THE ACADIA YOU HAVEN'T SEEN by  Matthew  Marchon

Hot off the press as they say is the newest tool in discovering the experience of locating and exploring secret locations and abandoned trails in Acadia National Park.  The name of the book pretty much says it all, "The Acadia You Haven't Seen - Abandoned Trails and Forgotten Places," by Matthew Marchon. 
When it comes to researching and locating hidden and secret places within Acadia National Park, no one covers this stuff like Matt does, as he is gifted as a writer as well as a photographer.  Weather it be abandoned trails, phantom trails, ghost trails, or abandoned and forgotten places within  the National Park, no one covers it the way Matthew Marchon does, and for this reason this book is a must have for your book shelf.  I predict this off trail hiking guide will be one of those books that people will be reaching for just as they do with Pathmakers - so if you have any interest at all in Abandoned Trails or learning more about the forgotten places in Acadia National Park, this book is for you.

To order a copy of THE ACADIA YOU HAVEN'T SEEN click on the link below.




Make no mistake about it, the secret castle of Schoolhouse Hill is very real, yet for those who  live and grew up in the area - the existence a castle in their back yard comes as no surprise at in - in fact many seem to not only know of it but have been  to the castle  at some point and time.  I recently asked a group of teens from Southwest Harbor if they had ever heard of this castle and their reply was "Yeah.....we go up there now and than to hang out."
The castle is said to have been built by a wealthy family who wanted a castle where they could throw parties for their guests.  The center of the castle is said to house a hugh swimming pool with towering columns with windows in an underground room that faced right into the pool.
No one I have talked to seems to know exactly how many rooms are in the castle, in part because some of the rooms are above ground and others are below ground, connected by long dark hallways.
I have been told that over the years the castle was not kept up and that today sections of the castle are in poor shape with heavy steel poles helping hold up sections of the ceilings.  In part because of its poor condition, the people who own the land today don't want people going there.
I know of people who have been caught making their way up to the castle and were given verbal warnings by the police that if they get caught on the property again they will be charged.  And all of the dirt roads leading to the castle pass by someone's home and they call the police as soon as anyone is spotted in the area.  Some of the locals have told me the only safe way up to the castle is by going behind a hotel at the corner of Kebo and Mount Desert Street and making your way up a steep hillside and that the top of that hill is right behind the castle.  To me that seems a bit dangerous, but a few locals said they simply walk up a dirt road off of Kebo steet and take their chances on not getting seen..
One thing everyone I talked to agrees on is that setting higher up on the hill and over looking the castle is a huge mansion that was built but never moved into.  Locals refer to it as THE COMPOUND - though no one seems to be sure just how it got that name.  Next to the mansion is said to be this huge artillery gun.  Some one told me if you were to fire live rounds from it you could easily hit Bar Island with it.
No one wanted to go on record, but one guy I talked to said he had called the castle home for a number of months.  One evening just before dusk he said he approached the castle as he had always done, but this time as he entered a room three men were there waiting for him.  He said one was clearly a security guard and that as soon as he spotted them he turned and ran in the direction of the nearby woods with the three men giving chase and yelling that if they ever caught him up there again he would end up in jail.  I asked if he has ever returned back to the castle since than and he smiled and replied "Hell no."


So we decided to do something different the other day and instead of trying to track down a lost or abandoned tail, we decided to follow a mountain stream, having no idea what awaited us up ahead.  We began near the same area you would go to if you wanted to follow the Green Mountain Railroad trail - as your driving along the Park Loop Road heading toward Bubble Pond and Jordan.  As you pass the Cadillac summit road, continue toward Jordan Pond, stopping at the second pull over after passing the Summit Road entrance.  Now walk back up the road in the direction you just came a short ways to where a fast moving stream passes through the woods and beneath the road.
A word of advice, if your looking for the waterfalls you need to follow that stream upward and on the left side, as the waterfalls can't be seen from the right.  You will have to hike along the stream for a ways, but it is easy going.  As you advance forward you will pass by a number of small pools of water and cascading water as it tumbles down over the rocks.  You will know when you reach the waterfalls, there is nothing like it anywhere in that area of the park.  It has high rising walls of granite and a large crystal clear poo of water at its base.  I will put up a map of this soon to make it easier to locate.  For me, this one tiny area is one of the nicest places in the park.  I know, if it is that great, where is the video - well, look no further, the link to the video is below.



