Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As
If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our new page linking in one place all the Q&As.
Hi, we are making our first trip to Acadia June 26 – July 8. We will camp at Blackwoods. Is it possible to bike from the campground to the carriage roads? Concern is with vehicle traffic and if there is sufficient road shoulder. Thanks. – Jay Miller, Brighton, Mich.
Great timing for your first trip to Acadia. Not only is it the Centennial year – your final day is the actual 100th anniversary. Plus, you’re arriving soon after the fare-free Island Explorer bus starts running for the season, on June 23, giving you more options to get around the park car-free.
You have a couple of options for bicycling Acadia carriage roads from Blackwoods Campground. You can bike along the Park Loop Road for 3 miles to the carriage roads, or take the bikes on the Island Explorer not only to the carriage roads, but also even to the Schoodic section of the park, where new bike trails opened last year.
From the campground, there’s a short 0.1 mile dirt path that you can walk your bikes down to the 1-way Park Loop Road. Bike along the right-hand lane of the 2-lane road, following the traffic. Go under the ME 3 overpass, and at the next overpass, you’ll reach the junction with the carriage road system near Day Mountain. Walk your bike up the dirt path to the carriage road at intersection 17.
This 3-mile section of the Park Loop Road between Blackwoods and the carriage road system would be a less busy part of the 1-way road than the section over by Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, where cars often park along the right-hand lane, making it difficult to bicycle. And biking the Park Loop Road, where the posted speed limit is no more than 35 miles per hour, is certainly safer than trying to bike along the shoulder of ME 3.
This section of the Park Loop Road also offers access to Little Hunters Beach, reached by a hidden set of stairs on the left side of the road, about 1 mile from Blackwoods. Park your bikes and explore. There is also a new wayside exhibit here describing the area.
Island Explorer offers options for bicycling Acadia carriage roads
To return to Blackwoods after a day of bicycling Acadia carriage roads, you would want to take the Island Explorer to the Village Green in Bar Harbor, and then transfer to the bus to Blackwoods. You wouldn’t be able to backtrack on the 1-way Park Loop Road, since that would be going against traffic, contrary to safe biking.
If you plan to have lunch at Jordan Pond House (reservations recommended), the Island Explorer Web site advises that you don’t try to take the bus to the Village Green from there, since there’s only room for 6 bikes on each bus, and it’s usually full coming from Northeast Harbor.
Instead, it’s recommended you bike to Eagle Lake to take the Island Explorer’s Bicycle Express to the Village Green, or bike to Duck Brook Bridge and the West Street Extension, to head over to the Village Green. Be careful crossing busy ME 3 from the West Street Extension to head over to the Village Green.
Since you have 2 weeks in Acadia, Jay, what would even be more of an adventure is to take your bikes on the Island Explorer to the Village Green, catch the ferry to Winter Harbor, and hop on the Island Explorer over to the Schoodic section of the park, the only section on the mainland.
It’s too early for the ferry schedule to be finalized, but check the schedule as you get closer to your arrival. There’s a fee for the ferry, and there may also be a fee for the bicycles. But the Island Explorer over on Schoodic would also be fare-free, just as it is on Mount Desert Island.
There are 8.3 miles of bike paths in the new Schoodic Woods section of Acadia, as well as the paved 1-way Schoodic Park Loop Road that can also be bicycled. Be sure to know the Island Explorer and ferry schedule, because you don’t want to miss the last ferry back to Bar Harbor.
There’s no snack bar in the Schoodic section of the park, but the Island Explorer has stops in Winter Harbor and other villages, where you can stop for lunch or a little bit of shopping. Or you can pack your own lunch for the all-day adventure.
Enjoy your first-ever visit, Jay! Be sure to check out the official Acadia Centennial calendar of events for things going on during your stay.
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Is there a part of the carriage roads that cannot be biked, but should be done by carriage?
Hi Karla, the only part of the carriage roads that cannot be biked would be the private carriage roads, as marked. Pedestrians are welcome on those stretches. Here’s the official park map for the carriage road system, showing where the private carriage roads are: https://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/upload/CRUMmap.pdf And here is the Web site for the family-owned business that is the official concessionaire for horse-drawn carriage rides in Acadia: https://www.acadiahorses.com/
Thank you for the posting. Is there a safe route ( not too much car traffic) from Bar Harbor bike shop to Acacia carriage roads because the Island Explorer is not running after Columbus day?
Is there a scenic loop for a 10 mile ride using the carriage road system? We are cruise ship passengers and our time is limited.
Hi Anne, thanks for the question! The Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop describes the distance on the streets as being about 1-1/4 mile, see their FAQs here: http://barharborbike.com/faq/ From Cottage Street, you would head over to West Street Extension, and from there you would hook up with the section of Duck Brook Road that is now closed to cars, and get on the carriage roads at Duck Brook Bridge. From there, you can head south toward Eagle Lake and do the loop around there, for about 10 miles on the carriage road. Here’s a link to the park’s carriage road map. https://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/upload/CRUMmap.pdf Hopefully you’ll have lovely foliage peeping weather.
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Jim – Thanks for taking the time to provide this thoughtful comment. Those are some detailed and helpful directions on how to return by bike to the Blackwoods Campground from the Jordan Pond House. Jay, or other bicyclists at the campground, are getting some great advice.
Good thing Jay is visiting after the Island Explorer starts running. It is a shame that Acadia National Park makes it so difficult to access the carriage roads from Blackwoods and safely return. Although Acadia National Park is a great place for biking, going from Jordan Pond House to Blackwoods by bike is a case where the Maine expression, “You can’t get there from here.”, applies. AOMM’s suggestion of riding back to Eagle Lake on the carriage roads and then taking the bike trailer back to Village Green to pick up the Blackwoods campground bus is a good way to go under the circumstances.
One relatively safe way to return to Blackwoods from Jordan Pond House by bike is to head south from Jordan Pond about half a mile on the Park Loop road, whichis narrow and crowded in the afternoon. Turn right on to the Stanley Brook road where the one way portion of the Park Loop road ends and one can go no further. After turning on to the Stanley Brook road, immediately take your first left on to the Jordan Pond road, a local residential road in Seal Harbor. Turn left after about half a mile on to the Wildwood road and follow it right on to the Upper Dunbar road, both of which are residential streets. The Upper Dunbar road ends at route 3. Turn left on route 3, which is wide, and follow it for 2 miles back to Blackwoods. Since Seal Harbor is residential and its residents value their privacy, this is recommended for small groups only and is better done in June than in August.
Thank you so much for this valuable information. We are looking forward to many great adventures in Acadia.
Glad we could help with your trip planning, Jay! May there be many adventures in Acadia in the future for you.