Thursday, April 27, 2017

THE GREAT HILL SUMMIT TRAIL - Acadia National Park

If you have ever wondered just how Great Hull got its name, well, you would have to hike up to its summit to understand how it came to be named a Great Hill.  Before you have even begun your hike, one quick look back behind you and you will have a view of the surrounding mountains that you can only get from Great Hill, and the views only get better the higher you go.  In my opinion some of the best views of Acadia national Park can be found from the sides of this hill, and even it you miss a view here and there on the way up, the trip down with be like an added bonus.

Mountains of Acadia National Park viewed from Great Hill


Kebo Mountain is drafted by its bigger brother Cadillac, with Dorr and Champlain mountains  rising in the distance, all lined up perfectly for a great photo with the ocean as a backdrop.   You will not find this view on any other mountain summit other than Great Hill.  And when hiking to the first summit, you can look across to Great Hill's twin summit - there once was a couple trails that begun at the first summit and led to the second one, but they are now pretty much ghost trails,  with small sections of those trails showing up now and than.
I like to think Great Hill got its name because many years ago it  as  a cross roads, with a number of trails connecting to Great Hill, and the Trails of Great Hill connecting to Hulls Cove and Bar Harbor
.  The Gurnee Trail was connected to the Fern Trail, from Duck Brook Bridge the Fern trail got you to the Great Hill Trails, like the Water Pipe Trail,  and as the Fern trail followed one side of Great Hill, it continued on down to near the intersection of the Cleffstone Road and West Street Ext..  Trails also ran up to both summits,  with one running down the other side toward Duck Brook Bridge, and another running down to join up with the Bracken Trail., which in effect connected hikers to the Breakneck Road, Mcfarland and Young's Mountains, and the Fawn Pond Trails.  Even the trail around Witch Hole Pond was connected to these trails.  And from the Bracken Trail you connected to the Gorge Trail and the rest of the trails in Acadia National Park.

Bar Harbor viewed from Great Hill - Acadia National Park


But following the Great Fire, the Park service decided to abandoned all trails on this side of the park - if you wanted to hike on this side, you would have to do so by means of the Carriage Roads, which as any serious hiker knows, can not compare to hiking an actual trail.
So how do you locate the main trail to the summit of Great Hill?   Here are two quick ways of getting to it so you won't miss it.
1.  From downtown Bar Harbor, drive down to the bottom of Main street, the ocean end, turn left onto West Street and drive to the end where you come to an intersection.  Route 3 - Eden street runs left and right, continue straight ahead  up West street ext..  Continue until you come to a stop sign and the Park Loop Road.  Turn left and drive past the first pull over on your left, stopping at the second pull over.    You are now at where you need to be.

Great Hill Summit - Acadia National Park


2.  From Bar Harbor, turn onto Mount Desert street by the Village Green.  Continue along Mount Desert Street, driving through  an intersection with lights on up the Eagle Lake Road, or route 233.  As you approach the large arched stone bridge, turn into the park.  At the Park Loop Road just ahead, turn right, go round a curve and pull into the pull over.
So you have the map, but I will roughly go over the layout of the trail.  Directly across from the pull over is a section of ledge, you need to go to the far left of the ledge, by the tree's, and there you will see a worn path leading up to the top of the ledge - often times pesky Ridge Runners will toss branches or limbs across the start of the trail, either kick them aside to prevent you from tripping, or step over or around them.
Just as soon as you reach the top, stop and turn toward the hill, with your back toward the road, and you will see a small opening in the tree's, walk toward it and you will see a section of worn trail which takes you to the first section of open granite.

Abandoned Great Hill Summit Trail


Get up onto that open granite and walk across it, moving upward, and just ahead you will come to another worn section of trail, which quickly leads to more open granite.  Continue tomove upward and just ahead is a long stretch of worn trail which will end at another section of open granite with a very huge boulder at rest a short ways off the trail.



View From Side of Great Hill - Acadia National Park


It's that area where the boulder is where you want to be.  Now head toward the woods, to the left, and look for a narrow well worn path, that path will lead you to the summit of Great Hill.
When my kids were younger we would come up here just before dusk, and once night settled in look up at the sky and watch for shooting stars.  Sometimes we would just set on a large rock and watch as planes in the distance landed and took off from the Bar Harbor Airport.  Locals simply refer to this trail as the Great Hill Summit Trail.
But the summit trail was only one of the official trails on Great Hill in Acadia national Park.  Another lost trail began at the corner of Cleffstone Road and West Street extension and made its way to the same summit.   A trail known as the Fern Trail ran pretty much along the side of the duck Brook road, located just inside the woods and passing through long open areas with ferns.  Another trail began further along the duck Brook road and passed straight up the hill, passing between both peaks and down the other side toward the park Loop road.   Another trail ran from the Fern Trail all along one side of Great Hill, down past the area of Duck Brook Bridge, before connecting to the Bracken Trail.  The Bracken Trail ran from the Duck Brook Road to the Park Loop Road.  And half way along the Bracken Path another trail ran up that side of Great Hill to its other summit.
I would be the first to agree that all told, that is a lot of trails for one small area, but Great Hill in reality is a pretty large area, just try walking around the entire hill some day and see how large the area is.  The Park Service says all the trails were abandoned on Great hill because of the great fire, which they say left the soil on the hill fragile.  Yet nearby carriage roads were not abandoned because of the fire..  Simply put, many locals feel the Park Service simply did not want hiking trails in that section of the park and used the fire as an excuse to abandoned all the trails in the area, and this includes other trails like the Fawn Pond Trail, the Gurnee Trail, and others.



GREAT HILL - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK


 GREAT HILL GPS NUMBERS

Park Loop Road Pull Over
Latitude       - 44 - 23' 3" N
Longitude     - 68 - 13' 47" W

Start Of Path
Latitude        44 - 23' 3"N
Longitude      68 13' 48"W

Open Granite
Latitude         44 23' 5"N
Longitude       68 13' 49"W

Worn Path At Woods
Latitude         44 23' 7"N
Longitude       68 13' 51"W

Great Hill Summit
Latitude         44 23' 3"N
Longitude       68 13' 47"W

1 Comments:

At September 18, 2017 at 6:58 AM , Blogger Bill K said...

Thanks for the post, this was a great little hike!

 

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