Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Back in the day, before Bear brook Picnic Area was a picnic area, it was a small campground.  And where Jackson Labs is today there use to be a horse racing track.  So it only makes sense that at one time those two areas would of been connected, and as it turns out they are connected still to this day by way of a secret trail in the nearby woods.  Today the trail is most often used by workers at Jackson Lab who want to get into the park quickly for a picnic or a hike.

But before you can find the hidden trail, you first have to locate Bear Brook Picnic Area, and the park doesn't go out of its way to point it out to you.  Once you drive past the one small sign for it, you have to be ready to brake and turn into it, but many become distracted by the pond on the right with Champlain Mountain towering over it.
And to make matters worse, the entrance to the picnic area is at an odd angle, turning into it ends up pointing your car in the direction you just came from.  It is little wonder that Bear Brook Picnic area see's very little use, and on many a summer day you can go there and find the place nearly empty.  You kind of get the feeling the Park Service doesn't want the public finding it.

To locate Bear Brook Picnic area, drive along the One Way Section of the Park Loop Road, drive past the turn off for Sieur de Monts Spring, pass under the stone bridge ahead, than you will continue uphill and around a long curve, at the top of the hill the road straightens out, and if you look to the left you can see some of the picnic tables.  Switch to the left hand lane and put your blinker on to turn left, slow down, and look for a very sharp turn on your left leading into the picnic area.

Jackson Lab - Bear Brook
connector  path
latitude       44 21' 46"N
longitude     68 12' 2"W
start of path
latitude       49 21' 43"N
longitude     68 12" 0"W
picnic area
latitude       44 21' 38"N
longitude     68 11' 56"W

Once at Bear Brook Picnic Area, the map is fairly easy to follow to locate the hidden trail.  Walk up over some flat granite and the well worn trail is there.  It is not a long path and leads to a rear parking lot of Jackson Labs, with route 3 just ahead.

I had always heard that Bear Brook Picnic area was once a campground, and that there was once a horse Race Track located somewhere between the picnic area and Jackson Labs.   As it turns out, there are still a few signs of that old horse track, located in the nearby woods.  Once you enter Bear Brook Picnic area, turn right and park.  Enter the woods to the far right, and not too far in you will see some of the old fence posts still up, while others are leaning over or flat on the ground.  The fence posts run in the direction of Jackson Labs, close to the rear of the building.
The GPS numbers for the general area of the fence posts is as follows;  Latitude 44 21' 42" N Longitude 68 11' 53" W.


So I had to update this blog with some new and dare I say shocking information - Bar Harbor has its own version of Area 511.  We were walking along a paved path which runs along the front of the Jackson Lab buildings, something I have done many times over the years, I snapped a few shots - not of people, no one was in sight, when this woman comes out of one of the buildings and approaches us.  "Your not taking photos are you?"  Well, I been around long enough to know the correct answer at that point was NO so I said, no.  We were than in formed picture taking was not allowed on the grounds of Jackson Lab and that we should not be taking any photos while on their  Beam me up now.  
Perhaps it is simply that they don't want any photos taken of tiny mice straped down on tiny tables being tortured, or perhaps one of those large buildings contains the remains of little green men.  
Like I said, I have walked through there countless times over the years heading for the unmarked trail into Bear Brook Picnic area and never once has anyone confronted me like this so it was totally unexpected when it happened.


At October 15, 2017 at 2:48 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Have you found the old cedar post curve of the old race track? If you go to the picnic area's furthest parking place to the right, near the old path you mention, look for an old cedar post. Once you find one, it's easy to follow them to your right in a wide curve. Some are on the ground, some are several together/still upright. There is also what appears to be a wide old road in that area.

At October 16, 2017 at 5:49 PM , Blogger J.R. Libby said...

No, I had not seen that area, but thanks for the heads up. I will try and check that out sometime this week.


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