Sunday, July 01, 2007

Little Long Pond and the Rockefellers

Acadia National Park exists because of the Rockefellers. Much of Mount Desert Island exists because of the Rockefellers, the Astors, and other obscenely wealthy families over the last century and a half.

In the thirties when John D. donated his land Mount Desert to the National Park system, he created a wonderland of nature available to the public. The family did, however, keep some significant chunks of land around their houses and the "secret" garden John D. built for his mother. Part of this land is included in the Little Long Pond carriage road loop.

As an aside: the Carriage Roads were the centerpiece of Rockefeller's holdings on Mt. Desert. They are a beautifully graded and engineered system of roads for horses and carriages. They have become an essential connective tissue of Acadia, an important way for people to get from trail to trail and to ride bikes and horses.

Little Long Pond is better kept, however, than the rest of the network. The private Rockefeller crews keep the property beautifully, and there are no bikes allowed. The only horses allowed are those owned by the various parts of the family. The loop is kept open for the public, as well, and one benefit the family offers is that dogs are allowed off-leash. Unlike the rest of the park system, this allows for people to take a three to four mile hike with their dog roaming and saying hello to other dogs. It's brilliant and rare.

Add to this the stunning natural beauty of the woods and the wide-open fields, the pond with its fish and tadpoles, the beaver huts, the occasional moose, and you have the recipe for an Eden-like setting. Never forget, however, that you are a guest. This is not a warning; just an acknowledgment that we are lucky to have people who still do this.