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Biking Bar Harbor and Acadia

Biking Bar Harbor & Acadia
Miles & Miles & Miles

Biking Bar Harbor & Acadia

Your Guide to Biking Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor

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

Rents exclusively E-bikes limited to ages 16 and older with the option to add a trailer for children at an additional fee. These Acadia bike rentals must be reserved in advance and are picked up at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center within the park between 8:30 and 10 am where you’ll receive a quick orientation from staff. Bikes must be returned between 2 and 3pm of the same day.
Acadia Ebike Adventure website
Rates: $110
Acadia Outfitters has a large selection of 21-speed mountain and hybrid bikes in all sizes, plus a wide variety of accessories, including child seats, trailers, tagalongs, and bike racks. Each bike rental comes with a helmet and bottle cage. They also have E-bikes and even 49cc scooters for biking Acadia National Park with a little more zip. You can reserve bikes ahead of time by calling their store.
Acadia Outfitters website
Rates: Starting at $36 for adults
Since 1978, the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop has served the recreational and sport bikers of Mount Desert Island and continues to offer Acadia bike rentals for hybrid, kids, and E-bikes. They include free helmets and bike locks with all rentals. They also sell snacks and sports drinks to take with you and can meet you in the park to change a flat tire if needed. Call or use their online form to make bike reservations at least 48 hours in advance.
Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop website
Rates: Starting at $30 for adults
Pedego is an E-bike brand with a retail location in Bar Harbor that also offers rentals for their standard and premium models. All rentals are 8 hours and include helmets and locks. Trailers can be purchased for an additional fee. Designed to be accessible, Pedego bikes are a great way for older or less physically able adventurers to enjoy biking Acadia carriage roads.
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:

  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket or wind breaker
  • Bike lock
  • Basic bicycle repair kit
  • Wallet or cash
Photo of cyclists on a Carriage Trail at Eagle Lake with a marsh in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

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.

Image of Acadia National Park Carraige Trails
Image of Cycling Hand Signals
Cycling Hand Signals

 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.

Female mountain bike cyclist riding downhill along Cadillac Mountain road in Acadia National Park, a clear summer day with panoramic view of Acadia National Park (Maine, USA) landscape with lakes.

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 Bikes

It’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.
Photo of bike storage for the Bar Harbor Motel, Bar Harbor Maine.

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!

Sunrise Seekers: Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Summit

Sunrise Seekers
Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Summit

Pillow to Peak

Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Hike

Photo of Vehicles Parked on Cadillac Mountain

If you’re planning a trip to Acadia, you’ve probably considered catching a sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, and for good reason! Not only is Cadillac the highest peak in the park, it’s also the highest point on the eastern seaboard and provides visitors with magnificent, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, glacial coastline, and island landscape.

Homeland of the Wabanaki and key viewpoint for 17th century European cartographers, Cadillac has been summited by people for thousands of years. Its pink granite surface is speckled with foamy green lichen and punctuated with alpine blueberries and wind-swept pine trees. But perhaps the most stunning sight is the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain. From October to March, the 1530 ft peak is the first place in the United States for the sun to touch, but sunrise views are spectacular no matter the time of year.

Hiking Cadillac Mountain

There are three routes for hiking Cadillac Mountain, ranging from 2.5 miles to 7.1 miles roundtrip:

  • North Ridge Trail: Beginning at the Park Loop Road, this 4.4 mile trail begins up stone stairs through the woods but quickly opens up, providing hikers with frequent vistas and granite slopes. It takes an average of 2-4 hours to complete out and back and is the most popular route for hiking Cadillac Mountain.
  • South Ridge Trail: This 7.1 mile route begins at the Backwoods Campground in the southern end of the island and takes a gradual ascent up Cadillac. The first half of the climb is in forest, passing the Featherbed Pond while the second portion follows an exposed granite ridge. It takes a total of 3-6 hours to complete.
  • Gorge Path to Summit Loop: The shortest path up Cadillac, this 2.5 mile trail begins off the Park Loop Road—note limited parking. The trail heads into a forested area with a boardwalk and small streams before reaching the junction with the Dorr Mountain summit trail. It is a rocky and steeper ascent to Cadillac summit and takes an average of 1-2 hours to complete.

Planning Your Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Hike

While every trail is wonderful in its own right, our plan for an Acadia sunrise hike takes the convenient North Ridge Trail, perfect for hikers of all skill levels. The journey begins not at the trailhead, but in your warm and cozy bed at the Bar Harbor Motel. The motel property offers direct access to Acadia’s trails via the Duck Brook path. Departing for your Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike from your room at the motel eliminates the struggle of trailhead parking and summit road fees. You can prepare for hiking Cadillac Mountain in the comfort of your room, eat or pack a quick breakfast, and even borrow hiking gear from the front desk.

