There is a lot to see and do in Acadia National Park. Without the “distraction” of work and internet, I was amazed at how much one can pack into a five-day vacation! After a little reconnaissance of the park on our first day, we decided to rent bikes on the second one. For $25 per bike per day, we each picked a suitable model of the ones presented in the store and soon thereafter, we were proud bike owners for the day. Our starting point was the town center of Bar Harbor and our goal was to ride the park’s carriage roads. I expected a very relaxing day, coasting along flat roads. I was wrong.
Between 1913 and 1940, John D. Rockefeller Jr. built 57 miles of carriage roads on Desert Island, utilizing local granite for the bridges and “broken-stone” roads. The landscaped trail system was to be used by hikers, bikers, horse riders and horse-drawn carriages. Motor vehicles were and are prohibited. 45 of those rustic miles are located in Acadia NP and offer an enjoyable way of seeing the interior of the park. The gravel paths are easy to bike on and the views are sweeping. This state-of-the-art path system is well-marked with signs at each intersection and the free carriage road map is extremely helpful and informative. As a “flatlander” from Belgium, I am used to riding bikes as a means of transportation, but here in the US I seem to forget that biking is a hobby or sport and that the countryside is often hilly, if not mountainous…
While the first uphill stretches of carriage road had me grunting, sweating and complaining, once I realized every other tourist seemed to take these challenges in stride (it was good exercise after all), I felt more energized and started to enjoy the views, the action, the accomplishments and even the peddling – once I knew how to work the gears a bit better. Yes, there were still a few uphill battles that were won by walking along my bike instead of huffing on top of it (“See you later, Mark!”), but the whole experience was satisfying and fun, especially whooshing downhill at high speed!
Mark and I managed to explore about 25 of the 45 accessible miles by bike and – despite our sore bums – decided to finish our tour in Bar Harbor, instead of taking a bike shuttle back those last miles. We especially appreciated the off the beaten track loops of the carriage road system, where few visitors venture. The bridges were pieces of art, the views were outstretched and the peace was complete!
Do you like biking? As a mode of transportation or as a hobby? What are your favorite places to bike?