The first week of September my husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with our customary trip to Acadia National Park. We camped overnight and did a lot of walking. By day two our aging knees wanted a break. We opted for a nice, easy morning hike. There are not many easier walks in Acadia than the Fire Road to Valley Cove, a one-half mile path to the ocean. The valley in the name refers to the space between two small mountains, Flying and St. Sauveur.
The trail is wide, graveled and well maintained. Yet, it is a quiet and isolated spot, seldom frequented. Trees push close, providing shade from bright mid-morning sun. Cicadas and crickets add their high-pitched music to the ripe September day. A gentle breeze stirs the treetops. Gulls cry high overhead, blending with the occasional sharp call of a bird-of-prey. Peregrine falcons nest nearby, although they don’t tend to make much noise. The park is home to osprey, eagles and various hawks.
The predominant tree species is red spruce. Several squirrels rustle in the undergrowth collecting spruce cones. Nuthatches make petulant noises at one another as they scuttle along the tree trunks. The air is fragranced with the scent of fallen pine needles baking in the sun. In a few short minutes the end of the trail is near. A view opens of the sheer face of St. Sauveur, a 679 foot edifice that stands with its toes in the ocean.
Soon the cove is in sight. Access to the shore is by a newly constructed bridge and set of stairs. Trail repair is ongoing in this area. The loop to access the summit of St. Sauveur from the cove is closed due to trail deterioration. My hat is off to the workers, many of them volunteers, who haul material and labor mightily to maintain the hiking access at Acadia.
Valley Cove is part of Somes Sound, a deep inlet of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the two sides of Mt. Desert Island. This beautiful place is on the “quiet side” of Acadia, away from the throngs visiting sights such as Otter Cliffs, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond and the Spring House on the northeast arm of the park.
While the southwest side sees plenty of visitors, we had the cove to ourselves this early fall day. The ocean is at its warmest now, although the temperature would be considered bracing by many. The clear water, slate and granite ledge, and coarse sand invite wading. On a hot day, this would be an excellent spot for a dip in the sea.Gazing northeast, the height of land to the left in the foreground is St. Sauveur, then the flank of Acadia Mountain (681 ft) and on the right side, across Somes Sound, is Norumbega Mountain (852 ft.) There are over twenty mountains on Mt. Desert, quite a feat for a little over 100 square miles of area! What we see today are just the stumps, the remainders of much higher mountains that were ground down by glacial ice sheets. The view to the south is of the side of Flying Mountain. At 284 feet, it is the smallest peak in Acadia.