Carriage Roads#7 in Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park
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The Carriage Roads are a 57-mile long network of paved paths created and funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. from 1913 to 1940. Over the course of the 27-year project, Rockefeller hand-designed the paths to highlight the best scenery the park had to offer, circling around Jordan Pond, Eagle Lake and Mount Desert Island. After a weatherproofing and modernizing project in the 1990s, the Carriage Roads reopened to the public. The roads (which are off-limits to motor vehicles) are great for those on bikes, horses and inline skates who want to explore some of Acadia's more rustic areas. And unlike most other trails, the Carriage Roads are kept open in the winter to be repurposed as skiing and snowshoeing routes.
Recent travelers said a walk or bike ride here really allows visitors to appreciate the beauty of Acadia, and many highly recommended planning a fall visit just to see the spectacular foliage. Many also suggest booking a horse-drawn carriage ride along the trails for an unforgettable experience; be sure to reserve a spot early though, as they fill up quickly. If you want to avoid the crowds, reviewers suggest you get on the road early and try to visit on a weekday.
You can enter the Carriage Roads at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to the north of Mount Desert Island or by Park Headquarters by Eagle Lake. The Island Explorer shuttle also provides access; Route Nos. 5 and 6 stop here. You can also hop on the Carriage Roads via several hiking trails (the park's more than 150 miles of trails often connect with or cross the roads), including Precipice Trail. Keep in mind that bikes are prohibited on the privately-owned portions of the Carriage Roads, and all visitors should yield to horses as they're easy to spook.
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#1 Cadillac Mountain
Standing about 1,530 feet in height, Cadillac Mountain wins a lot of superlatives. Not only is it the tallest mountain in the park, but it's the tallest mountain on the North Atlantic seaboard. Whether you hike up the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail or drive up the 3 1/2-mile narrow access road, go early. As the only attraction in the park that can be reached by car, Cadillac tends to draw crowds. If you do arrive by car, you should drive slowly, especially as the roadside cliffs get steep. Along the road, you'll find several small observation areas: take advantage of those before you reach the top, where the crowds and tour buses congregate.
For the ultimate vistas, set your alarm clock and try to catch a sunrise here. Cadillac Mountain is the first point of the United States to greet the rising sun's rays from early October to early March, and visitors assure it is a spectacular sight to see. While recent travelers said a trip to Acadia isn't complete without a stop at Cadillac Mountain, they also cautioned the area gets crowded, even in the early morning hours (some reported arriving two hours before sunrise). If you're visiting during the winter months, you'll have to hike the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail; the park closes down the access road for the winter season. Pack blankets and hold on to your hats, too, as it gets chillier as you ascend.
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