National Park

Acadia National Park’s carriage road is perfect for hikers

Acadia National Park is one of America’s greatest national treasures along the east coast. It is enriched by a gift from philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. about 100 years ago by his creation of Mount Desert Island‘s famous carriage roads. Explore beautiful Mount Desert Island and experience approximately 45 miles of rustic carriage roads.

Acadia is full of rewarding hikes – some of which are busy while others are quieter, strenuous and not for beginners. But there, plan to hike or bike at least some of the motorable roads and see the many charming stone bridges in the network. Discover the work of a man who loved to relax in nature away from noisy vehicles, then offered his land and his creation to the American people.

The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Project

John D. Rockefeller Jr. was a skilled rider who opposed the growing presence of early automobiles on the peaceful island of Mount Desert. Although he was unable to get automobiles banned on the island, he set out to build a network of motorless lanes for horses and carriages in the heart of the island (mainly on the eastern side of the island). Isle).

  • Or: On the island of Mount Desert
  • Manufacturer: John D. Rockefeller Jr.

In a way, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was following in the footsteps of his father, John D. Rockefeller Sr., who had previously built carriage roads on his private estates in Ohio and New York. He acquired a love of road building and personally supervised the construction of motorable roads so that he did not need to encounter automobiles while relaxing on the island.

Acadia National Park – one of the most popular in the United States – was largely created from land donated by Rockefeller. Most motorable roads are within the boundaries of the national park and have been listed as National Historic Sites since 1979.

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What to know about rustic carriage roads

Rockefeller was careful to ensure the roads flowed with the natural setting and even built them with Maine’s humid coastal climate in mind.

  • Length: 45 miles of rustic carriage roads
  • Built: Between 1913 and 1940
  • Bridges: Sixteen granite bridges

The carriage roads are about 16 feet wide and span streams with stunning stone bridges. There are also door pavilions that act as impressive roadway welcomes. Follow them through streams, past waters and along cliffs. The granite copings that serve as railings along the roads are affectionately called “Rockefeller’s Teeth”.

Motorable roads are laid out to take advantage of the island’s natural terrain and provide access to beautiful views of the region’s lakes, mountains, and bays. There are also many footpaths starting from causeways in the woods.

Related: Every Out-of-the-Box Thing You Can Do in Maine (It’s Not Just Hiking)

Use motorable roads today

Today, people can hike and enjoy a nostalgic carriage ride on these rustic roads with their scenic vistas and up-close views of the landscape. Motor roads are an example of the broken stone roads that were common around the turn of the century.

Today, the pavements are not only reserved for horse-drawn carriages – pedestrians and cyclists are also welcome to use them. Motor vehicles remain prohibited. Be prepared for the crowds however, some road segments are extremely popular.

  • Motor vehicles: Rest prohibited on motorable roads

Come in winter and most of the network is open to cross-country skiing and a small part to snowmobiling.

  • Winter: Open to skiing and some snowmobiling

One can rent bikes from Acadia Bike and explore the scenic network. One of the favorite routes for cyclists is the 35 km long Park Loop Road. It also includes several miles along Ocean Drive (this part is heavily traveled by cars and RVs.

The roads were built for horses and today most roads are open to travel on horseback, either on a carriage ride with Wildwood Stables or with your own horse. Before setting off on the timeless carriage roads, download a copy of the Carriage Road User Map to better identify the trails, routes and roads where horses are permitted.


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