Acadia carriage trails popular with bicyclists

BAR HARBOR, Maine – Let’s all take this time to say “thank you” to the creator of Acadia National Park’s famous carriage roads, John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Not only did he make biking possible in the national park, but he also made it one of the top bike riding parks in the country.

From 1913 to 1940, wealthy industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr. created a stunning network of 57 miles of carriage roads at Acadia National Park along the Maine coast.

Rent your choice of a mountain bike, comfort bike, or tandem bike for a half day or whole day at Acadia Bike Rentals. Most bike shops such as this one in Bar Harbor, Maine, are quite close to entrances to Acadia National Park (Photo by Anabell Bernot). acadiabiking_1

While biking on these roads, you will go through acres of forests, around lakes, and over mountains so steep that they would make a college kid catch his or her breath.

“Biking here has been one of the best experiences of my life,” said Rianna Hidalgo, a University of Miami student and first timer on the carriage roads. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”

Not only are the carriage roads picturesque, but they were specifically designed to handle Maine’s groggy, rainy weather with three layers of rocks, stone culverts, and wide ditches.

“Even if there is a chance of rain, it is safe to bike along these roads, said Karen Cravens, from Acadia Bike Rentals.

In order to bike in Acadia, you have to rent a bike first. Acadia Bike Rentals is conveniently located at 48 Cottage St., in the center of Bar Harbor.

They are known as “Maine’s Leading Bicycle Rental Center” where tourists, locals, and bike enthusiasts can rent hundreds of mountain and hybrid bikes of all sizes, kids bikes, child trailers, and car racks. Each rental includes helmets, maps of the carriage roads, water bottle racks and custom fitting of bike equipment.

“We always advise our customers to wear helmets as a safety precaution,” said Cravens. “Kids 16 and younger have to wear helmets.”


A park service road in fall at Acadia National Park (Photo by Anabell Bernot).

Once you have decided if you want a mountain bike or a comfort bike, you can rent the equipment for a full day for $45.

“I’m going to go with a comfort bike because it’s my first time biking in a couple of years,” said Pini Vicknin, visiting from New York City.

Once you enter the bike rental store and exit to the back of the store, you will see a polite young man willing to help you get on your bike so you can start riding.

“We want to make sure our customers have a good experience out on the trails,” said Jim Vasko. “On the side of every bike, there is an emergency contact number to the store, so if you have a problem with a bike, we will come pick you.”

If you feel like you’re going to be a safety hazard while on your bike, Acadia Bike Rentals offers a $1-a-day damage waiver that will cover accidental damages to the bike.

“I got the waiver just in case,” said Vicknin. “ I’m going to have the bike for a couple of days so if it gets scratched I don’t have to worry about it too much.”

Remember, bike rentals are available around Bar Harbor, but once you enter the park there will be no chance for you to rent a bike.

Once you’re on your bike, the entrance to Acadia National Park is only two miles from the rental store. Then you will come to the carriage roads after you have gone through the twists and turns in the park. The roads are fairly straight and are made for touring, not speeding.

“The carriage roads are short and have lots of loops,” said Jacob Long, Acadia Park Ranger. “There are 12 carriage roads and they vary from one to 11 miles in length.”

Though most tourists love the carriage roads for biking and walking, some believe it ruined the wilderness in the park, said Long.

These roads are not flat, so make sure your bike has knobby tires, no skinny ones. Some of the roads have killer uphill pedals that ascend as much as 560 feet in a mile or so, so you may have to stop often.

Writer and University of Miami student Anabell Bernot takes a break on her comfort bike after going up a steep hill (Photo by Rianna Hidalgo). acadiabiking_5

“Since some of these roads are so steep, my husband and I come here for a good cardio workout,” said Linda Haleman, visiting from Boston.

However, stopping often isn’t too bad since beautiful forests of white pines, spruce, and maple trees surround you. On the ground, there is more lush vegetation to be seen. Carpets of club moss, wintergreen, sweet ferns, meadowsweet and huckleberry flank the carriage roads.

“I come to Acadia every fall with my daughter to enjoy the changing of the leaves,” said Mary Green. “It’s great to be surrounded by beauty everywhere you go.”

If you are looking for a smooth ride, there are easy carriage roads like Witch Hole Pond, 4.4-mile loop; Aunt Betty Circuit, 6.0-mile circuit; and Jordan Pond, one of the most popular roads and an 8.8-mile loop.

Whether you are looking for an easy ride to enjoy the scenery and revel in a piece of American history, or get a decent workout in one of America’s most enchanting bike trails, Acadia National Park will accommodate you.


If You Go

  • Most biking on the trails in Acadia National Park is seasonal although the park is open year round. Bike shops in Bar Harbor are not open during winter season.
  • If you want more information about Acadia or its carriage roads, contact the park at P.O. Box 177, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609; 207-288-3338;
  • If you want to make a bike rental at Acadia Bike Rentals, call them at 207-288-9605 to make reservations, or visit them at They are located on 48 Cottage St., Bar Harbor, Maine 04609.

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