Acadia’s vistas

When plans were drawn up for what would become Acadia National Park, special attention was paid to the system of motor roads and carriage paths to take maximum advantage of Mount Desert Island’s scenic vistas.

From Frederick Law Olmstead’s grand plan for the carriage roads to the design of the Park Loop Road, having pull-outs to frame and highlight the scenic views has always been part of the goal. Vistas were strategically placed and well-marked on original documents outlining the master plan for Acadia.

In recent years, however, many of those vistas have become overgrown, their views almost completely blocked. Good examples can be found on Paradise Hill and at the Champlain Overlook on the Park Loop Road. From many of those pull-outs, the ocean and distant landmarks such as lighthouses are now invisible when there are leaves on the trees.

Perhaps the most obscured vista is at the Bubble Pond overlook near Jordan Pond. The view of that geological feature has been hidden behind trees so long that only the name hints at the parking area’s original purpose.

This fall, park officials begin a scheduled program to restore, then maintain key vistas. Cutting trees in a national park is never undertaken lightly; those selected for removal not only block the view, but also diminish visitor enjoyment of key features envisioned by the park’s original designers, builders and backers.

With proper and routine removal of vegetation at key overlooks, all of the park’s motor and carriage roads avoid the risk of becoming boring paths through the trees.