Cycling in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is the only national park created by private land donations. At 49,075 acres, it is one of the country’s smallest national parks. It is spread among several islands, Mt Desert, Isle au Haut, the Cranberry Islands, and the Schoodic Penisula.  

Acadia offers excellent cycling, hiking, and kayaking.  Having been fortunate to guide in Acadia for over twenty years, we have in-depth knowledge of the Park.  Here is some helpful information on cycling in the Park.

And if you’d like to cycle in the park with our expert guides, consider booking a place on our Maine’s Gold Coast tour. 


Acadia’s Carriage Roads

Forty-five miles of Carriage Roads are open to cyclists in Acadia National Park. John Rockefeller conceived, financed, and built the Carriage Roads, “to help people enjoy the interior of the park free from the noise and pollution of the automobile.” 

Rockefeller was heavily invested in the project. He knew all the workers on a first-name basis. He was personally involved in designing the sixteen bridges on the Carriage Roads, insisting that each be architecturally unique to blend in with the landscape.

The beauty of the Carriage Roads is that they are only open to bikes, pedestrians, and horses in some areas.  Cyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians and horses.  Class 1 e-bikes are permitted on the Carriage Roads, but classes 2 and 3 are not.

Popular Carriage Roads Rides

Most people access the Carriage Roads from Duck Brook Road, Eagle Lake, and the Jordan Pond House.  The Carriage Roads are accessible from the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center, but there is a very steep climb onto the Carriage Roads.

If you begin your ride in Bar Harbor, you will have a bit of a climb to get to the Carriage Roads. Follow West Street crossing Route 3 onto West Street Extension to Duck Brook Road from the town green. It is one mile from the town green to Duck Brook Road with 175 feet of elevation gain. If you wish to avoid this, drive to the Eagle Lake Parking area and start cycling there.

The Carriage Roads are generally busiest between 10 am and 2 pm. In the late afternoon and evening, a fraction of the people uses the roads, making it an excellent time for cycling. 

Eagle Lake Loop

The ride around Eagle Lake is one of the most popular Carriage Road rides.  If you start at The Duck Brook Bridge, it is a 10-mile round trip.  If you start at the Eagle Lake Parking lot, it is 5.8 miles.  Whether you ride around the lake to the right or left, the first part will be primarily uphill, and the second half will be mostly downhill.

Around Day Mountain

Perfect for people looking to get a full day of riding on the Carriage Roads. From Bar Harbor, it is about 36 miles round trip.  This ride gets you on some of the less-ridden Carriage Roads and offers some beautiful views of Sommes Sound.  After a break at the Jordan Pond House, we climb Day Mountain for views of the Cranberry islands.  If you are here in late July/Early August, there is excellent blueberry picking at the summit. 

Park Loop Road

Park Loop Road is a scenic road that runs along the ocean and passes by several notable park features, including Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs, and Thunder Hole. A large portion of Park Loop Road is two lanes of one-way traffic, creating a default bike lane that makes for great cycling.

From Bar Harbor, there are two ways to access Park Loop Road.  One is up West Street Extension, which is a bit of a climb; a gentler way is to follow Ledgelawn Street to Great Meadow Drive, which interests the loop road. Although park Loop Road can get very busy, riding early in the morning can give you an almost car-free experience.  

About one mile before the Jordan Pond House, the road becomes a two-way road; the road is narrow and offers no shoulder as it runs through the park’s interior. Cycling this section of the road can be unpleasant when the park is busy. Unless you are cycling up Cadillac Mountain on your ride, we recommend hopping off the loop road at the Jordan Pond House and cycling carriage roads back to Bar Harbor.

(Source License)

The Schoodic Peninsula

The Schoodic Peninsula lies north of Mount Desert Island and is reached by car or seasonal ferry service.  The ferry between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor is privately run and does not transport e-bikes.  If you drive, you can park at the visitors center at the Schoodic Point Campground. The ride within the park is relatively short, nine miles from the visitor’s center to the junction with 186.  Like park loop road, a good portion of Schoodic is two lanes of one-way traffic.

There is a small section of what the park calls “carriage roads” in the peninsula’s interior; they are fairly rough and not very scenic.  To make a day out of our trip to Schoodic, we cycle through the town of Winter Harbor and around the charming Grindstone Neck, as well as cycling to the fishing village of Corea and stopping for lunch and Lunch on the Warf.  Lunch on the Warf has excellent food, beautiful views of Corea Harbor, and a lot of local color.

Swan’s Island

Reached by ferry from Bass Harbor, Swan’s is a great glimpse of Island life.  It is a forty-minute ferry ride to the island.  There is not a lot of cycling on the island, but plenty of opportunities to explore the island.  Cycling most of the roads would get about 16 miles of cycling.  Some scenic ferry rides and some cycling make for a fun day.

Maine Biking Tours with Summer Feet

Summer Feet Cycling is a twenty-three-year-old tour operator based in Maine. We offer seven different guided and self-guided itineraries that visit Acadia: browse Summer Feet’s Maine Bike Tours.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.  

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