Tuesday, May 2, 2017


The Duck Brook Trail, or path as they were once called, dates back to the 1800's.  If you have ever hiked up the length of Duck Brook, as I have a number of times, than you are aware of just how rough some sections of the hike can be today.  In fact attempting to walk along either side of the brook the entire distance can be a slow process in places, so why is the hike so rough today when back in the 1800's the hike was described as a quiet pleasant walk? 
My own thoughts on this use to be landslides most likely took out sections of the trail, and that may well be true in a couple spots, but that was not the secret of making the Duck Brook Path a quiet pleasant walk.  You see, the path included a number of rustic wooden bridges, the more fancy ones had roofs over them.  Learning that, a couple things quickly became clear to me.  You see, stretches of the Duck brook Path can still be found today and some are still in good shape.  But i now know when the path builders reached a really tough steep section of ground, they simply placed a wooden bridge across the brook and the trail picked up on the other side until the next rough section meant another wooden bridge and the path crossed back to the other side again.
Duck Brook Trail - Acadia National Park
I have old maps with the Duck Brook Path marked out on them and clearly the maps show the duck brook Path running up and along only one side of the brook.  Back in the 1800's there was no park here, and the paths back than often crossed over privately owned lands, as did the duck Brook trail.  It could be that at some point in time the land owners decided to take down the bridges, which forced the trail to go along only one side of the brook.

But something else came to mind when I read of the rustic wooden bridges that  crossed the brook, the Gurnee Trail.  You see, there are different accounts of just where the Gurnee trail began, with two accounts I have come across placing its starting point on Eden Street in bar harbor.    I could really get into this, but to learn more on the Gurnee trail, see my blog on it.  But for now, knowing that wooden bridges  crossed Duck Brook suddenly shows how easily the Gurnee trail could of crossed over Duck Brook, as some of the accounts claim it did.
Duck Brook Trail - over grown and in rough shape
In the photo I am looking at it appears there was benches built along the bridges that were covered with roofs.  One can almost imagine setting there on a quiet sunny summer evening as the brook passed below you with its babbling waters and the birds sang from the nearby tree's while you sat there becoming lost in a good book.  Perhaps even a deer or two might come out by the edge of the woods.
Here is a short piece Martin's Guidebook wrote on the Duck brook Path;
"The real attraction of the walk is the ramble along the brook, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, and not seldom in the bed of the brook itself.  The gentleman to whom the estate of the brook now belongs  has constructed a path with rustic seats and bridges for quite a distance, so that both the waterfalls may be reached with no great difficulty.  Beyond however, the walk becomes a scramble, for which one must have not only stout boots but well trained boots."  This piece was found in the book Pathmakers.

Bat Monitoring Device
There seems to be some type of either camera or mic tied to a tree above the large metal box.  As you can see there is a very thick chain running across the ground.  Further to the right there is another device tied up in a tree as well, though I did not see any metal box nearby.

view of the second arch from down by the brook
Pathmakers also says that in 1890 Duck Brook Path went from Eden Street all the way to the Eagle Lake Road, which means it must of crossed some really rough sections of ground.  On my post on the Water pipe Trail, I have a photo of the first  falls you encounter as you make your way fro Eden Street along the old trail.  At that first falls I would not attempt to try and hike up and along it, the waters above the fall are very rapid.  From the start of the Water Pipe Trail, instead of taking a right, you can follow a rough path straight down to the brooks edge, the area is steep but you can make use of tree's to assist you down to the water.  It is just a thrill to set upon a large flat rock there and watch and listen to the raw power of the brook as the water boils white before you.

start of trail moving left, below bridge

It is hard to imagine the trail continued through this location, as there is really no place to walk along, and that still hidden to this day, somewhere further up is yet another magnificent falls.    You don't have to see it, one can hear its roar from the Duck Brook Road up above the Brook. 
Duck Brook - Acadia National Park
As far as arriving at Duck brook, there is three ways to do so on this end of the brook.  The first is to walk down the banking to the brook from Eden Street and follow the brook from there.  The second approach is by way of the towering triple arch bridge you come to shortly after leaving the visitors Center.  Park and find a way down below the bridge you feel comfortable with.  The waters of Duck Brook pass beneath the center arch and so does the old trail, though for a stretch you need to poke along through brush and woods before arrivi9ng at worn sections of the trail by the waters edge.  Even the waters of the brook beneath the bridge are something to behold. 
The other approach is from near the start of the Water Pipe Trail, there are a few places not far down the path where you can safely get down below to the edge of the brook. 

