Acadia National Park, on Maine's Mount Desert Island, is among the most popular national parks in the United States. From the road, visitors can experience magnificent vistas of summit and sea, but on a more intimate scale, equally compelling views abound along Acadia's hiking trails.
Tom Wessels, an ecologist, naturalist, and avid hiker, attributes the park's popularity – and its unusual beauty – to the unique way in which earth, air, fire, and water – in the form of glacially scoured granite, winter winds, fire, and ocean fog – have converged to create a landscape that can be found nowhere else.
In this beautifully illustrated book, Wessels invites readers to investigate the remarkable natural history of Mount Desert Island, along with the unique cultural story it gave rise to. This account of nature, terrain, and human interaction with the landscape will delight those who like to hike these bald summits, ride along the carriage roads, or explore the island's rugged shoreline. Wessels concludes with a guided tour of one of his favorite hikes, a ten-mile loop that will acquaint the reader with the diverse ecosystems described throughout his book.
Tom Wessels is a professor of ecology and the founding director of the master's degree program in conservation biology at Antioch University New England. He is the author of Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England, Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape, The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future, and The Granite Landscape: A Natural History of America's Mountain Domes, from Acadia to Yosemite.
"This is a park guidebook, an introduction to glaciated geology, a treatise on plant ecology, a history of an elite playground for the rich, and a story of the evolution of a national park. Though it is the work of an academic ecologist, it offers a very personal perspective [...] The work is more a collection of essays than a text, but this style serves as a sound introduction to Acadia. The spare, clear language makes this a readable, informative book [...] Recommended."
"Tom Wessels is the great biographer of New England rock and forest, and this volume belongs on the bookshelf of anyone invigorated by the tang of salt air!"
– Bill McKibben, environmental activist and author of Wandering Home
"From the essence of bedrock to intertwined ecologic and human histories, this intimate portrait of a most special place along the Maine coast is true gift."
– Lauret Savoy, author of Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
"A delightfully engaging narrative [...] This is one of the best regional field guides I've ever read."
– Mitchell Thomashow, president emeritus, Unity College, and author of Bringing the Biosphere Home