An early map showing lands in the newly-created Sieur de Monts National Monument. Most of the lands had been donated by the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations. FILE PHOTO

Acadia Pathfinders



The story of Acadia National Park cannot be told absent acknowledgement of the people who laid out early trails and oversaw their construction. Going for “tramps,” was a popular pastime as Bar Harbor began to become one of the nation’s leading watering holes for the rich and famous.

Village Improvement Associations in each of Mount Desert Island’s village quickly became the pivot points for trail design and construction.

Many of the trails, especially on the east side of MDI, were funded by specific benefactors and carry those family names to this day.

A 1911 map of Trails on the Eastern Side of Mount Desert Island produced by noted pathfinder Waldron Bates along with Edward Rand and Herbert Jacques. FILE PHOTO

A 1911 map of Trails on the Eastern Side of Mount Desert Island produced by noted pathfinder Waldron Bates along with Edward Rand and Herbert Jacques.
FILE PHOTO

Waldron Bates was chairman of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association (VIA) from 1900 to 1909. Under his leadership more than 25 miles of hiking trails were created. He published maps and early guidebooks and developed a unique style of cairn, of a flat stone over two rocks, with a pointer on top. A legion of volunteer “Waldron’s Warriors,” help maintain those historic cairns today.

Paths developed by Herbert Jacques, who summered in a home on Schooner Head, were named using a system of colors. One example is the “Orange and Black Path.” While most were subsequently renamed, the park service has returned to the old designations in some instances.

Rudolph Brunnow, working with the Bar Harbor VIA is credited with constructing the legendary Precipice Trail up formerly inaccessible cliffs on the east side of Champlain Mountain. His former summer home, High Seas, is now owned by the Jackson Lab and can be seen from his creation.

For more than two decades, Andrew Liscomb of Bar Harbor served as Superintendent of Paths for the VIA overseeing trail work featuring dozens of permanent stone steps.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

Latest posts by Earl Brechlin (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.