Posts tagged ‘Witch Hole Pond’

June 20, 2011

Which Carriage Roads Are Best for Biking with Kids in Maine’s Acadia National Park?

The carriage roads of Acadia National Park offer families unsurpassed biking.  They are car-free and well-maintained, with hills only as challenging as a horse drawing a carriage could handle, which is, of course, the purpose for which John D. Rockefeller, Jr. originally designed them.  Best of all is the scenery.

But, with 45 miles of carriage roads open for biking, what is the best route for kids?  And, during the height of the summer season, are some trails better than others?

These are the questions I had in mind when I chatted recently with the park ranger at Hulls Cove Visitors Center.  Located on Route 3 north of Bar Harbor, it’s a great starting point for a visit to Acadia National Park.  The large three-dimensional map of the park is  a reason unto itself to go.

The route recommended by the park ranger at Hulls Cove Visitor Center was the circuit around Witch Hole Pond.  That’s also where the Obamas decided to cycle when they visited Acadia National Park!  So, we tried it out for you…

It’s a 3.3 mile circuit that passes by Halfmoon Pond, Witch Hole Pond, and Duck Brook, which you can hear as you cycle above it.  It’s an easy ride that’s pretty flat except for a .2 mile stretch that’s a moderate climb.  The terrain features not only these large beautiful ponds, but also a lot of marshlands.  These offer good opportunities to see beaver lodges, such as the one below, or to spot a snapping turtle crossing the road.

Why it’s called Witch Hole Pond I do not know.  However, throughout the wetlands of this area stand dead trees, known in forest ecology as snags.  They provide critical habitat for many species, including birds that feed on the insects decomposing the wood.  Young minds may find them eerie, so organize a game for your kids to invent origins for the name Witch Hole Pond as they ride…

Another positive feature of cycling Witch Hole Pond is that this route can be easily extended to Eagle Lake, one of the most beautiful rides in the park.  Unfortunately, everyone knows it, so parking may be difficult at times.  If you combine Witch Hole Pond and Eagle Lake, you can avoid that frustration.  Connecting the two is a 1.1 mile stretch past Breakneck Pond.  I like biking south along the eastern shore of Eagle Lake first.  There’s a steady climb up to Conners Nubble, but, regardless of direction, the Eagle Lake circuit is not free of challenges.  That extension will add 6.9 miles to the 3.3 of Witch Hole Pond.

Here’s another tip from the park ranger at Hulls Cove.  Don’t start your bike trip from the Hulls Cove parking lot. There’s a challenging climb right as you start, which may discourage the kids before they even get going.  Instead, enter the carriage road at Signpost 5 at Duck Brook Bridge.  There is parking along the road.  You can get there by taking Duck  Brook Road north from Eagle Lake Road (Route 233) north.  Seeing the Duck Brook Bridge and New Mills Meadow Pond are bonuses.

After a great bike ride like this, where do you go to relax?  Are you in the mood for BBQ ribs, lobster rolls, or a three-course dinner?  For tips on the best places to eat, visit OUR ACADIA.

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August 23, 2009

Best Biking in Bar Harbor: Tips for Managing Labor Day Crowds

The author near Aunty Betty Pond

The author near Aunty Betty Pond

No matter how hard I try, it seems I can never get out of the house as early as I want on vacation.  And what that means in Acadia National Park at the height of the summer season is that the parking lots near the most popular biking spots may be full. 

With the bikes on the racks and the kids all ready to go, you’re stuck with a big…now what? 

Here’s a solution you might want to consider.  

One of the favorite bike routes in Acadia is around Eagle Lake.  The carriage road encircles this beautiful lake for close to six miles, passing by its shoreline and through its surrounding forests.  However, the parking lots at the south shore near Bubble Pond and at the north on Route 233 fill early. 

An alternative is to park at the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center on Route 3.  This is a huge lot that facilitates visitors to its information center.  At the parking lot’s far side is an entrance to the carriage road to Witch Hole Pond.  

You can start your ride here –don’t get discouraged by the very steep, but short hill up to the carriage road.  In 2.9 miles you’ll be at the northern entrance to Eagle Lake.  En route you’ll enjoy views of both Witch Hole Pond and Breakneck Ponds. 

For more mileage, you can detour to Aunt Betty Pond.  This will add a challenging, but fulfilling stretch over Seven Bridges.  You can then connect with the carriage road around Eagle Lake at the southern end of the lake. 

A beautiful place to stop and view the lake is at the northern end. 

You can return as you came along Witch Hole Pond or make another loop near Duck Brook Road to get back to the Visitor Center parking lot. 

Starting at Hull’s Cove gives you lots of alternatives for your bike ride and helps avoid the risk of crowded parking lots. 

For more information on what to do when you visit Acadia National Park, visit OUR ACADIA.  From reviews of Bar Harbor restaurants to tips about rock-climbing and kayaking guides, it will provide you with information and a point-of-view on how to make the most out of your Maine vacation.