Mount Deserted Island
Rockefeller's bridle paths, now called the carriage paths, are a worthy introduction to the splendor of Acadia's thick forest. I rented a bike in Bar Harbor at Acadia Bike and Canoe (tel. 207.288.9605) after first finding out the conditions of these paths from Betty Lyle. In the off-season, you quickly learn that the park ranger is your best friend. At any one time in spring, more than one-third of the trails are closed due to snow covering or small waterfalls created by winter's thaw. For a weekend jaunt, it's always best to check with the Visitor Center before venturing out on an impassable trail or road and, thus, wasting valuable time.
Fortunately, the carriage paths were open. These finely packed gravel roads, off-limits to motorized vehicles, form a web of trails that crisscross the entire eastern half of Mount Desert Island. I started at the northern end of the Visitor Center parking lot, where there's a small bicycle sign. After an unrelenting uphill climb, the trail leveled off as I sped past placid Witch Hole Pond to an arched stone bridge high above roaring Duck Brook. Soon, the call of laughing loons welcomed me to the shores of Eagle LakeAcadia's second largest body of water. I circled around the lake under a forest of spruce, steadily climbing, only to coast downhill when Cadillac Mountain dramatically came into view.
To get to the pinnacle of this 1,532-foot mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast north of Brazil, I exchanged two wheels for four and drove around the 27-mile Park Loop. A congested roadway in the summer, I saw only two other cars this day. Along the way, I stopped at the base of Champlain Mountain to look up at a ridge where a pair of peregrine falcons hovered above their nest, and at Thunder Hole, where water forcefully spews in and out of a small cave. When I finally reached the summit of Cadillac, the sun was beginning its daily descent. Yet, it was still light enough to look out across the Atlantic. In the distance, hundreds of green islands formed an emerald necklace in expansive Frenchman Bay. Closer to shore, fluorescent yellow and orange lobster buoys bobbed near the town of Bar Harbor.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication