Carriage Road Tours
Built between 1915 – 1933 by the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Acadia National Park’s 45 miles of carriage roads are its dearest man-made attraction, lovingly maintained by volunteers and park staff. The scenic gravel roads and granite bridges, which wind though the hills, valleys, forests and lakes on Mount Desert Island, are closed to motor vehicle traffic, which means they are perfect for walking or biking. In the winter, some visitors even traverse them on cross-country skis.
Or, if you’re in the mood for something extra special, take a sightseeing tour of the roads as they were meant to be traveled — by horse-drawn carriage. Whatever method you choose, don’t forget to stop in at the historic Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers, a 19th-century New England tradition that’s kept alive and well at Acadia.
Hiking in Acadia — particularly in the autumn, as fall colors start to come in – is a great way to appreciate the park’s diverse terrain and natural beauty. The park’s 125 miles of hiking trails include broad stretches of flat meadow and steep climbs up rock formations. Be sure to consult trail maps when planning a route, and check for seasonal and temporary trail closures beforehand.
Visitors in search of a challenge might consider climbing some of Acadia’s rock faces, made from pink granite hewn by glaciers. Experienced climbers can (and should) take advantage of sea cliff climbing at Otter Cliffs and Great Head, but be sure to check the tides and weather forecasts before attempting them. A nasty gale or a rising tide are not things you’d want to negotiate while ascending a sheer cliff.
While many visitors explore the coastline of Acadia National Park on charter boats, the more adventurous sort might enjoy a guided sea kayak excursion in the waters west of Mount Desert Island. Generally available from late May through early October, sea kayak tours are a great way to experience the undeveloped coastline around the park, view marine wildlife and get a taste of the region’s “off the beaten path” flavor.