The main portion of Acadia National Park covers some 35,000 acres on Mount Desert Island. (Desert is pronounced "dessert," as in the French mont desert, or "bare mountain"). There are more than 120 miles of hiking trails and 57 miles of woodland carriage trails for savoring the dramatic scenery, diverse floral displays, fabulous bird life, and unparalleled inshore marine life. Hulls Cove Visitor Center has maps and bird checklist.
Sieur de Monts Spring
It is a curious fact that the northeastern part of Mount Desert Island has trees and breeding birds of more southerly affinities, while the southwestern section of the island is inhabited by boreal (northern) species, mainly conifers. The great fire of 1947 was the culprit that transformed what had been a uniformly coniferous woodland. More than 10,000 acres in Acadiaís northeast were devastated by the inferno, which burned for weeks. In the wake of the fire, latent seeds of broadleaf tree species (more common in southern New England than in Maine) sprang to life from the ashy ground. What had once been a spruce-fir forest was transformed into woodlands of birches, aspens, and Pin Cherries, with a spectacular understory of Lowbush Blueberries and Fireweeds. In the newly sprouted broadleaf woodlands, seen to full advantage at Sieur de Monts Spring, nesting birds now include Broad-winged Hawks, Black-billed Cuckoos, Great Crested Flycatchers, Baltimore Orioles, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. While here, visit the Acadia Wild Garden. The garden, which has approximately 300 species of labeled native plants in natural settings, will help you sort out the parkís varied plant life.
Big Heath, Wonderland, and Ship Harbor
Located at the southern end of the western lobe of Mount Desert Island, along Route 102A, the 420-acre Big Heath (also called Seawall Bog), Wonderland, and Ship Harbor are are highlight of any naturalistís sojourn at Acadia. At Big Heath, Palm Warblers and Common Yellowthroats nest among Swamp Pink Orchids, Bog-laurel, Bog-rosemary, and Labrador Tea. Carnivorous pitcher-plants and sundews are common on the spreading mats of Peat Moss. In order to minimize disturbance to the fragile plant life, please keep to the paths.
Wonderland and Ship Harbor are two of the loveliest warbler-laden woodlands anywhere. Trails wind through mixed broadleaf and coniferous habitats, and the trees ring with the songs of Blackburnian, Wilsonís, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, and many other northern warblers. At the waterís edge, look for Black Guillemots, Harbor Seals, and occasional Bald Eagles and Harbor Porpoises.
Across Frenchman Bay, to the east of Mount Desert Island, lies Schoodic Peninsula, the mainland section of Acadia National Park. Heavily wooded and highly scenic, it offers good land birding in the vicinity of Schoodic Head and excellent tidepool exploring and marine bird-watching at Schoodic Point.
Have you been to this park? How many stars would you give it?