Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Ride for Sparky-The Hadlock Pond Loop

Bar Harbor, ME   High: 78  Low: 62

Eldy has been feeling a little under the weather, so he opted out of a bike ride on the carriage roads of Acadia today. Besides, we had done the Hadley Brook Loop carriage ride two years ago. Sparky wanted to see if she remembered it, and there were THREE bridges she wanted to get photos of, so off she went. Best time to bike the carriage trails is late in the day...You can find parking, and the trails are not as busy this time of day. Sparky has found that around 4:00 PM is a great time to ride. If you go during the mornings or early afternoons, the small parking lots for the carriage roads are completely full, and cars are forced to park along the highway roads for long distances, especially during the months of July and August. Go in the late afternoon, and you can park easily in the designated parking lot. Hiking might be a different story. Not sure you'd want to set out on a challenging hike later in the day. That would best be attempted early in the morning.

She didn't even get out of the campground before calling Eldy, "Uh, honey, which way did you say to turn out of the campground?" Eldo just laughed and patiently told her once again, just like he always does, the man has the patience of Job when it comes to Sparky's inability to use her internal compass and memory banks to get where she needs to go on her own. Eldo knows Sparky needs LOTS of repetition to remember things. And even then, sometimes she forgets, like what appliances are using 12 volt in the motorhome and which ones aren't. But, I digress....

Brown Mountain Gatehouse
You can reach the Hadley Brook/Hadley Pond Loop at a mile north of Northeast Harbor on Route 198. It was about a 15 minute drive from Mount Desert Narrows Campground. The Hadley Brook Loop is a 3.9 mile circuit that rises to an elevation of 500 feet, so that means some SERIOUS hill climbing! Or walking, as the case may be...Sparky was on the bike for some of it, and off for walking the rest of the hill. This hike or ride has a little bit of everything---level spots, steep inclines, a waterfall (well, not in the summer, it's pretty well dried up), and a pond and some really great views except the trees have grown up and obscure much of it. You start out on the carriage road just beyond the Brown Mountain Gate House, one of two gatehouses in Acadia. The two gate lodges were built to control traffic and serve as a gateway entry into the carriage roads. The Jordan Pond Gatehouse was built at the same time as the Brown Mountain one, and they have similar architectural styles. The Brown Mountain Gatehouse has beautiful masonry, spindles in the windows and lots of detail.  There's a lot more to the gatehouse than what you can see in the photo. It extends out both sides and has additional attached buildings. It's beautiful!

If you take this carriage road trail, you get to see the highest waterfall in Acadia when it's flowing (spring time is best) and two of Rockefeller's wonderful bridges--Hemlock Bridge and the Waterfall Bridge. People talk about there being 17 of Rockefeller's bridges, but that number reflects just the ones on the carriage roads. There are more in the park crossing over non-carriage roads as well. You have two choices of how to travel this trail upon starting at the Brown Mountain Gatehouse. You can start uphill immediately, or take a different route for an easier ascent and descent. Sparky missed the easier route in the book and took the high road, which skirts around Upper Hadlock Pond. Not much of a view there, the mature trees now obscure the view. But Sparky took her time, admiring the sunlight dappling through the trees, highlighting the little things in nature that many people just breeze right on by most of their lives. Most people would say this is just an ugly tree stump, but when riding by yesterday, the sunlight on the little crushed pile of leaves made it just glitter, causing Sparky to pause for a moment of reflection. Same for the lichens below....

If you take this trail early in the morning, they say you can hear the loons calling in the Upper Hadlock Pond.

It was a beautiful afternoon to be out riding. Very few mosquitoes, a light breeze and temperatures in the low seventies.

It's not long before you come to the first bridge--Hadlock Bridge. It's modeled after the one in Central Park, NY. This little bridge is a wonderful example of how Rockefeller's vision is captured in the design of this bridge. It blends and harmonizes with nature, drawing very little attention to itself.
Rockefeller and his design team worked very very hard to blend the bridges into the landscape...curving the structures where needed, disturbing the natural environment as little as possible before, during, and after construction, using granite right from the bridge site, and employing a famous landscape architect of the twenties, Beatrix Farrand, to plant native species of plants, trees, and flowers along the carriage roads and at the bridges. When you stand back and look at this bridge, you see how well the granite stone blocks blend in with the boulders and rocks in the stream. Rockefeller even told his granite workers not to cut the stones too perfectly to maintain the rusticity of the bridges. When you come to intersections in the carriage roads, many of them have tree islands with the signs, it almost seems like an invitation to stop and rest awhile.

After passing this bridge, you climb steeply (again!) up the sides of Parkman Mountain to get to the next bridge--the Hemlock Bridge. This is one of the prettiest bridges in the park, in a lot of people's opinion. The bridge has a massive Gothic arch in the center of it. There are two small false arches, one on each side. This was one of the most expensive bridges to build, because they couldn't find enough suitable granite at the site. So they hauled it in from a nearby quarry.
About a tenth of a mile further uphill, (still climbing!) is the Waterfall Bridge. It was constructed a year after the Hemlock Bridge. The Waterfall Bridge is AMAZING!  Unless you are standing underneath it, you can't even imagine how tall it is, and how small you are. The north wall faces a 40 foot waterfall that can best be seen in early spring. Today there was a mere trickle of water coming down the ravine walls and barely enough water in the brook for a melodic tinkling down the rocks as it flowed.
There are two towers that form viewing platforms at the road level. Sparky stopped to admire the work of these early architects and to catch her breath....

From here on out, it was a gradual descent back down to the parking lot. It was a wonderful ride today, and marvelous exercise, too! Until next time.....


  1. Sorry to hear Eldy is under the weather. Hope it's nothing serious. Wish I'd been there to go on this beautiful ride with you. Sounds and looks lovely but I know it was even better in person.

  2. Nothing serious...just a little tired and achy.

  3. Hope Eldy is feeling much better today. What a beautiful day for a lovely ride.

  4. absolutely loving all the beautiful scenery you are sharing. . .can't wait to get there and see it for myself. . .hope you are successful in your quest to see ALL the bridges!