Acadia National Park Service, Maine

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13300A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Help the National Park Service maintain the trails and carriage roads
  • Explore Acadia's natural treasures and Mount Desert Island
  • Experience the dramatic splendor of the Maine Coast


  • Most meals
  • Group cooking gear, tools, and campsite
  • Expert work project supervision by national park staff


DatesSep 29–Oct 5, 2013
StaffMichelle Teddy
Photo: Acadia National Park Service

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Trip Overview

Please note that the trip dates have changed from what was originally published. If you have questions, please contact us.


The Trip

Acadia, the only national park in the Northeast, combines mountains, cliffs, and the wild, rocky Maine coast at its very best.  The park is located on Mount Desert Island (MDI), whose first inhabitants were Native Americans from the Wabanaki tribe.  They came down from inland Maine to fish and hunt.  The Wabanaki Indians called Mount Desert Island Pemetic, or “the sloping land.”  Samuel Champlain “discovered” Mount Desert Island in 1604, sailing into Frenchman Bay.  Champlain is responsible for naming the island.  After observing the bald and rocky mountain summits, he named it Isles des Monts Desert (Island of Bald Mountains).  In 1759, the British defeated the French in the French and Indian war, opening the Maine coast to English settlement.  Around this same time, the Governor of Massachusetts tried to lay claim to the area by offering free land to settlers.  That is how a man by the name of Abraham Somes came to move there.  He settled his family in what is now known as Somesville.  Artists arrived in the late 1840s and, because of their paintings of the area, it became a popular summer colony for the wealthy around the turn of this century.  Gifts of land and money from these early seasonal residents made Acadia National Park possible.  Today, the park encompasses more than 47,000 acres of ocean coastline, forests, meadows, lakes and mountains.

The paradise that first attracted the Wabanaki tribe remains today.  An extensive system of rugged, and sometimes challenging, foot trails will lead the hiker up any of the 20+ bare-topped “mountains,” all of which stand at altitudes of less than 1,600 feet.  At the top, hikers are rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding islands, valley lakes, Frenchman Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  Additionally, there is an abundance of flora and fauna at Acadia, with approximately 165 species of native plants, 60 species of mammals, and more than 150 species of breeding birds.

Another impressive feature of Acadia is the park’s 45-mile network of carriage roads designed and constructed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940.  Many of the roads were built on his land, which he later donated to the government; others were built on government land or on land owned by private conservation organizations.  The carriage road network is linked by 17 remarkable granite bridges spanning streams, waterfalls, cliffs, and roads.  These roads are used exclusively for mountain biking, hiking, jogging and horseback riding.  No other comparable road system exists in America’s national parks.

On our off day we will be free to explore the park and the island. Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island abound with opportunities to hike, bike, sightsee, and explore.  In addition, there are numerous picturesque villages to see, museums and galleries to visit, as well as Bar Harbor and other nearby island towns to shop in.  Visitors can take advantage of the free, propane-powered Island Explorer buses (, which deliver passengers to all points of interest, including major trailheads.

The Project

More than two million people visit Acadia National Park each year. As you can imagine, there is much maintenance required to keep the park in good shape.  Our group will be open to completing whatever work project(s) park personnel deems most appropriate during our four work days.  Projects could include restorating the carriage roads, clearing culverts, installing log checks, or helping to control non-native, invasive flora, to name just a few.  The work may be ordinary or it may be special.  For several years, Sierra Club volunteers had participated in the park’s ongoing effort to rebuild the 100+ year-old retaining walls lining the carriage roads.  These turned out to be very special projects. which participants found rewarding and highly memorable.  Please be advised that we are oftentimes asked to remove tree roots from trails in order to improve the integrity of the trail.  Such roots may or may not be attached to living trees.  If you have a strong objection to removing such roots, you may want to take this into consideration when making a decision about signing up for this trip.


Day 1:  We will meet at the campground in mid- to late-afternoon.  Specific directions and all other particulars will be sent to each participant before the start of the trip.  Dinner this evening will be our first meal together.

