Acadia National Park’s small size—encompassing mountains, ponds, seaside cliffs, and salt- and freshwater beaches—together with its 158- miles of trails and 45-mile carriage road systems, make it among the most accessible parks in the country.
Visitors and residents flock to the trails and carriage roads in every season and there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.
From hiking, biking, walking, and horse-backing riding in the summer to winter hiking, ice-climbing, and cross-country skiing in the winter, these matchless road and trails provide non-motorized access to the rocky mountaintops, peaceful woodlands, and pristine shorelines of Acadia’s interior.
The following will help you safely explore Acadia in any season. However, we encourage visitors to the park to start with the Acadia National Park official website for more information on exploring Acadia’s trails and carriage roads.
Activities on Acadia’s Trails & Carriage Roads
Here are a few important things to know when exploring Acadia’s trails and historic carriage roads:
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Acadia and the opportunities are endless. Hikers can choose from casual walks along the rocky coastlines, to hiking forests and along mountain streams, to climbing ridges and exposed mountaintops—sometimes in one hike.
Don’t be fooled by the height of the Acadia’s mountains, there are many challenging hikes from sea level to summits. If a stroll along the coast or around a lake is more your pace, there are easier options. Check with a park ranger at one of the Visitor Centers for maps and advice on the best trails to match your skill level and interests. When hiking please stay on the trail as marked by blue blazes and bates cairns and leave no trace.
Horseback riding: Most of carriage roads are available for horseback travel either on a carriage ride with Wildwood Stables or on a horse of your own. The park’s website provides more information and a Carriage Road User’s Map to better identify the trails, routes, and roads where horses are permitted.
Biking: Acadia provides many different opportunities for bicycling on carriage roads, bike paths, gravel roads, and paved roads. Bicycling is not permitted on hiking trails or on privately owned carriage roads. Cyclists share the carriage roads with horses and pedestrians. Class 1 E-bikes are permitted on carriage roads. Class 2 and 3 are not allowed. During winter, the carriage roads are groomed for skiing, bicycles are not permitted.
Rules of the carriage roads: The carriage roads today have multiple-user groups as they did in the past. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and horse-drawn carriages share in the beauty, access, and safety of these auto-free roads across the park. Everyone yields to horses and bicyclists yield to everyone.
Winter recreation in Acadia: Acadia’s trails and carriage roads are beautiful places to explore in winter if you are prepared and equipped. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is some of the best in the country! However, trails can become icy, and snow packed in winter. Hiking trails that are steep and challenging in summer are ill-advised in fall and winter. Ice grippers, cleats, and traction footwear can have little effect on slick, underlying granite surfaces. Trekking poles are highly encouraged.
Through the Acadia Trails Forever endowment, Friends of Acadia has helped Acadia National Park make additional trails to help make additional trails wheelchair accessible/ADA-compliant, including the boardwalk on the Jesup Path at Sieur de Monts and parts of the Ship Harbor and Jordan Pond trails. Acadia’s 45-mile carriage road system offers an unmatched way to experience Acadia’s peaceful interior by wheelchair. Motorized wheelchairs are allowed on the carriage roads, and their smooth surface is also appropriate for visitors with visual disabilities. Visitors with disabilities may also enjoy the carriage roads via horse-drawn carriage rides. For more information on carriage rides visit Carriages of Acadia