Compass Harbor is one of those quiet little spots in Acadia that not many people know about. Just outside the town of Bar Harbor on Route 3, there’s a small, easy to miss lot on the left of the road that holds maybe half a dozen cars. A gentle half mile walk through the woods reveals a picturesque and peaceful natural harbor. The short trail itself is fairly flat, but as you get nearer to the ocean, you will find plenty of gnarly tree roots that are quite happy to try and trip you up.
Looking along the natural curve of the shoreline, you see a rocky outcrop off in the distance that just begs to be explored. For the curious hiker, crystal clear, almost Caribbean-like harbor water and tide pools teeming with life offer a whole other world to investigate. While perched on top of that craggy headland, you can enjoy impressive views across Frenchman Bay toward the Porcupine Islands, the Schoodic Peninsula, and the relatively isolated Egg Rock Lighthouse. We stopped to soak in the warm summer air while letting the cool ocean breeze wash over us… what a perfect spot.
Just past where we stopped is a secluded cove of smooth, round granite cobbles… a location that might just warrant a return trip to see how the early morning light impacts it. Some striking, jagged rocks on the far end of what is an east-north-east facing cove might offer some compositional possibilities for a morning photograph. Rather than stopping at the cove this time though, the second part of our mission lay ahead of us… to get to the haunted house.
Compass Harbor is also the site of the “Old Farm”, the former residence of George B. Dorr, Acadia’s first superintendent. We first “discovered” this place when Sam was little, and from that moment in our family it has been known as the haunted house in Bar Harbor. George Dorr died in 1944, and after what apparently was a beautifully designed and constructed house fell into disrepair and became unsafe, the park service razed it to the ground in 1951. The foundation of the house still exists as well as several stone stair cases leading down toward the water. Anytime you find an old, spooky and overgrown ruin that still displays remnants of long ago human occupation, you will have a place capable of stirring the imagination – and the ruin of the Dorr house is no exception.