Days 2-3:  We will receive our work assignments and training, and begin our service project(s).

Day 4:  Today is a free day to explore Acadia National Park/Mount Desert Island, either as a group or independently.

Days 5-6:  We will complete our park project(s).

Day 7:  We will enjoy breakfast as our last group meal and break down camp before departing.



Getting There

We will meet at the campground in mid- to late-afternoon.  Specific directions and all other particulars will be sent to each participant before the start of the trip. 

Accommodations and Food

Our base camp for the week will be located at Blackwoods Campground, located within the park boundaries.  Restrooms with flush toilets and fresh (cold only) water are available near the campsites.  Coin-operated hot showers are a short drive away, just outside the campground.  Please be sure to bring plenty of quarters.  Parking is available within walking distance, but the number of cars permitted at the campsite itself is strictly limited.

All meals and general commissary equipment will be provided.  You will need to bring your own mess kit, which should include a plate/bowl, cup, and eating utensils.  You may also want to consider bringing a plastic container in which to pack your daily lunches.  All participants will share in the food preparation and clean up.  Please disclose any dietary restrictions when completing your trip forms.  We will try to accommodate any dietary restrictions you may have.

We would welcome help in both setting up and breaking down the commissary, and cleaning and packing up the equipment.  Also, be aware that in past years, participants have not been able to resist going out for a fine local lobster/seafood feast for one of the nights (at participants’ expense). 

Trip Difficulty

This trip will be moderately difficult.  It is strongly suggested that you have camping and hiking experience and be in good physical condition.  We will not be working with any heavy trail building equipment, but we should expect our work to be physically and aerobically challenging.  If you have any questions about your qualifications or any aspect of the trip, feel free to contact Michelle Teddy. 

Equipment and Clothing

Equipment necessary for this trip will include well-seasoned, sturdy boots; a day pack for carrying lunches, raingear, work gloves, etc.; and your own sleeping equipment including tent, sleeping bag, and pad.  Early October will be cool and the nights can get very chilly, so warm clothing is a must.  Clothing for layering is ideal.  There is always the possibility of rain, so a waterproof jacket and pants is an absolute must.  All gear previously mentioned should be good for three-season conditions.  A more detailed equipment list will be sent out before the trip gets under way.


Topographic maps are not necessary for this trip.  If you wish to purchase them, they are available from USGS ( or call toll-free 1-888-ASK-USGS).  The National Park Service provides a really nice free map of the island, which is available at the visitor center. 


To learn more about Acadia National Park, here are a few suggested titles:

  • Abrell, Diana F., A Pocket Guide to the Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park.  Down East Press, 1995.
  • Kaiser, Jay, Acadia Revealed:  The Complete Guide.  Payrus Travel Guides, 2000.
  • Monkman, Jerry and Marcy, Discover Acadia National Park, 2nd AMC Guide to the Best Hiking, Biking and Paddling.  Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 2005.
  • Perrin, Steve, Acadia:  The Soul of a National Park.  Earthling Press, 1998.
  • Roberts, Anne R., Mr. Rockefeller’s Roads.  Down East Press, 1990.


Although Acadia National Park is one of the smallest national parks in America, it ranks among the top ten in visitors, with over two million visitors each year.  Because Acadia National Park is so heavily traveled, its fragile ecosystem is at risk. The subalpine vegetation, low-lying heathers, shrubs, berries and wildflowers are extremely vulnerable to tourists. The park staff is constantly looking for ways to balance their preservation efforts with the flood of nature lovers who come to enjoy the park and marvel at its beauty.



Michelle Teddy has been a participant on many trips with the Sierra Club since 1999. She has been a participant on this particular service trip a number of times and is very excited about leading it for the fourth year. She enjoys hiking, camping, skiing and many other outdoor activities. She lives in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Should you have any questions about this trip, please feel free to email her.


Lindy Rosse has spent the last three summers in Alaska, cooking at a remote fly fishing lodge. The rest of the year, she divides her time between eastern Pennsylvania and western Nevada. She is always on the lookout for seasonal job opportunities in interesting locations.

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