In our humble opinion, biking offers one of the best ways to enjoy the pink granite mountains, tall spruces, stunning ocean views, and quaint shops of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Named the second-best national park for cyclists, Acadia has long been a destination for cyclists of all skill levels and ages. And if you’re looking for a way to avoid traffic and crowded parking lots, biking Acadia National Park can allow you to see and do more during your trip.
Whether you’re already an avid biker, ready to take on a 50 to 100 mile day (and not a small amount of elevation) or you’re visiting our island with your family and want a fun and easygoing way to explore the park there are amazing Acadia bike trails waiting for you. Before your hop on two wheels, let’s talk logistics!
Step 1: You Need a Bike!
Bike owners: consider what type of riding you’re interested in before you load your bike rack and hit the road to Mount Desert Island. While there are certainly places for a road bike to feel at home in Bar Harbor, many of our favorite Acadia National Park bike trails are packed dirt or gravel where a mountain bike, gravel bike, or cyclocross bike will serve you best. You can use a cycling app like Komoot to explore routes and different surface types before selecting from your quiver of bikes.
With a little under a 5-hour drive from Boston, you’ll also want to ensure your bikes are secure for the journey. Many bikes have a quick release on the front wheel so you can remove them to stash more easily inside your vehicle. Or you can use a bike rack, ensuring they’re locked in place and even taking a neighborhood drive to test stability before jumping on the highway.
For those of you who are bike-less or would rather not travel with your bikes, you’re in luck! It’s easy to acquire trail friendly bikes from one of five Bar Harbor bike rentals.
Bar Harbor Bike Rentals
Acadia Bike rents out mostly hybrid bikes with flat top handlebars and a relaxed, upright riding position for the most versatility on paved and gravel roads. They also have a fleet of E-bikes to make riding more accessible, as well as various sizes of children’s bikes and child trailers. Every bike includes a bottle cage, helmet, and map of Acadia’s carriage roads. As one of the most popular Bar Harbor bike rental options, they recommend reserving your bikes ahead of your trip.
Acadia BIke Rentals Website
Rates: Starting at $36 for adults
Acadia Ebike Adventure website
Acadia Outfitters website
Rates: Starting at $36 for adults
Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop website
Rates: Starting at $30 for adults
Pedego Bar Harbor website
Rates: Starting at $125
Other Gear for Biking Bar Harbor
Two wheels aren’t the only thing you’ll need for biking in Acadia National Park. First and foremost, you’ll want to bring water. Like cup holders in your car, bottle cages won’t fit your wide Nalgene or Stanley water bottle. Use a water bottle that is under 3 inches in diameter or bring a backpack that can fit your water. Snacks or picnic food is also great as the only food for purchase inside the park is at the Jordon Pond House. Most bike shops offer maps of trails, but those can also be picked up at visitors’ centers around Acadia.
Want to go a step further in preparing to bike Mount Desert Island? Here are some other items to bring along:
- Rain jacket or wind breaker
- Bike lock
- Basic bicycle repair kit
- Wallet or cash
Step 2: Choosing Your Bar Harbor & Acadia Bike Trails
From the Park Loop Road to climbing Cadillac Mountain, enjoying Acadia carriage roads, or finding peace along the less trafficked Western Mountain Roads, there are too many amazing trails to discuss in one blog. And that’s not even to mention biking Bar Harbor itself! Below you’ll find some of our favorites to make your Mount Desert Island bike adventure special.
Biking Acadia Carriage Roads
Of course, Acadia is known for its 45 miles of carriage roads, commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, and built between 1913 and 1940. These motor free gravel roads follow the contours of the land, emphasize scenic views, and are shared by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-drawn carriages to this day. They are perfect for bikers of all skill levels and allow you to check off some of the best sights in the park atop two wheels. Most Acadia carriage roads do have some variable elevation, but you can always hop off and walk while enjoying the views.
We love the tri-lakes loop, an 11-mile route that takes you along the edge of Eagle Lake, Bubble Pond, and Jordan pond. This route can also be broken into two smaller loops for those looking for a shorter ride with equally rewarding views.
Note that you will need a park pass to access Acadia carriage roads. It’s $20 per day to enter the park via bicycle or $35 if you have a vehicle. Passes can be reserved online or purchased same day at the front desk of any Bar Harbor Hospitality Group property or Acadia Visitors’ Center.
Bar Harbor Bike Trails
You don’t need to be limited to biking Acadia National Park during your trip to Mount Desert Island. Bikes are also a great way to get to downtown Bar Harbor and avoid the stress of vehicle parking. It’s easy to bike from your Witham property to convenient bike racks along Cottage St. or Main St. before taking on the town by foot. Bikers should be aware of traffic in downtown and ride with caution, always wearing a helmet. Practice your turn signals to ensure you’re communicating with other road users and enjoy wandering the busiest sections of town on foot once you arrive.
Cycling Routes for Expert Riders
Road cyclists will also enjoy biking the park loop road, a 27-mile paved scenic route around the Northeast section of Mount Desert Island. A large portion of the road is one-way traffic only and bikers must obey the direction of traffic. There is no bike lane and many narrow sections and steep turns, so this Acadia bike trail is recommended only for experienced cyclists. The best times to bike the Park Loop Road are mornings before vehicle traffic picks up or on weekdays. For an extra challenge, cyclists can also bike up the Cadillac Summit Road, gaining almost 1,000 feet of elevation in just over 3 miles.
For a good workout and fewer cars to share the road with, sport cyclists can head to Southwest Harbor where you’ll find well-paved surfaces and views of the Cranberry Islands, Bass Harbor Head Light, and more. Depending on your starting point, these routes can be anywhere from 16 to 86 miles long.
Step 3: Start Your Ride
Are your feet antsy to pedal yet? Before you launch, let’s talk about transporting your bikes and starting your ride. If you’re staying at one of the downtown Bar Harbor accommodations like the Bar Harbor Grand or Villager Motel, it’s a quick 1.5 mile road bike to the Cadillac park entrance. Guests of the Acadia Inn or Bar Harbor Motel can head into the park by walking their bikes along the connecting Duck Brook Path, putting you and your family on some of the best carriage roads to bike in Acadia in less than a mile.
The free Island Explorer shuttle bus also stops directly in front of many of the Witham properties and other convenient downtown locations. Equipped with bike racks, the bus can easily transport you into the park and bring you home at the end of an adventurous day biking Acadia National Park.
If you do choose to drive into Acadia with your bikes, we recommend getting to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center early to secure parking and then taking the bus to other destinations throughout the park.
Step 4: Storing Your BikesIt’s nearly impossible to see all Acadia has to offer in one day and there are many amazing hikes and activities that can’t be done on a bike. The Bar Harbor Motel offers fully enclosed and locked bike storage on site, so you can keep your bikes safe while you explore our Island on foot or by car. Bikes are also generally safe on a locked vehicle bike rack overnight.
Step 5: Recouping From Your Ride
When you’ve had your fill of biking in Acadia National Park and exploring Bar Harbor bike trails, it’s time to wind down. Make sure to rehydrate after your ride, stretch to avoid sore muscles to following day, and return your bikes at the appropriate time if renting from a local shop. And for the kids who just can’t get enough, they’ll find companions lapping the ¼ road that runs the length of the Bar Harbor Motel property into the evening.
Cheers to traveling on two wheels!