Approximately 5 hours northeast of Boston (depending on traffic…) lies a natural paradise well known for its incredible hikes, beautiful Atlantic coastline, and lobstah bisque. We are of course talking about Acadia National Park and the neighboring communities on Mount Desert Island. Perhaps lesser known, or easier to overlook for the cyclist in search of their next outing, are its 45 miles of car-free gravel carriage roads.

Map of the many carriage roads (green) and hiking trails (red) of Acadia N.P.

Crafted by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940, these roads allow access to some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Mount Desert Island, winding past numerous lakes, waterfalls, and over meticulously crafted stone bridges.

For two city dwelling cyclists in search of a weekend of riding far from drivers with a strong predilection for parking in bike lanes and overusing their horns, it was the perfect place for us to unwind and put in some gravel miles for a proper christening of Nancy’s recently completed All-City Space Horse Build.

Popovers at Jordan Pond House are the perfect pre-, mid-, or post-ride treat!

There is something truly wonderful about riding through nature on trails purpose built for the enjoyment of nature via human-powered or non-motorized transportation. As we pedaled through many of the park’s mountain valleys and up its summits en route for another round of popovers at the Jordan Pond House, I was once again struck by the truism of that classic Ernest Hemingway quote: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”

In this regard, the Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park are a truly special gift to cyclists and I could not imagine experiencing it any other way. But then again, with as many popovers as we ate while riding back and forth across the island that is probably a good thing! Can’t wait for a return!