Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE GURNEE TRAIL

Many years ago I began exploring the woods off of West Street, by the corner of Eden street, and discovered an old abandoned footbridge.  At the time I did not pay much attention to it and over the years pretty much forgot about that old stone footbridge.

Years later I came upon an old article on the Gurnee path.  It stated that the Gurnee path began on Cottage Street in Bar Harbor, cut across West Street, and ran along Eden Street before crossing the roadway, where it continued to follow Eden street, crossing Duck Brook  and continuing on to Hulls Cove.  It served to connect the village of Bar Harbor with the village of Hull's cove.
The Gurnee path did much more than simply connect two nearby villages.  A connecting trail once ran from the Gurnee path making its way up and across the Park Loop Road, than toward the general direction of Witch Hole Pond.  It came out on the Witch Hole carriage road, across from a section of wetland - that section of the trail between the loop road and the carriage road is still very visible and easy to follow.

The Gurnee Trail - Acadia National Park

The Gurnee Trail - Acadia National Park


GURNEE TRAIL MAP

Start of old driveway along rt. 3 Eden Street
latitude       44 24' 14" N
longitude    68 14' 3" W

stone steps
latitude       44 24' 15" N
longitude    68 14' 4" W

Worn Gurnee Trail
latitude       44 24' 15" N
longitude    68 14' 5" W






The Gurnee Trail - Acadia National Park

























According to Pathmakers, the Gurnee Path began as a sidewalk in Bar Harbor, beginning on Cottage Street, this goes along with an old piece that I had read which stated that the Gurnee Path began on Cottage Street, and followed Eden Street.  The path cost about $2,000 to build and was funded through a donation by Augustus Gurnee.  In 1924 construction was begun on the path and two years later, shortly after Gurnee's death the path was completed.
If you are interested in visiting the abandoned Gurnee Trail, or at least the section that is still in good shape, head out of Bar Harbor along route 3 - Eden street in the direction of Hulls Cove.  You will pass first the Ferry Terminal and than Sonogee on the right, shortly after that the road rounds a curve before heading into Hulls Cove.  The key is that curve, just after the curve  there is an old abandoned driveway right there on the left hand side of the roadway.   I suggest you park at the Ferry terminal and walk to that driveway.  At the end of the driveway is a flat area where a building once stood.  To the left is a set of old stone steps.
Go up the stone steps, which end at a small flat area that is paved over.  Continue straight up the hillside, the Gurnee trail is about three car lengths up that hillside and you can not miss it.  Going right on the Gurnee trail takes you to the section that crosses the bluffs, going to the left takes you to the area destroyed in order to put in telephone poles.

UPDATE
So we returned back to the Gurnee Trail today in an effort to follow it further along up along the Bluffs, and I have to say it was pushing the limits of what I will do when it comes to following an abandoned trail.  I now feel pretty safe in saying this trail ranks as the third most dangerous trail in the entire park, but only in a few places does it become that dangerous.  We came upon stretches of the trail where the trail was three feet wide at best with sheer drop offs to our right and a wall of rock to our left.  It got so bad in one location I would not go any further and turned around.  The precipice and beehive are trails known for their narrow ledges, but the Gurnee Trail deserves a mention on that short list as well.  Today was an absolute nightmare for me because I do have a problem with heights,   and the drop offs just kept getting higher and higher above route 3 below.  And therein is the major problem with the Gurnee Trail, it sticks right up to the very edge of the hillside, and it now has become clear to  me why the Park Service has no plans of reopening this trail.
We began by arriving at the abandoned driveway and making out way to the stone steps.  At the trail, we followed it right heading toward the Bluffs.  We soon arrived to the area we had always stopped at because we could not find a way beyond that point, so today we made out way up a gully away from the trail, crossed through a short section of woods, and than made our way back down to the trail.  it worked out fine, but we did not have to go to far before we were walking very close to sheer drop offs.  At one point the trail slowly made its way away from the edge as the path became much wider, rising sharply higher as we went.  But up ahead was more dangerous drop offs and that was enough for me.


This photo above is a good example of the danger to this trail as it is today.  There are a couple of pine trees growing in the center of the trail, you can't go around them to the left, or through the center, you are forced to hang onto them and make your way past them with about a foot or less of space between the trees and the drop off on the right.  I did get past this point, but called it quits up ahead, I do not like cliffs or ledges.. 





4 Comments:

At August 2, 2015 at 5:18 PM , Blogger Angela Bouchard said...

I just hiked from Breakneck Road to Fawn Pond this afternoon. The side trail to Lakewood isn't much, but Fawn Pond is fun to explore around. The easier way to Fawn Pond is to follow the trail along Lakewood Pond past the Bluffs to where there's almost a dark tunnel of trees over the old road/trail in. But I prefer the longer way in from Breakneck Road.

 
At August 2, 2015 at 6:44 PM , Blogger Angela Bouchard said...

Right now there Bar Harbor is looking at up to a 5-year upgrade to the 5-mile stretch of road out of town which includes the section belong the Gurnee Trail. Understandably, there ar committees looking into all the variables such as protecting history, how to better provide for safe biking along the route, etc. The report you were reading addressed the fact that given the road lies between the Bluffs on one side & the ocean on the other, adding a bike lane does not work. The committee member had simply researched the Gurnee Path to say, No, converting it to a bike path would also not be an option. It does, however, provide a great view of the ocean's edge from its elevated height over the road. As a memorial path, it used to have a bench associated with it...long gone now, though. Gurnee, by the way, was one of the original founders of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Society. He was a Harvard graduate & owned a 10-acre, three story cottage in town...Beau Desert, off Eden Street. After route 3 widened, the Park stopped maintaining the 0.6 mile Gurnee Path in 1960.

 
At August 5, 2015 at 3:01 PM , Blogger J.R. Libby said...

I would agree with that, it would be much harder if not impossible to place a bike path along that stretch. Have you gone to view that small stone bridge? It does appear to be built/designed after the much larger stone bridges found within the park.

 
At August 6, 2015 at 4:16 AM , Blogger Angela Bouchard said...

I have seen the bridge when passing through the area. Hadn't given it a closer look. What I would love to explore is all the little, crumbling stone stairways around the hotels just out of town on the left before COA. I get distracted driving past them & want to see them closer up.

 

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