Spring conditions come early to Acadia

Posted March 15, 2012, at 4:51 p.m.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Good weather the past couple of weeks and anticipated balmy temperatures this weekend are bringing bikers and hikers to the park earlier than normal, according to a park ranger.

But people who visit Acadia still are being asked to be cautious when they venture out into the woods or along the seashore in Maine’s only national park. There still are some winter conditions and closures in the park that visitors need to be aware of, the ranger said Thursday.

“We’re starting to see a lot more people,” Ranger Richard Rechholtz said. “I expect we’ll be fairly busy this weekend.”

According to the National Weather Service, the weather conditions predicted for Mount Desert Island this weekend are sunny with temperatures in the 50s.

Despite the forecast, Rechholtz said sections of Park Loop Road and Summit Road on Cadillac Mountain are closed, and all carriage paths are closed while the ground is soft.

He said Blackwoods Campground in the Mount Desert village of Otter Creek has been open for winter camping — people have to park at the gate and walk in — and that good weather likely will result in more campers there before the campground gate opens April 1. He said Ocean Drive, which is the section of Park Loop Road that goes past Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, has been popular with walkers this winter.

“That’s a great spot for people to go for a walk with very little ice,” he said.

Most of Park Loop Road is closed to motor vehicles, as it is every winter, and is not expected to reopen to vehicles until April 15. Summit Road on Cadillac Mountain also is expected to be opened to vehicles the same day, weather permitting.

Bicyclists are allowed to travel on closed sections of both roads, Rechholtz said, but they need to be aware that some shady sections still might be icy.

The ranger said pedestrians also walk along closed sections of the roads, so bicyclists should use caution and make sure the walkers know they are approaching. Bicyclists also should be careful to avoid locked gates that might block the roads at certain points.

“We’ve tried very hard to have those [gates] visible,” he said. “So far [this winter], we haven’t had a report of anyone being hurt.”

Carriage roads are closed for the time being to all users, Rechholtz said, to prevent damage as a result of soft conditions. Regular hiking trails are open but, like Park Loop Road, still have ice in some parts.

And as is the case anytime of year, all dogs in the park must be on a leash, he said. The one exemption from this requirement is the paths that circle Little Long Pond near Seal Harbor.

Ranger Wanda Moran said Thursday that a few hiking trails have been closed because of nesting activity by peregrine falcons.

Both Precipice and the Orange and Black trails on the east side of Champlain Mountain were closed indefinitely on Thursday, she said, while trails facing Valley Cove on St. Sauveur Mountain are expected to close on March 20. Neither nesting site produced any peregrine chicks in 2011, she said.

“We’re hoping its going to happen this year,” Moran said.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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