Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hiking the Trails of Acadia NP's Schoodic Peninsula

ANP's Schoodic Peninsula trails
In early May my wife and I visited the Schoodic Peninsula to hike up Schoodic Head, a 440-foot high coastal mountain. This is an area of Acadia National Park across Frenchman Bay that is off the beaten track for Park visitors to Mount Desert Island, as it is about a 48-mile, 75-minute drive from Bar Harbor, ME.

Three trails lead to Schoodic Head. We did a 2-mile loop hike from the Blueberry Hill parking lot, which is on the one-way road bearing left away from the Schoodic Education and Research Center and the Schoodic Point parking lot. We walked the level Alder Trail for 3/4 mile before turning right at the Schoodic Head trail post to start the ascent. Along the way we passed an active beaver habitat and enjoyed seeing Black and White, Yellow-rumped and Blackburnian Warblers.

The heavily wooded 0.70-mile ascent to Schoodic Head has intriguing rock formations, bogwalks and stone and logcrib steps.

Schoodic Head summit station benchmark

The summit is marked by a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey triangulation station benchmark stamped Schoodic 1860.*1

Our 1.25-mile descent to the main road via the Anvil Trail involved a stop at an overlook that provided a beautiful view of MDI's mountains. Upon reaching the road we found the parking lot just 500 feet to the right. Both the ascent and descent trails are moderate in difficulty, but extra caution is advised when they are wet. We did not hike the East Trail off the summit, but that will happen on the next visit.

Acadia NP's 2,000 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula were donated in 1927 by heirs of John Godfrey Moore, a Mainer from nearby Steuben who made his fortune in NYC from his lumber, telegraph and financial businesses. Moore earlier had established the Grindstone Neck community in Winter Harbor as an optional wealthy enclave to those on MDI. His cottage, which he named Far from the Wolf, a reference to Wall Street, is still there. Moore's bronze memorial plaque is attached to a rock in the Schoodic Point parking lot.*2

Moore memorial plaque
A few years after the Moore donation an interesting June 1931comment appeared in a National Geodetic Survey datasheet about the Schoodic Head station benchmark: "The station is in the Acadia National Park, on what was until recently known as Schoodic Mountain, but which is now called Schoodic Head by the park authorities, probably to distinguish it from another Schoodic Mountain some 16 miles to the n[orth]."

Hikers might want to visit the above-mentioned SERC, Acadia NP's research learning center. It occupies a former U.S. Navy base that had its origin on MDI's Otter Cliff peninsula where the Fabbri Picnic Area is now located. The site was the innovation of New Yorker and Bar Harbor summer resident Alessandro Fabbri, who established it in 1917 during WW I. He subsequently offered it to the War Department after realizing the site's communications operators could listen to enemy radio communications in Europe. In the early 1930s John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who was building the Park Loop Road, proposed to finance the Navy's relocation of the site to the Schoodic Peninsula, on property obtained from the Moore donation. The Navy agreed and in 1935 commissioned the new base there. The French Romanesque building just beyond the SERC entrance was the former base headquarters. It resembles the two gatehouses JDR, Jr., built for his MDI carriage roads. The Navy decommissioned the base in 2002 and returned the property to the Park. Fabbri's bronze memorial plaque is in a traffic island opposite the Park Loop Road entrance to the Fabbri Picnic Area.*3

Fabbri memorial plaque
1 Schoodic Head benchmark GPS location: N44° 21.046'  W068° 03.217'
2 Moore memorial GPS location: N44° 21.046'  W068° 03.217'
3 Fabbri memorial GPS location: N44° 18.853'  W068° 11.799'