MOUNT DESERT, Maine — On a clear day, the view from the summit of Cadillac Mountain is nothing less than sublime. Spread out before you are the hills and lakes of Acadia National Park, the blue waters of Frenchman and Penobscot Bays, so many islands only a savant could name them all, and the vast, shimmering Atlantic stretching to the eastern horizon.
The beauty found atop Cadillac is no secret, which is why tens of thousands of visitors head there each year, nearly all of them driving up the access road which has become so congested that the Park Service had to institute a reservation system this year during the busiest months. Getting to the top of the mountain, the highest point on the entire east coast, can be a bit of a slog in the summer when so many tourists are heading to the same destination, and it’s not a place you’ll just casually drop by, but the payoff is almost always worth it.
Nathaniel Burke worked this year as a Summit Steward in the park, spending his days out on the most popular trails, answering questions from tourists, trying to educate them about how to get the most out of the park, and, even more important, how to leave no trace behind. A question occasionally asked when he patrolled the summit of Cadillac would leave him dumbfounded.
“Sometimes when we’re up here,” he said, “people will come up to me and be like, ‘Alright, how do I get to Acadia National Park?’ Which is always funny to me because Cadillac is sort of one of the crown jewels of the park, so if you haven’t figured it out already, you’re here.”
Burke tells the story with a mix of amusement and disbelief. Clearly, the man has patience, a quality all the Summit Stewards have in abundance.
Want to learn more about what they do and the difference they make at Acadia? Watch the above video.