Scenic Stridings – Mount Desert Island & Acadia National Park – Maine

(From the March/April 2016 edition of NER – all photos by Ben Kimball)

Wide, peaceful paths winding through a national park.

Curvy paved roads along rocky shores.

Trails over mountain ridges with ocean views. Races ranging from 5Ks to marathons and beyond.

Mount Desert Island (MDI), the largest island off the coast of Maine, is really a runner’s paradise. This is especially true in spring and fall, when it’s not quite as crowded with visitors to Acadia National Park.

But even in summer, you can still find little-travelled back roads and remote trails that are extremely rewarding
to run on. Some even have secluded swim spots to cool off at along the way (Long Pond Trail, hint, hint). (Photo right : An iconic landmark along the route of the MDI Marathon—“The Tree” on Somes Sound.)

The park’s 45-mile network of car-free carriage roads are a standout highlight. Its soft, crushed-stone surface feels forgiving to feet and legs, and climbing grades are always gentle (though a section called Seven Bridges
will test the lungs).

The carriage roads can be combined in endless ways for runs of any length. Suggested routes include the hilly 4-mile loop above Upper Hadlock Pond, the 6-mile loop around Eagle Lake (save some energy
for the big hill), and the 12-mile Around Mountain loop, which includes many vista rich segments, especially along Jordan Pond and high on the northern side of Sargent Mountain.

Other notable carriage road sections visit Bubble Pond, Witch Hole Pond, Little Long Pond, Day Mtn., and a forested valley called The Amphitheater.

(Photo above: Vaulting seawater at Hunter’s Beach.) (Photo right: The Waterfall Bridge above Hadlock Brook along the Upper Hadlock carriage trail loop.

Additionally, over 120 miles of hiking trails cover the island, both within and adjacent to the park. Some of the east-west oriented trails are very steep, but most others are quite accommodating, and the north-south
trending ridgelines offer some of the most scenic trail running options anywhere.

Descending the 3-mile Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail is a special treat for runners rugged enough to have first climbed up to the summit.

Outside the park, several towns and villages offer great food and places to stay. For more information about Acadia and its trails,
visit here

—Ben Kimball

(Photo right: The Around Mountain carriage trail in Acadia National Park.)

For great running site ideas at the other end of New England, check out the author’s new guidebook,
“Trail Running Western Massachusetts” On Amazon


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