On Friday October 29, the Eagle Lake Loop of Acadia National Park’s carriage roads will be reopened following an extensive rehabilitation to the entire six miles of road. The completion of this project also marks the full rehabilitation of all 45-miles of the carriage road network in Acadia.
Maintaining the extensive carriage road system for equestrians, bicyclists, runners, and walkers involves collaborative resourcefulness to ensure a state-of-the-art recreational experience. Between 1991 and 1995, an extensive rehabilitation of the carriage roads was financed by federal construction funds along with matching private funds from Friends of Acadia.
“Acadia contains the best and most extensive example of a historic carriage road system in the United States,” said Superintendent Schneider. “The carriage roads are in outstanding condition for visitors to enjoy thanks to Friends of Acadia and generous private philanthropy.”
“The carriage roads are a beloved resource for Acadia’s visitors,” said Friends of Acadia President David MacDonald. “The initiative to restore and permanently maintain the carriage roads was among the very first projects at Acadia that showed the power of matching federal appropriated funding from Congress with private philanthropic dollars raised locally. It’s also where the purpose and potential of our young—at the time—organization really took hold. Friends of Acadia has granted more than $5 million to the National Park Service for carriage roads over the years, and helps organize thousands of hours of volunteer work to maintain this treasured network.”
Following on the heels of the Eagle Lake reopening, volunteers will gather on Saturday, November 6th, for the 31st annual Take Pride in Acadia Day, an event designed to prepare the carriage roads for overwintering. Due to COVID-19, participation in the event was reduced by half and restricted to teams of volunteers who pre-registered and were comfortable working together in an outdoor setting. Groups will meet in dispersed locations throughout the park to clear leaves and debris from carriage road ditches and culverts. This effort helps reduce erosion of the road surfaces over the winter and spring. Registration is at capacity for the event, but Friends of Acadia and the park hope to return to a full event in 2022.
In addition to philanthropic support, the work to restore the Eagle Lake Loop was funded in part by National Park Service line-item construction appropriations. The work included rehabilitation of the six miles of carriage road surface, subgrade, and associated drainage features. The work also included reconstruction of masonry retaining walls and stabilization of stone slope protection walls. These carriage roads will still need seasonal and annual maintenance, as well as maintenance associated with potential storm damage.
BELOW: Acadia National Park Chief of Maintenance, Keith Johnston, unlocks and opens the carriage road gate on the east side of Eagle Lake. The Eagle Lake Loop was the last section of carriage road rehabilitated by the National Park Service, completing a multi-year rehabilitation project. (Video by Julia Walker Thomas/Friends of Acadia)