Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The bike trails are smooth, surfaced with gravel and about 16 feet wide. Altogether, they total 8.3 miles. The biggest hills are on the northwest side of the network. You can also bike the park’s 6-mile, one-way loop road, which is paved and open to motor vehicles.
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 1 and Route 186 in Gouldsboro, turn onto Route 186 and drive south toward Winter Harbor. Drive 6.5 miles, then take a sharp left to stay on Route 186. Drive another 0.5 mile, then turn right onto Schoodic Loop Road at the sign for Acadia National Park. Drive a little less than a mile, then turn left at the sign for Schoodic Woods Campground. Keep to the right to park in the day use parking area.
From the day use parking area, walk east to the visitor center. The bike trails begin just south of that building, near a kiosk that displays a trail map.
Information: More than 8 miles of wide, gravel bike paths travel through the beautiful forest of Schoodic Peninsula in Winter Harbor, the mainland portion of Acadia National Park. Threading through pines and over hills, these intersecting trails connect to the park’s scenic one-way road, which bicyclists can follow along the shore to several rocky beaches and overlooks.
This mainland portion of Acadia also features Schoodic Woods Campground, 8.2 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas and the Schoodic Education and Research Center.
The bike trails on the peninsula are also open to walkers, runners and, when winter conditions are right, skiers and snowshoers. Intersections are numbered and marked with large, wooden signs. On the post of each sign is a trail map with a star that indicates where you are in the network. Nevertheless, I suggest carrying a map so you can trace your route as you go.
Starting at Schoodic Woods Campground, if you travel north on the bike trails, you’ll soon come to a number of sizeable hills. In a few places, signs warn bicyclists of steep grades and sharp curves. In the southern portion of the network, the hills are notably smaller.
Some of the trails together form a loop, while others branch off to connect over to the 6-mile Schoodic Loop Road. Much of this paved road is one way, so be sure to plan your route accordingly if you plan to ride on it. Bicyclists are expected to follow the direction of traffic.
Traveling along the edge of the ocean, Schoodic Loop Road features several turnouts and overlooks. Some highlights are a grassy picnic spot, dock and overlook at Frazer Point; windswept, rock ledges at Schoodic Point; and the tidal pools and cobblestones at Blueberry Hill overlook.
All visitors to Acadia are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May through October. These fees vary in cost, with most visitors purchasing a vehicle pass for $30 that is good for seven days. However, if you visit the park often, you may as well purchase an annual pass for $55. The park is open all winter, though some facilities within the park are closed. The main parking area is plowed.
Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Visitors are asked to clean up after themselves and their pets and follow park regulations, which are available at nps.gov/acad. For more information, call 207-288-3338.
Personal note: People often ask me how I select the location for each week’s adventure, and my answer is: “It’s complicated.” Take this week, for example. My decision to bike the Schoodic Peninsula trails was partially based on my desire to visit the ocean and search for barnacles (vacant of creatures) that I plan to glue to my face. Why, you ask? Well, I’m big on Halloween, and this year, I’m dressing up as Poseidon, god of the sea. I’ve already carved a trident out of foam and hand-stitched a fish costume for my dog Oreo.
As it turns out, empty barnacle shells do not make for good face ornaments. They’re far too fragile to harvest. After a few crumbled between my fingers, I decided to sculpt them out of clay instead. (Yes, I’m aware I sound a bit obsessive about my costumes at this point.)
Interesting fact: while it’s against the rules to take rocks from Acadia National Park beaches, it’s OK to take a few unoccupied shells, according to the Superintendent’s Compendium.
I also chose to visit Schoodic Peninsula because I wanted to enjoy fall foliage for just a little bit longer, and I knew my husband Derek couldn’t pass up a chance to ride his bike.
The weather was sunny and mild on Oct. 19, as we explored as many of the trails as possible. Bright yellow-orange leaves clung to maple and oak trees, ready to fall at any moment. The small leaves of low-bush blueberries were bright red. And a steady breeze whipped up waves along the shore.
While I didn’t search in earnest for wildlife, we found it, nonetheless. As we explored the ledges of Schoodic Point, I spotted a group of eider ducks and a double-crested cormorant (another water bird) swimming offshore. And as we pedaled back to the parking area, a spruce grouse (a fairly uncommon chicken-like woodland bird) flew from the trail to a nearby tamarack tree, where it sat and watched us pass.
For more of Aislinn Sarnacki’s adventures, visit bangordailynews.com/act-out. Follow Aislinn Sarnacki on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.