Photo of a map marking the trail from Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Mountain Summit

Your Route From the Bar Harbor Motel Up Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail

Out & Back Length: 7.5 miles
Approximate Time: 3-6 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
  1. Follow the road through the motel property until you reach the back where you’ll see signs for the path into Acadia National Park on your right. It can be helpful to scope out the trail entrance the day before as you’ll be approaching it in the dark for your Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike. You can ask a staff member to point it out if you’re having trouble finding it.
  2. The motel connects with Duck Brook Path, an easy-going packed dirt and wood chip path entering the park. Follow for .3 miles where the path intersects with Paradise Hill Road.
  3. Rather than passing under the bridge, climb the bank onto Paradise Hill Road and turn left to continue.
  4. Follow the paved road for a little under 1 mile, staying aware of passing vehicles. After eight tenths of a mile, you will pass the intersection with Cadillac Entrance Road. Keep right and follow signs for Cadillac Mountain. You’ll pass another bridge going over Eagle Lake Road shortly before coming upon the North Ridge trailhead. There is limited vehicle parking on both sides of the road.
  5. The trail begins on the left with a gravel path through the woods bridging Paradise Hill Road and Park Loop Road. Cross Park Loop Road and continue up the trail, beginning with a set of stone steps. Watch your footing on the first 1.5 miles as the wooded section of the trail is rocky. After that, the path becomes steeper but enjoy Cadillac’s flat granite slabs like sidewalks on your journey.
  1. ­­Continue to follow blue blazes and cairns and enjoy swaths of night sky as the trail becomes more exposed. At the fork shortly before the summit, keep right. The Cadillac North Ridge trail ends on the north side of the summit parking lot. You can take in additional vistas by walking the paved summit loop, grab a hot coffee in the gift store, or just head toward the south side to claim your spot and watch the sunrise.

Ensuring You Make it for Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Time

Sunrise in Acadia National Park is different depending on the time of year and hikers of differing experience levels will take different lengths of time to complete their Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike, so you will need to plan your departure time accordingly.

The sunrise itself typically lasts an hour and half with the most brilliant colors often revealing themselves in the middle. It’s up to you how long you would like to watch the sunrise, but the following table can be helpful in planning your estimated arrival time.

Time of YearStart of SunriseEnd of Sunrise
May 24 – July4 am5:30 am
August4:30 am6 am
September5 am6:30 am
October 1-155:30 am7 am
October 15-226 am7:30 am

The full hike up this route from the Bar Harbor Motel to the summit takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours so budget according to your typical hiking speed. Keep in mind that hiking in the dark can require you to slow down and pay more attention to the placement of your feet to avoid injury. You can use your preferred weather app, like AccuWeather, to check the Cadillac Mountain sunrise time on the specific day of your hike.

What to Bring on Your Acadia Sunrise Hike

At more than 7 miles, this route for hiking Cadillac Mountain is no walk in the park—pun intended. You should be prepared for your Acadia sunrise hike so that you can fully enjoy the beauty and walk away ready for another day of Acadia adventures.

What you wear is incredibly important! The Cadillac Mountain North Ridge trail is exposed and windy, and can often be 20+ degrees cooler at night than your daytime experience of Acadia National Park. Yet hiking is hard work that can quickly get you sweaty! It’s best to wear layers, including a wind breaker that you can add or remove as you climb. A small daypack can be useful for holding extra clothes.

You should also plan on wearing durable hiking boots with a decent tread to help you stay on your feet across the rocky terrain. Ensuring your boots are properly fitted and laced tightly to keep your ankles secure is key to avoiding injury.

Headlamps or flashlights are a must and other helpful items like trekking poles can make going in the dark easier. Talk to the front desk staff of the Bar Harbor Motel to see what hiking equipment we have available for guests to borrow.

Plan on bringing water and easy trail snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, jerky and trail mix. You may not be hungry at 3am when you get started but we bet you will be when you reach the summit! The Cadillac Mountain Eco Store gift shop also offers some grab and go food, cold beverages, and coffee. There’s nothing quite like munching on a pop tart and sipping hot coffee while you watch the sun raise its head above the Atlantic horizon.

Photo of sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
My first Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike, Sept. 16th at 6:02 am

The Return From Cadillac Mountain Summit

When you’ve had your fill of blazing sunrise or the chill atop Cadillac has gotten to you, it’s time to head back down. This is secretly our favorite part. On your way up, darkness hid most of the landscape and your motivation to arrive in time for sunrise kept your focus away from all the interesting details. But on the way down, you can take it slow and marvel at Maine’s coastal ecosystem spread out before you. And if you’re already antsy to explore more of Acadia National Park, consider heading down one of the other two trails to continue your adventures.

You’ll be back at your room by 9 am and hey, we won’t judge if you want to crawl back into bed and recover some of those lost hours of sleep. Or you can head to continental breakfast for fresh muffins, bagels, fruit and more to fuel your expeditions back into Acadia.

Driving to the Top of Cadillac

A road was constructed to the summit in 1931 and since then, sunrise at Cadillac Mountain has become an ever more popular attraction for visitors to Mount Desert Island. To help minimize the impact of vehicles on the Summit Road, a vehicle reservation is required to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

Photo of Vehicles Parked on Cadillac Mountain

One Town.
One National Park.
6 Bar Harbor Properties.

One Card

Photo of the Bar Harbor Hospitality Group Gift Card