has a story in itself.  Some say the trail passed over that huge boulder to encourage some hikers to turn back, and the park service even has a name for that section - the turn around.


If you need a larger copy of the map, google LOST AND ABANDONED TRAILS OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK - I have many maps on that site.
The following GPS numbers were sent in by  Zhanna Galas and we are very grateful for those.


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