Here Witch Hole Brook joins Duck Brook

So why is the path in the area  below the stone bridge so destroyed?  The answer is a pretty simple one, during the years that the duck Brook Path was popular, there was no National Park and no bridge.  After the park came into being, the bridge was built, and a large section of the trail was destroyed in and around the area of the bridge.
I found it interesting when I read in Pathmakers that in 1923 that two new flights of steps had been built from Duck Brook to Witch Hole Pond, not sure where those were located.  It goes on to say that 68 stepping stones had been added by the brook.  This might explain why a number of large perfectly square blocks of granite litter the brook in different spots, as though the blocks were pushed over to lie in deeper water.  Once the path had been abandoned this seems like something the park might of done to help discourage people from walking along the brook.
Abandoned Duck Brook Trail
The waters of Duck Brook are a long ways from the waters of Witch Hole Pond, and there would only be on reason to put in two flights of steps to help get people to the pond, the far banking of the brook is high and steep, steps would of been needed to get people up that very steep banking and to the carriage road.  Perhaps we have two lost stairways somewhere along the brook.

Duck Brook - Acadia National Park

Duck Brook - Acadia National Park


We were walking down to the old water Pipe trail today and as we got closer to the trail, we noticed we were not hearing any roar of rushing water we usually hear coming from Duck Brook, so we decided to cut through the woods and go straight to the brook.  We were both shocked and thrilled at what we found, the brook, a wild fast moving beast of water had been silenced, not even a whisper coming from it, and in many places no water at all, it had dried up.
So we stepped down into the center of it and walked up a good long stretch of it, a section up until now we had never been able to access.  This is the first time I have ever seen the brook dried out like this.
Hard to believe, but this photo was taken from the center of the falls, check out the video further up and you will see how powerful the water usually is blasting through here. 
This is just behind the falls, at almost any other time you could not cross this area of the brook, it was just amazing to be able to walk up the center of this.
So we finally located one of the two stone steps that was built leading from Duck Brook up the steep banking in the direction of Witch Hole Pond.  It is hard to see unless your there, but cut stone blocks run all the way up the banking at an angle, except the blocks are now knocked over or pushed out of place.

In the above photo you can see what we saw, some of the actual stepping stones of the old duck Brook Trail, we came upon a couple places like this.  Today the brook is so deep and powerful when water is flowing through it these stepping stones would likely be under water.
One year we found a six pack of beer floating in the waters of Duck Brook, but a bag of rocks?  It made no sense why someone would place a bag of rocks in the center of the brook, that is, it didn't make sense until we saw the note inside the bag - which could not be seen before we picked the bag up.  Itn says this belongs to the National Park and contains a water level monitor in it, and sure enough we saw some tiny device in with the rocks.  It also said not to remove the bag, so we placed the bag back into the small pool of water as we had found it.
We came across several areas where you could see sections of the old Duck Brook Trail, this is the side view built up with stones.
A crazy scene from War of the World?  Clearly these are not that old and appear as though they might be supports for something down the road???  These were bolted onto a large rock near the brook.

The old Bar Harbor Water Pipe runs along the bank of the brook here.
In this photo you can see a few of those 68 granite stepping stones the park had placed along the brook many years ago.  Each block has cut marks, and we must of located close to 45 of the 68 blocks.  The perfectly square granite blocks can be found all along the brook.

My son trying to figure out where all the water disappeared to.......
This was an amazing hike along a stretch of the brook you normally can't get access to. 


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