A blog covering many of the people who have died in Acadia National Park over the years and keeping their memory alive.  Not many know it, but one of the people killed in Acadia National Park was a Park Ranger, who was killed by a poacher.  And as shocking as it might sound, the poacher only served one day in jail for his crime.
Another death I cover that took place in the National Park was the tragic death of a local college student who became trapped in Anemone cave - an ancient sea cave the park service has since abandoned.    His body was recovered from the cave the following day.
Than there is the man who leaned just a bit too far over a steep cliff in order to get the perfect photo of a sunset - he ended up falling to his death.
Than there is the story of the couple who stood on the rocks to have their photo taken when a large wave seemed to appear out of nowhere, sweeping them out to sea - their bodies were never recovered.
The youngest person documented to have died on the Precipice took place before there was ever a National Park here in Maine.  It is the sad and tragic story of a two 12 year old school girls who made their way up the Precipice by an old route to a place known as the Great Cave.  A bad decision lead to one girl having minor injuries while the other 12 year old was carried down the mountain side to her death.
Than there is the young man who was rock climbing with friends when one of his shoes fell off and into the ocean not far from Thunder Hole.  As his friends and others nearby pleaded with him not to do it, he junped into the ocean to retrieve his shoe.  The following moments of his life was a frantic one as he repeatedly fought the waves in an effort to get back on shore, but it was a battle he would not win.
The most tragic death to date has to be the one inviolving the drwoning of a 7 year old girl. 

Clio Dahyun Axilrod and her parents had joined the thousands of visitors on Sunday enthralled by the spectacular waves fueled by Hurricane Bill that were breaking off the Atlantic Coast of Acadia National Park in Maine.  In a tragic moment that would change people's lives forever, a huge wave rose up and carried several onlookers off the rocks and out to sea.  The others were rescued, but for the 7 year old, there would be no rescue.  

If you want to learn more about these tragic deaths, as well as many others, including the story of the man who took his new bride to Otter Cliffs in Acadia and pushed her off the cliffs to her death...check out my blog on Deaths In Acadia National Park at the link below.



Thanks to the work of Mathew Marchon and David Schortmann, the myth of the Great Cave is a myth no more.  They are the first person's  to actually produce photos of the Great Cave, and I suppose the only real mystery is why haven't there been any photos of the Great Cave before now?  In large part that is because the very few who knew its location kept it a closely guarded secret, making the Great Cave of the Precipice a true Ghost Trail or Phantom trail.  .  I have searched books, old maps, news accounts, and no place is there a photo, until now.

Rudolph Brunnow -  the builder of parts of the Precipice Trail came up with an idea on how to attract more hikers to the Trail.  His idea - build a connector trail that would run from one point on the main Precipice Trail on to Great Cave, and than loop onward to another point on the Precipice Trail.  This would give climbers two routes to and from the Great Cave.  The VIA felt the connecter   loop from the Precipice trail to Great Cave wold attract even more hikers to the newly constructed Precipice trail, and embraced the idea.  With that, Brunnow set to work on building the loop to Great Cave.

The Great Cave is about 100 feet high and about 100 feet deep inside. Brunnow constructed a looping trail  that included stone steps and at one spot a rock and metal bridge. 

I recently heard from Nick Thorndike who brought us very good news, he has discovered the other half of the Great Cave Loop.  Not only has Nice discovered it, he has also sent in a photo of the stone steps leading upward above the cave - this is a huge find because I know a lot of you have contacted me asking if anyone has discovered that half of the trail yet.
So once at the Great Cave,  When facing the cave begin to walk around the left side and being looking on you're right for the steps .(see photo below sent by by Nick) which run about the whole way up except for where you pass through a blueberry patch on the right.  The trail finally comes to a footbridge which leads you to the official upper section of the Precipice Trail.

