Acadia National Park Carriage Roads


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Acadia National Park Carriage Roads Facts

States: Maine
Counties: Hancock, Knox
Length: 45 miles
Trail end points: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, 25 Visitor Center Rd (Bar Harbor) and Jordan Pond Tea House
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 13680133

Acadia National Park Carriage Roads Description


The Acadia National Park Carriage Roads carry hikers, cyclists, and horse-drawn carriages across Acadia National Park much like they have for the past 100 years since their construction, directed and funded by billionaire John D. Rockefeller.

The carriage roads weave through the heart of the park and connect many historic sites, scenic vistas, and hiking areas for 45 miles, with 12 additional miles outside the national park.

The carriage roads are famous for their stone arch bridges that span waterfalls and streams in numerous places along the route and the large granite stone guardrails which have been known to some as "Rockefeller's Teeth"¿

As Rockefeller intended, most of the trails are low-grade and have a 16-ft wide smooth gravel surface, similar to the construction of a typical rail trail.

There are numerous routes and ways to explore the Acadia National Park Carriage Roads, and trail users should see the TrailLink Map or the Acadia National Park website for more information.

Note: There are several trail use restrictions in place along the carriage roads. Paradise Hill and Witch Hole Pond loops do not allow horses. Swimming and wading are prohibited in all ponds along the route. The Carriage Roads are closed to motorized vehicles, including Class 2 & 3 e-bikes, segways, and hoverboards. Exceptions are in place for individuals with disabilities.

About the Route

The northernmost access point for the carriage roads is located at Hulls Cove Visitor Center. From here, the trail travels south, with a loop around Witch Hole Pond. Near here, the Duck Brook Bridge is a fantastic site that spans high above the stream and tree line.

Just south of where the carriage roads pass the Park Headquarters, there is a circuitous route around Eagle Lake that provides some of the most scenic views of the surrounding mountains as well as clear blue water.

Just south of Eagle Lake is Bubble Pond and the nearby Bubble Rock hike which features a 100-ton glacial erratic that appears to be falling off a cliff. From Bubble Pond, there is also hiking access to the summit of Cadillac Mountain which experiences the first sunrise in the United States from October to March.

On the western side of Bubble Pond is Jordan Pond and the famous Jordan Pond Tea House, accessible via. carriage roads on the southern end of the pond. This historic spot is famous for its tea and popovers, which have been served on the lawn overlooking the pond since 1893.

Several shorter loops intersect in the area to the south of Jordan Pond, providing trail users with opportunities to explore in multiple directions.

Note that to the south of Jordan Pond, there is a network of carriage roads outside Acadia in the Land & Garden Preserve that are open to the public but prohibit bicycles.


Parking and Trail Access

The Acadia National Park Carriage Roads carry visitors throughout the heart of Acadia National Park with many parking options and access options.

Visitors are strongly encouraged to access the carriage roads on one of Acadia's free Island Explorer bus shuttles, which are equipped with bike racks and wheelchair lifts for accessibility. Shuttles provide service to many locations on Mount Desert Island, including carriage road trailheads. See the park's Island Explorer page for more information.

Parking is available at:

  • Hulls Cove Visitor Center, 25 Visitor Center Rd. (Bar Harbor)
  • Eagle Lake, 487 Eagle Lake Road (Bar Harbor)
  • Jordan Pond Tea House, 2829 Park Loop Road (Seal Harbor)

Please see TrailLink Map for detailed directions.


Acadia National Park Carriage Roads Reviews

A Superb Gravel-grinding Adventure

The carriage roads of Acadia National Park are among the most beautiful and rewarding places I've ridden. They are unique and unlike a typical rail-trail, but if they were, they would undoubtedly be in the Hall of Fame. The riding on the carriage roads is comparable to the Virginia Creeper Trail, with some climbing and numerous great views, but the carriage roads are generally wider and more engineered. They offer a fantastic range of scenery, including dense forests, lakes, stream crossings over historic stone bridges and spectacular views of the coastal mountains, bays, ocean and inland Maine. With forty-five miles open to bicycles, one can plan a variety of rides from relatively flat and easy circuits around the lakes and ponds to more extended climbing in the mountains. The grade is typically gentle and the National Park Service does a wonderful job of keeping the carriage roads groomed and free of obstacles. Being the only national park in the region, Acadia can be very crowded during the summer and the carriage roads are often congested. Cyclists need to be very careful around horses in particular. The more challenging and remote sections of the carriage roads are typically less crowded, so those are better choices during the summer. Late October to early November is the best time for cycling as the crowds, heat and humidity give way to crisp cool days without insect pests. The carriage roads can easily be ridden with almost any kind of bike except road bikes, but most riders would probably do best with a dedicated gravel bike, fat bike, hybrid or hardtail mountain bike. E-bikes are a common sight and can be rented in Bar Harbor. Suspension is mostly unnecessary but good tires are a must. Surface conditions can range from hardpack to fairly deep gravel, so wider tires with some teeth are helpful. Good brakes are also highly recommended. The carriage roads provide a fantastic cycling experience but they do require hundreds of hours of upkeep so please be sure to purchase a park pass. As a capstone to a stupendous carriage road adventure, Bar Harbor has plenty of restaurants where one can enjoy a traditional Maine post-ride pigout of chowdah, lobstah and beeah. Enjoy!

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