The historic carriage roads in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine are wide, well-maintained, and hark back to Bar Harbor's days of wealth and glamour.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the millionaire industrialist, was instrumental in creating this network of pathways that is open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians, but not to motorized vehicles.
How To Avoid The Crowds?
One of the most popular carriage roads to bike is the Eagle Lake loop. Although the parking lots for Eagle Lake can rapidly become congested, there are alternatives!
Park at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center at the entrance to Acadia National Park on Route 3 and bike the loop that incorporates Witch Hole Pond, Breakneck Pond, and Eagle Lake. Hulls Cove Visitor Center offers a number of advantages:
- Ample parking
- Tourist info and restrooms (building opens at 8 am)
- Access to the Park Loop Road (which can be explored by bike or car)
- Boarding spot for the Island Explorer (free shuttle service)
- Access to the carriage road network (at the end of the parking lot opposite the visitor center building as indicated by a small sign).
The Eagle Lake - Witch Hole Pond loop is a 10-mile route. It can easily be extended by adding more portions of the 45-mile carriage road system. For example, riders can incorporate Aunt Betty Pond, Jordan Pond, or Seal Harbor.
Download the Carriage Road User's Map and plan your itinerary in advance. Each route is marked by excellent signposts at each junction.
Another alternative: bikers can use the free, eco-friendly shuttle service called the Island Explorer Bicycle Express. It provides transportation to riders and their bikes from the Village Green (a few miles south of Hulls Cove Visitor Center in the heart of Bar Harbor) to Eagle Lake.
The buses are propane-powered and do a great job of decreasing vehicle traffic, congestion, and pollution. The Bicycle Express runs multiple times each day, with a schedule conveniently available online.
Some quick tips:
- Go early in the morning to beat the crowds and the summer heat.
- Stay locally at one of the numerous campgrounds, motels, or hotels to cut down on travel time.
- Consider visiting in the fall when the trails are less crowded following Labor Day weekend.
- Slow down, take extra time to enjoy the stunning scenery and every moment of the visit!
- Bike the gorgeous 13-mile route around Schoodic Peninsula (this peninsula is just east of Mount Desert Island and is part of Acadia National Park).
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine
This park opened in 1916 and is the only national park east of the Mississippi! It's the only national park whose entire landbase was donated by private citizens.
This impressive park also includes the highest point on the eastern seaboard: Cadillac Mountain at 1,530 feet (visitors can drive, bike, or hike to the top).
Entrance fees: A seven-day pass for one vehicle and occupants costs $20 and is $5 for an individual (pedestrian, hiker, biker). The park honors several pass programs, such as the America the Beautiful national pass. Entry fees are not charged in the off-season (November through April).