So we now have documented the entire Great Cave Loop, along with photos - a big thank you goes out to all who helped make this possible.

George B. Dorr, in honor of the work crew that helped build the Precipice Trail, built a miniature version of the Precipice trail by Glen Mary Park in downtown Bar Harbor.  It is on a cliff with ladders and iron rings so people could go there and practice  the climb before attempting to hike the real thing.  Sadly what we thought was remains of the little Precipice turned out to be a collapsed retaining wall, so most likely all signs of it were removed many years ago.

To view photos of this great find, go to photos section under GREAT CAVE.  I really have to thank him and his group for the work they put into this.  Job well done.


So, yesterday armed with new information, we headed back to the trail with no name, which I refer to as "The Rock Climbers Trail."  This is where the local rock climbing schools bring their students and where experienced rock climbers come with ropes and anchors to do some serious rock climbing.  The same trail they use to reach the sheer walls of granite is also used to access the Hanging steps.

It should be noted that the start of this well worn trail is not at the Precipice parking lot, but 12 to 14 car lengths further down the roadway and the path is not marked and often the view of the path is blocked by parked cars.  So you don't miss the trail, I suggest you park at the Precipice parking lot, or get off the free Island Explorer bus (the Sand Beach Bus) and walk down the right side of the roadway in the direction of the traffic.  By doing so you will not miss the unmarked trail.

You don't get very far up the trail when you come to a sign in ledger on a post in front of a very impressive boulder.  The park service likes people to sign in when entering this area and sign out when leaving as people (mainly rock climbers using ropes climbing up sheer walls) have had bad falls in there and been seriously injured.  I never sign in since I have no plans on doing that kind of rock climbing.

Continue up the path a short ways right up to the sheer granite wall and take a moment to look upward - that is where the rock climbers go - straight up using ropes.

Now go left and follow the worn path along the base of that wall of granite a short ways and you can see where the trail turns right and continues to follow the edge of a granite wall.

 You won't go far before you come to the  strange White birch, which we refer to as the octopus, very strange White Birch.

Pass under its twisted branches look up - that huge impressive  boulder seems like its ready to drop right down onto the path where your standing.

Your job is to go beyond that huge boulder and than take a right up a rising rocky gully just beyond that boulder.  You won't go far when you will see the first of many stone steps on what is The Hanging Steps, or Black and Orange trail.

At this point, once you pass under the twisted white birch, the trail goes stright a short ways, passing over a slanted section of granite.  If your like my son, simply pass over that slanted granite and hang a right and head upward,  If your like me, I didn't feel comfortable crossing the slanted granite, so I instead went left at the tree, moved forward, passing the mouth of a nice cave, than turned to the right and returned to the trail, heading upward,
Just as a side note, we did poke around that huge boulder field to the left and was able to find several caves.
Once you have turned the corner and found the first stone steps, you don't need any more instructions, the trail is plain as day with some very impressive stone work along the way.

The map to the HANGING STEPS is on the same map as THE GREAT CAVE above.






Simply a great site with tons of great information, including GPS locations, old maps of Acadia National Park, and other useful information.




A nice blog with information on abandoned trails as well - oh, did I mention, the owner of the blog is the first person who has ever provided photos of THE GREAT CAVE.  Upon until now, there was no photos of this mysterious cave.



Another great site worth checking out if your into abandoned and lost trails.  It is always nice to check out what others are doing and keep up with recent finds.




You will find a ton of great information on the trails of Acadia National Park in here, as well as information on many of the lost and abandoned trails within the park.  This is worth taking the time and checking out .




 Yet another great site to visit.  To tell you the truth, I thought I knew about many of the secrets of Acadia, until I found this site.  



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I came across this site many years ago and it's still one of my favorite sites to check into now and again.  Nice old maps, and a lot of GPS info on lost and abandoned trails in Acadia National Park.  Check it out...