Details

  • DesignationAll-American Road (2002/2009)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesRecreation, Scenic
  • LocationME
  • Length40 miles
Byway Visitor Information
National Park Service
Statewide Byway Partners
Maine Department of Transportation
Maine Byways Map - Download
The scene from Trenton over the tidal Mount Desert Narrows of the Mount Desert Island shoreline and the Mountains of Acadia National Park exemplifies the tree-robed landscape.
Edwin Chase Photo

Overview

From craggy shorelines and granite-capped mountains to crystal lakes and spruce–fir forests, Acadia Byway is perfect for exploring. Extensive carriage roads and hiking trails give access to Acadia National Park. See fishing and sailboats in Frenchman's Bay or go back in time to see the "cottages" of old Bar Harbor.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

Long before the French explorer Samuel Champlain "discovered'' L'Isles des Monts Deserts (Mount Desert Island) and the British and French fought nearly 100 years for sovereignty over the region, Native cultures made this beautiful island their home. In the first half of the 20th century, a number of wealthy families built sprawling shingle-style cottages with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., contributing a vast network of carriage roads. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park are the most frequently visited locations in Maine. Travelers can bike to their heart's content on miles of interconnected carriage roads - and hike one of 26 mountains. Plus, 22 lakes and ponds, beaches and natural wonders provide plenty of relaxation.

The byway first follows Route 3 from Trenton to Bar Harbor. While in Trenton, visitors looking for a night of music and dance should be sure to visit the Trenton Grange on the third Saturday of the month for Trenton’s Contra Dance. Food and beverages are provided for all, and the event is great for families with no experience required. Continuing along route 3, visitors will cross Thompson Island, named for the Revolutionary War colonel who owned the island in the late 1700s. At the visitors center, visitors will find helpful rangers and staff and a wealth of park information, park passes, maps, and books. Visitors should be sure to enjoy the interpretive display panels and the Thompson Island Picnic Area, where picnickers can enjoy a wonderful view across the water of Mount Desert Narrows at the head of Frenchman Bay to mainland Trenton and views of Thomas Island, the largest of the three-island archipelago.

The route then continues into Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is a charming New England town, and it is the largest town on Mount Desert Island. Visitors will enjoy exploring the picturesque downtown, vibrant art scene, and the great outdoors. Throughout the year, there are many cultural events and tours available downtown for visitors to explore. Visitors should also be sure to take advantage of the many opportunities for water recreation during the summer. They can learn how to paddle board, travel on a windjammer cruise, or go kayaking to get closer to the many seals, porpoises, bald eagles, and other extraordinary wildlife in the Bar Harbor area. Bar Harbor is known for its fresh seafood--caught, delivered,cooked and served straight from the boat. Visitors should be sure to check out some of Bar Harbor’s local restaurants for endless sea-to-table options.

The byway then loops into Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park falls in the top ten list of most visited parks in the United States, welcoming more than three million travelers every year. Visitors can take a step back in time by taking a carriage ride through the park. The well-marked roads wander through Acadia National Park, covering long, shady stretches of woodland, skirting peaceful lakes and ponds, circling mountain elevations, and showcasing breathtaking views of the Atlantic and nearby islands. Visitors will be able to explore the many trails, which offer opportunities to everyone from casual walkers to seasoned triathletes.

Driving Directions

From Trenton, Maine, following Route 3, this byway follows Route 3 into Bar Harbor, then follows the park loop road thereafter. Visitors looking to avoid seasonal traffic can enjoy the Acadia Byway aboard the free Island Explorer bus network that also connects the park with inns, campgrounds and the island's village centers.

Points of Interest

  • Cadillac Mountain

    Located on Mount Desert Island within Acadia National Park, known for being the first place the sun rises on US soil each day.

  • Jordan Pond House

    Restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining within Acadia National Park.

  • Thunder Hole

    Experience the sound of thunder magic at this scenic spot along the byway, the park loop road, within Acadia National Park.

Itinerary

  • A Day in Acadia National Park

    Begin in Trenton, a cozy coastal Maine town, and follow Route 3 into Bar Harbor. As you cross Thompson Island, visit the visitors center to find helpful rangers who can help you on our way as well as park passes, maps, and books. Stop to enjoy the beautiful view of the Mount Desert Narrows at the head of Frenchman Bay and Thomas Island, the largest island in this small archipelago.

    Continue to follow Route 3 into Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is a charming New England town, and it is the largest town on Mount Desert Island. Explore the picturesque downtown, vibrant art scene, and the great outdoors.Try some local Maine favorites like lobster rolls and saltwater taffy! Bar Harbor is known for its fresh seafood--caught, delivered,cooked and served straight from the boat. This town is home to many cultural events, and there are also many opportunities for outdoor recreation, making it the perfect mid-point stop for every family.

    The byway then loops into Acadia National Park. Either drive your car or step back in time to take a carriage ride through the park. The well-marked roads wander through Acadia National Park, covering long, shady stretches of woodland, skirting peaceful lakes and ponds, circling mountain elevations, and showcasing breathtaking views of the Atlantic and nearby islands. Explore the many trails, which offer opportunities to everyone from casual walkers to seasoned triathletes.

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