I am indebted to my friends Jon and Sharon for introducing me to the carriage roads in Acadia National Park. Most everyone knows I love to ride bikes. My friend Jon encouraged me to rent a bike and explore the carriage roads. My friend Sharon loaned me her book, Mr. Rockefeller’s Roads: The Untold Story of Acadia’s Carriage Roads and Their Creator. So I read the book and then went for a ride. The book was written by John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s granddaughter who is a landscape architect. She started doing research for a graduate school project and ended up writing an intriguing book about the development of Acadia National Park as well as the roads. While I knew that Rockefeller was a major financial contributor to the park, I had no idea how hands on he was in the development of the roads. He worked directly with the crews who built the roads and spent a great deal of time picking scenic routes through the park. You can read a short history of the carriage roads on the National Park Services website.
I packed a lunch, rented a bike, and loaded it on the special bike shuttle run by the Island Explorer Bus service. I started out at the Eagle Lake Entrance to the roads and rode first up to Aunt Betty’s Pond. I have two wonderful Aunt Bettys so it seemed a great way to start. Generally I followed the Around Mountain Road which is a longer loop. It is very scenic and it included crossing several of the beautiful stone bridges. I had lunch at the waterfall bridge. I finished the day with a trip down the western side of Jordon’s Pond and Eagle Lake. The roads are engineered to blend in with the Park’s natural beauty. Even the drainage for the roads is blended carefully into the surroundings. I probably wouldn’t have noticed how subtle this work was if I hadn’t read Sharon’s book. The gradual grades make for pleasant uphill climbs and easy downhill runs.
I can help but think about the foresight of people like Dorr and Rockefeller who recognized the natural beauty of Mt. Desert Island and took action to preserve it for the public at large and for future generations. Their thoughtful philanthropy has created a truly unique experience for any visitor to Acadia.