Open to the Public!
Event ID: 99866 Event Status: On Schedule
Event Description
A 3 mile loop up Dorr Mt in Acadia. Details from Maine Today: — Acadia National Park is a beautiful coastal playground for hikers, horseback riders, kayakers, canoers, campers and bird watchers. For the past month, it's also been the site of an unsolved mystery after the park opened a long abandoned trail on Dorr Mountain. Homans Path, an unusual trail that winds along a stone staircase, is believed to have been abandoned before the fire of 1947, said Gary Stellpflug, the park's trail foreman. Stellpflug said nobody knows why the path was abandoned, or why its remarkable granite staircase was never finished. "There is no trail at the end. The Homan Path just sort of ended," said Cliff Olson, who was hired by the Friends of Acadia to work on the newly rehabilitated trail. Homans Path follows a rock staircase that is like something out of "Fantasia," with perfectly sized steps wrapped around the mountain's scenic side. As you rise above the treeline about halfway up, you walk into the view. There you see the coastline and the bulbous islands that are Sheep Porcupine and Bald Porcupine, looking like giant mossy stones in Frenchman's Bay. But as quickly as the path offers this pleasing, far-reaching view, it just as suddenly takes it away. At one of many plateaus the trail leads back into a wooded area and back along a dirt path. From whence it came, the path returns. "Other trails, we know when they closed and why. This is pretty unique," Stellpflug said. "Others don't have the kind of stonework that Homans has. There are no examples of trails that just dead-end. All the trails connect. (Homans Path) is an interesting thing." Stellpflug said the trail opened in 1916 and is shown on maps from 1941, but that's the last time the trail's existence was documented. Part of the mystique around Homans Path is that Acadia National Park was founded close to it, near Dorr Mountain. The mountain that the path climbs up was named for George Dorr, who helped establish Acadia as the first national park east of the Mississippi. In 1901, Dorr and others established the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations to preserve land on Mount Desert Island. By 1913, the organization acquired 6,000 acres near Dorr Mountain and Dorr gave it to the government in 1916. That year, President Wilson established Sieur de Monts National Monument, which eventually became Acadia National Park. Today the park covers 35,000 acres and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, largely because of its unique trails. "There are not a lot of trails throughout the nation with a concentration of highly crafted stonework on trails like this," Stellpflug said. The rehabilitation of Homans Path is part of the park's newest program: Acadia Trails Forever, a joint effort between the park and the Friends of Acadia. Through $9 million raised from the Friends group and a matching $4 million in federal funds, the park plans to rehabilitate, maintain and manage use of the park trails. Using a new trail management plan, the park will open eight miles of abandoned trails, Stellpflug said. Homans is one of the first to open, he said. Olson said it was nice before, having the trail a secret available only to bushwhackers and those who chose to wander off the established trails in the park, something the park welcomes visitors to do. Olson said the Homans Path offers a unique hike because of the unusual stonework, which he said is more extraordinary than the stunning view. "The view is fantastic," Olson said. "But the stonework is impressive. It's gorgeous scenery up Dorr Mountain. But, what makes it exceptional . . . is the stonework." The path was finished last fall, but the roughly mile-long trail officially opened on July 16. Stellpflug said even now it doesn't get as much traffic as other popular trails in the park. Mountains such as Beehive, Gorham, Acadia and Beech see as many as 500 people a day, Stellpflug said. As many as 72 percent of park visitors go hiking in these areas, according to the park. Yet, there are 130 miles of trails in the park and as many as 60 trails. The Dorr Mountain trails are among the less visited paths, according to park officials. Many trails in Acadia National Park have little iron bars, rungs and ladders along granite steps to help hikers scale seaside rocks and mountains. Homans has few pipes or iron pins, only two the trail crew was able to identify, according to the park. "Emery Path is similar, it's from the same era," Stellpflug said of another Dorr Mountain trail. "But it has hundreds of pipes." Another unusual aspect of the path is the placement of the stone steps. Throughout Acadia, stone steps are either set one behind the other, or one on top of the other, Stellpflug said. On Homans Path , however, he said the stone steps are set in a unique way, with each step carved to fit around the one in front. "That had never been seen before until this path, though we've worked on plenty of paths of its era here," Stellpflug said. Like archeologists trying to uncover and preserve a piece of the past, the trails crew carefully studied where boulders had fallen, stone walls had collapsed and steps had rolled away. Then they tried to re-create the path as it would have looked more than 60 years ago, when it last appeared on maps. When it was used in the early 1940s, the path had two ways to approach it. Neither has been restored. Instead, a new path about 40 yards long was created by the Friends group to provide a quicker entry, Stellpflug said. In one sense, Homans Path appears sculpted in its perfection. In other ways, it has a natural look in the way it fits into the mountainside. The fact that there is no explanation for why Homans was made differently - and why it was left unfinished - underscores the strange perfection of the trail. "People thought it was both a beautiful granite-stepped trail with lovely views of the great meadow and the Porcupine islands, and there was a little bit of mystery where the trail ended on the ridges," said Friends stewardship director Marla Major. Stellpflug said there are about 350 to 360 stone steps leading up the Homans Path, and the trail crew reset only about 50, which means much of the path appears just as it did almost 100 years ago when it was made. The top of the trail also looks much as it did early in the last century, Stellpflug said. The fallen, old trees that were left after the great fire look like a graveyard for old stumps, adding to the haunting image of the Homans Path. Major said the Friends group applauded the park's decision not to create a built-up trail connecting the Homans Path to Emery, because the nondescript woodsway keeps the Homans mystery alive. Stellpflug said park staff struggled with the decision of whether to connect the two trails so that they would be continuous. To get from Homans to the Emery Path now is not hard. The distance between the two trails is not long. But the fact that one clearly constructed trail ends some distance from another well-crafted trail is obvious - and strange. "We wanted to tell the Homans story and if we continued it would not have been (told)," Stellpflug said. "The Homans mystery, I think we captured that."
Event Details
Event: Bangor New Member Hike: Homan's Path, Acadia NP Members: Free
Where: Non Members: Free
Address: n/a Meeting Place: Odlin Rd Park and Ride, Bangor
Location Website: n/a Meeting Address: Odlin Rd
Meet Loc Website: n/a Meeting Time: 9:00 AM
Location Phone: n/a Parking Cost: $0.00
Start Date-Time: 08/02/2009 - 10:15 AM Reg. Deadline: 08/02/2009
* End Date-Time: 08/02/2009 - 10:15 AM PrePay Required: No

Event Leader:
Scott Bennett
Contact Leader

Location (More Detail)
Event Location: Not Given
Address: n/a
Meet At: Odlin Rd Park and Ride, Bangor
Address: Odlin Rd
Directions: Odlin Rd @ I-395 across from Ramada Inn, Bangor ME

Skill Level: Moderate Max Attendance: No Limit

* estimated

 Maine Outdoor Adventure Club . P.O. Box 11251, Portland, ME 04104  . (207) 775-MOAC  (775-6622)
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