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Park Loop Road lies within the boundaries of the park offering four separate points of entry: Hull's Cove, Sieur de Monts, Stanley Brook and Cadillac Mountain. Eleven of the 27-mile road are one-way, from Sieur de Monts Spring to the Jordan Pond area.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was instrumental in the creation of Park Loop Road originally designed as a carriage path for his friends and acquaintances. Over 200 miles of carriage path remain today exclusive to bicyclists, hikers, carriage riders and equestrians. Features on the loop road include Thunder Hole, Otter Point, Jordan Pond, Ocean Drive, Sand Beach, Gorham Mountain and more.

One of the easiest access points to Park Loop Road is Hull's Cove which is directly off Rt. 3 before the town of Bar Harbor. Upon entering, a good place to begin is at the visitor center. An information bulletin board near the path which leads from the parking lot to the center, highlights seasonal park activities, openings and closings. Below the bulletin board is a box with detailed park maps. At the visitor center a 14 minute film runs continually giving you a thorough but quick overview of the park and its history. Park staff, glassed park model and maps offer a closer look at what you are about to experience. There is also a book store and restrooms located in the visitor center.

A short distance after leaving the visitor center you get quick glimpses of the town of Bar Harbor, Bar Island and a tiny cove dotted with white fishing boats. This is just a prelude to the spectacular upcoming sights. Notice the private lands to the left including a golf course. Shortly, you'll see a sign to Bar Harbor and Rt. 233. This is one of the park's access points known as Cadillac Entrance. Continue on and within a mile the road will fork. By staying straight, you will reach Cadillac Mountain, Bubble Pond and Jordan Pond areas. This section of road is two-way and is actually the tail end of your Park Loop Road journey. By turning left you'll begin on an incredible drive visiting famous highlights of Acadia.

Within the next few miles, there is access to the following trails: North Ridge, Gorge Trail, Door Trail, Hemlock and Strath Eden Trail. Each is clearly marked and well worn.

A short distance along the road you'll come to the Sieur de Monts Entrance which is Rt. 3. From this point forward the Park Loop Road is one-way. By making this 2 lane road one-way, the park service has reserved the right lane for slow traffic and even parked cars. If the spirit moves you to stop for a hike or sight see, you may do so instantaneously.

As you continue, you will see trail markers for Jessup Path and The Tarn. Bear Brook picnic grove will be on your left and immediately to your right will be Beaver Pond. We counted at least 5 beaver lodges within this tiny body of water. Access to Bear Brook Trail is just down the road. As you approach the Precipice Trail area, you will see several more trailheads, which might be closed due to nesting Peregrine Falcons. At this point, you are driving the ledges of Champlain Mountain. Views over the ocean hold your interest until to see the sheer rock cliffs of Precipice. A large parking area allows you to stop and absorb the breathtaking mountain. The Precipice Trail is clearly marked. Nesting falcons keep this trail closed mid-spring to late summer. Bird watchers enjoy arriving at this lot early in the morning to set up their telescopes in order to view the young falcon which are visible beginning mid-June.

After leaving the parking lot, you'll come to the park's contact station. This is where you pay the $10 daily entrance fee or $20 annual entrance fee. Sand Beach is the next highlight along this beautiful drive. The parking lot for Sand Beach has been built on three levels to accommodate as many cars as the area will allow. You may want to note that from the rear of the upper level, there is a trail leading to Thunder Hole, Ocean Path and Otter Cliffs. Sand Beach is a stunning natural sight considering the northern East Coast location. The white beach is long, beautiful and divinely tucked in the end of a cove. Restrooms and public phone are available.

Just beyond Sand Beach is Shore Path Trailhead. This is an impressive short hike offering some of the park's most spectacular scenery. The next feature is Thunder Hole. Again, a large parking lot is designated for this site. The hole itself is interesting to view but the thunderous echoes are awesome. Gorham Mountain Trailhead is next on this exhilarating journey. Traveling on you'll come to the Fabbri picnic area. Besides being a nice spot for a respite, this gravel road can be used as a cut through to the other side of Otter Point or about midway on this gravel road, Otter Cliffs Road intersects, which offers access back to Rt. 3.

Continuing on Park Loop Road you are literally awestruck with one of the most beautiful sights in America, Otter Point. The black cliffs with their evergreen canvas jut out into the sparkling blue ocean towering hundreds of feet above sea level. As you journey on, you'll notice some of the most fabulous hand cut stone bridges donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. This is Rt. 3 passing overhead. Wildwood Stables is located on up the road offering horse rental for use along the carriage roads. Incidentally, bikes and bike racks may be rented in the town of Bar Harbor for use along the carriage roads.

Next, you'll come to the old gatehouse which marks an entrance to the carriage roads. Immediately on your left is Jordan Pond House. Generations have enjoyed afternoon tea overlooking the placid deep cool waters of Jordan Pond. This area offers a full service restaurant, restrooms and extensive book, map and gift shop. Film, candy, postcards and trinkets are available as well. Through the trees is the parking lot to Jordan Pond which offers several trails, boat launch and an incredible view of the twin peaks of Bubble.

A mile or so on up the road, which is now two-way again, is Bubble Rock. This is one of the most lovely mountain ponds you are bound to see. It lies within Pemetic and Cadillac Mountain. Our trip rewarded us with visiting loons whose long drawn out cries echoed throughout the valley. The carriage road travels alongside Bubble Pond. The large parking area makes for a convenient fishermen, hikers and mountain bikers access point to the interior carriage roads.

A couple miles up the road is the grand finale to this scenic drive, Cadillac Mountain. It is a side road to the right. Watch for hikers and bikers along this route. There are a number of pullouts available. The road is lined with white and pink saw-toothed granite serving as much needed guard rails. One gorgeous view after another greet you on your upward journey. When you reach the top, you'll discover a small gift shop and a large parking lot. This is also the destination of many of the park's trails. Drinking water and pit toilets are here too. There is a small circular trail traversing the top of the mountain offering a 380 degree continual view of the mountains, mountain lakes and ponds, the North Atlantic, Bar Harbor, the many islands. Descending Cadillac Mountain is just as spectacular if not more so. It is a very memorable experience that many people enjoy at sunrise and sunset.

After you reach the main loop road again, it will be a short distance until you reach the Hull's Cove area and back out onto Rt. 3.

Elevation: 1,530 Feet

Directions: From Bar Harbor, ME, Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island, Maine, immediately southwest of Bar Harbor. From the junction of SR 3 & SR 233 in Bar Harbor, travel south for 5 miles on SR 3. The points of entry along the circular route are Hull's Cove (by visitor center), Sieur de Monts, Stanley Brook and Cadillac Mountain.

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Expert Review of Park Loop Road

Parks and Outdoors Review of Park Loop Road

Away Travel Expert: Content by Wildernet
expert favorite Parks Expert Favorite
ParksExpert Rating 5.0 out of 5 Recommended for:
Scenic Drives

Acadia National Park

Visitor Information

Telephone Number: 207-288-3338
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.