“A tour of some of the more popular carriage roads at Acadia National Park passing several lakes.”
— Lost Justpastnowhere
Acadia's carriage roads are perfect for exploring Acadia National Park by bike. You won't have to deal with the congestion on the main park loop and fight for parking. Being a National Park, there is no singletrack, but the scenery is beautiful.
This loop passes by Witch Hole Pond, Eagle Lake, and Jordan Pond featuring excellent views of each. Most of the route is beneath the foliage, which is particularly beautiful during leaf season in October. Breaks in the foliage along the southern end of the loop and atop Day Mountain offer spectacular views of Mount Desert Island and the Atlantic.
Need to Know
Parking is a significant issue at Acadia. Exploring the park by bicycle will reduce the impact of your visit.
The route starts at the Hull Cove Visitor Center where there is a large parking lot. There is a short access carriage road (Hulls Cove Visitor Center Connector
) at the far end of the lot. The climb up this access road is the most difficult part of the ride save for the longer climb up to Day Mountain.
At the top of the climb, turn sharp left onto Paradise Hill
. The climb continues at a gentler grade and a few breaks in the trees offer glimpses of the Atlantic. Then it's downhill onto Witch Hole Pond
. Look for the first of Rockefeller's famous bridges across Duck Brook Pond at 2.5 miles. This also offers an alternate access point to this loop as there is limited parking along Duck Brook Road on the other side of the bridge.
Turn left at the Witch Hole Connector
and follow it past the Breakneck Ponds. This connector takes you all the way to Eagle Lake. Another of Mr. Rockefeller's bridges greets you at the lake. This is one of the more popular areas in the park and you'll find a lot of users making the loop around the lake. Join them going clockwise around the lake. When you reach intersection seven at the southern end of the lake, take the Eagle Lake - Bubble Pond Cutoff
carriage road towards Bubble Pond and the Bubble Pone - Wildwood carriage road. There is another stone bridge at the foot of the lake. A short climb awaits at the southern end of Bubble Pond. Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the park, lies just to the east and you'll have good views of it from this segment.
At the next intersection (#17/37), there is another bridge and you should take the Day Mt. Loop
clockwise to the Day Mt. Summit
carriage road. Along this segment, there are some good breaks in the forest cover and you've got a great view towards Schoodic Peninsula to the east across Frenchman Bay. The Day Mt. Summit
takes you to the highest point on the ride atop Day Mountain from which you've got a great view towards Southwest Harbor and the Atlantic.
After enjoying the view, return down the Day Mt. Summit
and continue clockwise along the Day Mt. Loop
. At the four-way intersection (#17/37), turn left onto Jordan Pond - Wildwood
. This takes you past the Jordan Pond Gate House to the southern end of Jordan Pond. This is another popular area, so expect a lot of other users on the carriage roads in this area. The Jordan Pond House is also nearby which has a restaurant featuring their trademark popovers.
Next, follow Eagle Lake - Jordan Pond
along the west side of Jordan Pond. This climbs up above the lake to another major intersection (#10). Halfway up, you'll cross the final stone bridge along this route. A short footpath offers a better view of the bridge. At the end of Eagle Lake - Jordan Pond
(#10S), turn right onto the Eagle Lake - Jordan Pond Cutoff
towards Eagle Lake and then at intersection eight turn left to continue back down along the western side of Eagle Lake.
At the north end of Eagle Lake, the Witch Hole Connector
takes you back to Witch Hole Pond
which takes you to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center Connector
to complete the loop.
History & Background
The carriage roads were built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. from 1913 to 1940 on land which he later donated to the United States as the core of Acadia National Park. The roads were built with locally sourced granite and stone. Large blocks of granite (coping stones) line parts of the route as a sort of guardrail. The carriage roads were blended with the contours to minimize disruption to the land while maximizing scenic views. Seventeen stone-faced bridges are sprinkled throughout the carriage road system.