Acadia’s Carriage Roads and the Jordan Pond House

My two favorite memories from our first visit to Acadia (a generation ago), are walking the Carriage Roads, and munching popovers at the Jordan Pond House. We got to revisit both on Thursday.

The Carriage Road system is 45 miles of motor-free roadways covering much of Acadia’s internal acreage. Constructed by John D. Rockefeller between 1913 and 1940, the roads are designed to blend with the landscape, following natural contours to capture scenic vistas. The roads are ~ 16 feet wide, and were built to accommodate horse drawn carriages, with enough room for horseback riders to pass. Today, the roads are used by walkers, runners, cyclists and cross country skiers in the wintertime. Bridges and roadway barriers are made from native rock and the stonework is stunning. I really like the “then-and now” imagery of this photo collage (snatched from the National Park Service page) featuring one of those gorgeous arched bridges.

We wanted to spend a day biking one of the Carriage Road circuits, and had reserved bikes from Acadia Bike several weeks before. (It was high season, after all.) The rental folks were friendly and helpful and the bikes were…shall we say, much loved.

My bike mostly fit, but had a pretty rudimentary gearing system compared to what I’m used to riding. Suffice it to say that the pedals required quite a bit of people power to propel the wheels. The carriage roads have a lot of mostly gradual ups and downs, but – fortunately – enough of my youthful cycling thighs remain so I didn’t have any trouble cycling the route.

We exited Bar Harbor along Duck Brook Road to connect with the Carriage Road system just above Eagle Lake, then cycled south down the east side of the lake.

We stopped for lunch at the Jordan Pond House. In 1847, a logging family from nearby Seal Harbor, the Jordans, built a farmhouse and mill at the tip of the pond that was later named after them. As the area became popular for recreation in the late 19th century, the farmhouse was turned into a small restaurant. The first tea and popovers – Jordan House’s claim to fame – were served in 1895.

John D. Rockefeller purchased the restaurant and property in 1928 and donated both to the Park. When the original operators retired in 1946, Rockefeller set up a company to operate the restaurant, ensuring that the popover tradition would continue. The original building burned down in 1979, and the restaurant re-opened in 1982. Funding for the current building was provided through a fundraising campaign by the local, non-profit Island Foundation.

This was our second visit to Jordan Pond House on this trip. We had a popover lunch at the restaurant on our hop-on, hop-off bus trip the day we walked the Ocean Path. On our Carriage Road visit, we grabbed sandwiches from the upstairs carry-out cafe. Pictures below are from both visits – glowery skies are from our cycling day.

After lunch, we headed north, cycling back along the west side of Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake.

Past Eagle Lake, we cycled around Witch Hole Pond, a ~ 3 mile loop north of Bar Harbor, before joining Duck Brook Road for the ride back into town.

We enjoyed an excellent and well-earned dinner that night at Mama DiMatteo’s.


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4 thoughts on “Acadia’s Carriage Roads and the Jordan Pond House”

  1. What a fun bike ride, Sis! I would love that. And its nice to know that some historic areas haven’t changed much. (I don’t think I’d seen these photos before, so….yay!)

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