Biking the carriage roads in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park has 45 miles of carriage roads built in the early half of the 1900s by the Rockefeller family. (Well you know, they paid for it.)

The Rockefellers wanted to create a car-free way to enjoy Mount Desert Island. Today, these dirt and gravel packed paths are used for biking, running and walking (though as the name implies, horses were once more prominent). The carriage roads sounded a lot like to me like the bridle path in Central Park, and for some reason, I assumed they would be largely without incline.

biking acadia national park

The day after our long run, I suggested we go for a bike ride along the carriage roads instead of a hike because I thought I’d get to rest my legs a bit. I didn’t say that precisely to Matt because I knew he would want to push himself/us to do a tougher/harder/more tiring activity.  Maybe it shouldn’t go without saying but the premise of all of our trips seems to be meet our physical limits (example a, example b).

biking acadia national park

So I casually suggested a bike ride and knew it would be an easy sell with Matt given my recent entry into the biking world. It was! Matt was totally down for a bike ride. (“Score one for the good guy,” I thought.)

We rented bikes at the Bar Harbor Bike Shop right in town and about a mile from the carriage roads.  When they asked what sort of bike we wanted, I started to say, “a cruiser” but Matt jumped in with “two hybrids” and I figured whatever, I can ignore the gears if I want.

biking acadia national park

The bike ride to the park was 100% uphill. “Be cool,” I thought to myself, it’s just a little up and then smooth sailing when you get to the park.

biking acadia national park
FYI I am Hamilton

I was wrong. Dead wrong. We biked for 20 miles and there was nearly no straight-aways. The entire park is either up or down. There are some really long, steep and challenging inclines. I have no idea why I thought biking through a national park with loads of steep hikes would be flat. This was the hardest bike ride I’ve ever done, but also the most beautiful.

biking acadia national park

Cardio intensity aside, if you’re emotionally and physically prepared, this is a perfect way to explore the park. There are no cars on the road so it’s just you, some other bikers and pedestrians. The carriage road map is smartly marked with numbered points that correspond to signs on the road. It’s very easy to make your way around the 45-miles of trails. We passed incredible vistas and I would totally recommend experiencing Acadia this way.

Just know: it’s not going to be an easy toodle on your bike. Ecosmo have a great range of folding bicycles – perfect for commuters.

Have you ever biked the carriage roads? What’s your favorite bike ride?


  1. August 3, 2017 / 9:56 am

    That sounds so tough! I’m not a bike rider at all so there’s no way I could have handled it!
    I bet all the views were well worth it though – great pictures!
    I’d love to visit some of the US National Parks, they look stunning 😀

    Rachel | Coffee & Avocados

    • Nicole
      August 3, 2017 / 10:01 am

      It was tough but the views make it totally worth it! I’m a new bike rider so each ride like this is a big challenge!!

  2. Anne
    August 7, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    Acadia is one of my happy places. I love it there. Haven’t biked the carriage roads in many, many years – but no, they’re definitely not flat! 🙂

    • Nicole
      August 7, 2017 / 1:43 pm

      ha indeed 🙂

  3. Jilly
    August 12, 2017 / 11:40 am

    I love the shirt you are wearing!!!!! #imwithher

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