A trip to Acadia NP isn’t complete without a tour of the island on the carriage roads. Whether you are walking or biking, the carriage roads offer forty-five miles of well-graded, crushed gravel paths that pass through some of the most beautiful scenery of Mount Desert Island. It was easy for us to access the carriage roads from our motel, with only about a mile ride on quiet, local roads, before we entered the park. We first rode south toward one of the big lakes of the island, called Eagle Lake. When Rockefeller planned his carriage roads, he designed a number of stone bridges to cross roads that carried cars, small creeks, and other natural features. Each bridge is different. The first one we came to, as we climbed the road around Parkman Mountain had charming spiral motifs at each end. Nobody builds bridges like this anymore, not by hand, and not with such attention to detail. As we climbed around Parkman, we saw nice views of Somes Sound, and could spot the area where we camped for our first two nights in Acadia.
The descent down the Parkman carriage road was fun and ultimately dumped us out on a local Mt. Desert Island road. We traveled north on this road briefly before turning on to a quieter road on Somes Sound, that several people had recommended to us as terrific for biking. Sargent Drive didn’t disappoint, with terrific views of Somes Sound, and quiet, almost traffic-free biking. We followed this road into Northeast Harbor and stopped in at the marina. There’s a mailboat service that ferries people and goods to the Cranberry Islands, just off the coast of Mt. Desert Island, several times a day. We bought round trip tickets and loaded our bikes on top of the mail boat. It was about a 45 minute ride to Great Cranberry Island, where we beat all the tourists to the only cafe on the island because we had bikes. After lunch and a look at the museum, we went for a short hike to Whistler Cove. We walked through tall pine trees on a board walk, and all around us small trees were trying to get a foot hold in the boggy peat of the island. The beach at Whistler Cove was made of smooth, well rounded rocks and we kept trying to find a more perfect egg-shaped rock. We hustled back to the dock for ice cream and to meet the 3:15 mail boat back to Northeast Harbor.
We planned to load our bikes onto the bike rack of an Island Explorer bus and hop a ride back to the motel. But because of our gear racks, we couldn’t secure them to the bus rack, and we ended up having to ride back to the motel. We accessed the carriage roads again just north of Northeast Harbor and had a leisurely ride back to the Edenbrook Motel. We stopped at Jordan Pond House once more for an afternoon snack of tea and popovers. We’re packing up all our gear and planning for our departure tomorrow!