Bicycling on Mt. Desert Island & Acadia National Park
Along with hiking and kayaking, biking is one of the main outdoor activities in Acadia National Park. There are opportunities for both easy and challenging workouts, all skill and fitness levels will find a place to ride. You will soon discover that with so much to see, why go any faster? Renting bikes on the island is easy, there are so many rental companies they are too numerous to mention.
Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor are practically created for biking! To begin with, the 47 miles of carriage roads are car-free and are not to be missed. The surface is well packed crushed stone, so fatter tires do best but I have never had a problem. Private portions of the carriage roads as well as all hiking trails are closed to bikes, so please read the signs. The private carriage roads start about 1/2 mile below Jordan Pond. An easy, fairly flat first ride would be the 6 mile loop around Eagle Lake, just a few miles east of Bar Harbor on Rt. 233. Half way around the lake you could choose to take the “around the mountain” loop which has lots of climbing and mountain views.
If you prefer blacktop and don’t mind sharing the road, then consider the famous Park Loop Road. Motorists like to stop and enjoy the view, so watch for sudden stops. The nice thing about the Park Loop Road is that you can catch the free Island Explorer at any time and put your bike on the bus’s rack. Park Loop Road is mostly one way, so that makes sharing the road easy. The Island Explorer website has a number of bus/bike trips planned out for you.
Bicycles of any sort have to stay away – far away from Route 3 between the Eden Village and Hulls Cove. This part of Route 3 has no bike lanes and a horrible horrible side of the road; unfit to ride. The cars here zoom by at 50 miles per hour, and there are hills – so bikes slow down too much to be part of the traffic pattern. If you must go towards Bar Harbor on a bike, take the by-pass – going towards Bar Harbor, take Norway Drive and turn left at the first intersection onto Crooked Road, which will take you pass the dreaded horrible part of Route 3. You end up quite near the National Park Visitor’s entrance, and past that Route 3 is tolerable. However, if I had a choice, I would take the park roads into Bar Harbor any day. You may have a bit more hills to climb, but you have the beautiful vistas to compensate for your efforts.
Another favorite ride of mine is to leave from the Visitor’s Center on the carriage roads and go all the way the length of the island to Seal Harbor. It’s exciting, and you get to treat yourself and stop at Jordan Pond House for a water, bathroom and perhaps lemonade/ice or hot tea or coffee plus popover break on the lawn. If you tucker out, you can easily catch the free shuttle from Jordan Pond House too. This route has two substantial climbs, but two great downhills each way.
Finally, Cadillac Mountain Road deserves mention for the true fanatic. It is a steep uphill climb and the downhill is too fast for me but the view at the top is amazing. At 1532 feet above sea level, it is the tallest coastal mountain in the country.
Bikes are a great way to see other areas too. You can hop on the mail boat to the Cranberry Islands at Southwest Harbor and bring your bike. Swan’s Island also has quite a few roads; the ferry leaves from Bass Harbor. If you stay with us here in Lamoine we can tell you about our favorite local routes.