Gorge Trail – One of My Favorites – Wicked COA-Wiki Guide to MDI?

The problem with this blog is that there’s so much to talk about and so little time to write.  It would be interesting and useful and fun to put some words to paper on Convocation, the Bar Island Swim, the Davis Dinner Event and the recent excursion to Mount Desert Rock (where we saw swarms of pilot whales, a beautiful humpback ‘showing of the fluke,’ scads of fin whales and an army of seals).  I’ll do my best to get to those. But I somehow feel the need to tell you about the Gorge Trail that I ran early this morning and use that to hopefully inspire a new idea.

So in my quest to run/walk all the carriage roads and hiking trails of MDI, I set out for a quick trip on the Gorge Trail this morning.

I remember hiking the Gorge as a student in all seasons and liking every trip for different reasons.  It was one of those ‘must do again’ walks.

What: The Gorge Trail (called “Gorge Path” on some maps) is a two mile jaunt that tops out at the Cadillac Summit.  It follows Kebo Brook to its highest headwaters — Kebo Brook crosses under Harden Farm Road, joins Cromwell Brook that flows out of the Great Meadow and eventually spills into Cromwell Cove).  It’s a fantastic, dark walk through hemlocks until you approach the pinch point between Dorr Mtn and Cadillac which is where the hike opens up some and is dominated by white birch.  It gets pretty steep and involves lots of boulder jumping.  There are times where the walls of Dorr and Cadillac really start to pinch in.

How to get there: This is a no excuses trail, meaning you can walk or bike from campus without too much trouble.  Leave campus and head south on Eden Street and when you get to the Kids Corner go straight onto Kebo Street.  Crossing Cromwell Harbor Road, this becomes HardenFarm Road and skirts just west of the golf course.  Here, walkers can enjoy a short section of the Great Meadow Loop instead of walking on the road.  Harden Farm Rd. dead ends into the Park Loop Road (PLR).  Hang a right and carefully continue against the flow of traffic (this may actually be illegal if you’re on a bike).  Three quarters of a mile on the PLR and passing first the Stratheden Trail and then the Kebo Mountain Trail, you will the find the Gorge Path on your left.

In car: Head out Eagle Lake Road and enter ANP’s Cadillac Mtn. entrance.  Make a left on the PLR and then a left at the junction where the one-way traffic begins.  About half a mile past the Cadillac North Ridge trail you’ll see the trailhead.

The Trail: They must have rerouted the trail sometime over the last twenty years.  The old route stuck right to the creek from the very beginning, but now the first half mile or so is not very aesthetically pleasing and seems kind of awkward, but after that initial let down, you’re in and enjoying the Gorge.  I saw a massive brook trout (maybe 4 inches) in the first sizable pool and next trip I will definitely take a fly rod to see what some of these pools hold.  The creek is almost dry this time of year, but come spring you’ll get good flow and many, many drippings coming off the cliffs on either side of the gorge.

You’ll see Hemlock Trail entering from your left (East).  Follow it if you want to head back into town through the Great Meadow – that’s not a bad option if you only have a little bit of time between your arduous study sessions.  But the coolest section is straight ahead (South).  Your thighs will get a good burn over the next mile and you’ll eventually come to the notch between Dorr (left, East) and Cadillac (right, West). The Gorge Path continues about half a mile to your right and ends at the Cadillac Mtn parking loop.  Have a buddy leave a bike on the Cadillac Summit and enjoy a speedy trip down the mountain.  MAN, THIS ISLAND NEEDS MORE SINGLE TRACK MTN BIKE ROUTES.

Safety: Don’t fall on the rocks.  There are many of them.  Plenty of chances to twist an ankle. Bring a walking buddy and a phone, although I’m betting you won’t get cell services (should have checked — that’s a good thing to include).

Time: If you really hoof it, you can make it from the PLR to the Dorr/Cadillac notch and back in just a hair over an hour, but that’s trail running wherever possible.

OK, so it was during today’s Gorge Path walk that I thought about creating the Wicked COA-Wiki Guide to MDI.  In a given week, don’t you think there might be as many as 100 COA person-visits into some part of ANP per week?  That’s 3000 over the course of a COA year.  That’s a lot of experiential data.  Anyone out there have any interest and experience in creating a Wiki??  Seems like the perfect tool for capturing that data.

It’s a lot of fun throwing ideas out like this.  I’d encourage you all to get out there and record your experience — add it to the comments section of this post and we’ll see if someone grabs onto the Wiki idea.  DC

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