ORONO – A College Town
Orono has one of youngest populations in Maine with a median resident age of just under 22 years! As the home of the flagship campus of the University of Maine, Orono derives some of its energy from students when classes are in session, but the town maintains its own young, vibrant, and healthy culture throughout the year. The town contains approximately 1200 acres of bicycle and pedestrian trails maintained by the Orono Land Trust, a year-round Saturday farmer’s market, a swimming pool, playgrounds, parks, public gardens, and a busy modern public library. The downtown boasts a wide variety of shopping and dining options and easy access to the museums, planetariums, and recreational opportunities on the University of Maine campus.
Orono was founded in 1774 at the confluence of the Stillwater and Penobscot Rivers. It was incorporated in 1806 and named after Chief Joseph Orono of the Penobscot Nation (now headquartered on nearby Indian Island). The University of Maine was founded in 1862 with 12 students and 2 faculty members. The original campus core, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead still exists today. The University of Maine is the largest research university in the State with over 11,000 students and 720 faculty members, and Orono is a vital part of the students’ college life.
Historically, Orono was known for its numerous lumber and gristmills taking advantage of the ample power provided by the two rivers. The lumber and cash that flowed through the Penobscot and Stillwater lumber mills during her frontier times built many of the 19th century homes that line Main Street today. Orono is one of Maine’s iconic destinations boasting a vibrant downtown and Maine’s biggest university, separated by the spectacular waters of the Penobscot River.
(All rides start at Rose Bike Shop, 9 Pine Street, Orono ME)
- 14 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
- 30 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
Websites of Interest
Day 1 Route Description
Orono to Dover-Foxcroft, “You Can Get There From Here” – The ride starts through the University of Maine campus and then traverses Maine’s first official bicycle trail, connecting Orono to Old Town. After passing along the Penobscot River it heads west on the flattest terrain of the entire ride. Grab lunch in Milo, the “town of three rivers.” As you approach the highlands, short hills come in waves and the views open north toward Katahdin. Then it’s on to Dover-Foxcroft via Brownville and Sebec over a series of hills. The final ten miles gently flow along the Piscataquis River.
DOVER FOXCROFT – A Mill Town
Welcome to beautiful Piscataquis County and Dover-Foxcroft, located in the heart of Central Maine. Dover-Foxcroft started its history as two distinct towns, Dover and Foxcroft. The two were separated by the Piscataquis River, providing power to Dover’s mills, on the south side of the river and Foxcroft’s mills, on the north. On March 1, 1922 the two towns married and formed Dover-Foxcroft. The town now has a total area of 71.2 square miles and a population of 4,013.
Being the county seat, Dover-Foxcroft is referred to as the “Shiretown” of Piscataquis County. Dover-Foxcroft is well located within the county; close to Baxter State Park, just a few miles away from the Appalachian Trail, and a stone’s throw to beautiful Peaks Kenny State Park and Sebec Lake. The town itself has many wonderful recreational amenities, including surrounding trails that are used for walking and hiking during the summer. It also promotes walking routes in its downtown area and has recently established two river-walks connected by historic Lincoln Street. There are plenty of camping, swimming and fishing amenities, along with some unique shops and restaurants.
Dover-Foxcroft is home of the very popular Whoopie Pie festival, so bring your sweet tooth and enjoy every flavor of whoopie pie you can imagine, from cheesecake to root beer. Dover-Foxcroft offers cultural diversity as it is home to Foxcroft Academy, which serves as high school to both the local community and to the Academy’s international student population of nearly 100.
During your time in Dover-Foxcroft you will discover all the amenities, character, personality, and the great people that make this traditional mill town truly special.
- Dover-Foxcroft Bike Routes (Provided from Explore Maine by Bike, complete listing of 33 Maine routes available: www.exploremaine.org/bike)
- 10 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF. (This ride starts from Dover-Foxcroft Academy, 975 W Main St, Dover-Foxcroft)
Websites of Interest
- Freedom House Bed & Breakfast
- Bears Den Motel, Restaurant & Tavern
- Nelson’s Guest Rooms
- Peaks Kenney Motor Lodge
- Covered Bridge Motel
Day 2 Route Description
Dover-Foxcroft to Belfast – “From Mountain to Sea … Eventually”
The route starts by heading south through the heart of interior central Maine. Mostly small hills characterize today’s route, with periodic interruption by several significant climbs – and descents. You’ll be passing through communities like Garland, Stetson and North Dixmont on your way to Belfast.
BELFAST – A Coastal Town
Named one of the coolest small towns in America by USA Today, Belfast sits on a hill overlooking the breathtaking tidal waters of Penobscot Bay. Settled in 1765, Belfast’s past and present speak of its creativity, innovation, tradition, community, and independence. It is the economic hub and county seat of Waldo County with a dynamic working waterfront, an historic and architecturally rich downtown (including the country’s oldest shoe store), and more art galleries than any city its size in the state. Within minutes of leaving Rte. 1, you enter a landscape that melds the natural world of woods and waters with a vibrant rhythm of art and commerce.
See & Do Sampler: Museum in the Streets, a self-guided walking tour through downtown Belfast, is a great way to introduce yourself to this city of many stories. As you walk the town you’ll note the public art installment of over 30 creative benches called “Please, Be Seated.” Year-round, you can explore more than 19 galleries within walking distance of the docks, see the finest sea captains’ mansions in America, find unique gifts at the many shops and boutiques, and dine on the best vegetarian food, seafood, gourmet food, or even just a great burger and fries — all on foot! Belfast’s many parks and green spaces are perfect places to enjoy the picturesque waterfront, the bustle of the downtown, or even a quick dip in “The Passy,” or Passagassawakeag, river.
Not sure what to do first? Belfast’s Main Street organization asked their online following what their idea of the number one iconic “Belfast thing” would be. Top contenders included a meal at Chase’s Daily or Rollie’s Bar and Grill, a trip to the historic Belfast Co-op for a bite or some groceries, a show at the downtown movie palace, sampling some of the locally brewed beers, and a walk across our beautiful memorial footbridge to take in one of the best views on Maine’s midcoast.
- Belfast Rides (Provided from Explore Maine by Bike, complete listing of 33 Maine routes available: www.exploremaine.org/bike)
Websites of Interest
Day 3 Route Description
Belfast to Castine – “Penobscot Bay Pedal Into History”
By the numbers, this is the most challenging portion of the route, with spectacular scenery to balance and boost spirits. The first 23 miles is on U.S. Route One with its wide shoulders and little early morning traffic. First stop is historic Fort Knox on the Penobscot River and the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory (tallest public bridge observatory in the world at 420 ft. and a must see). The route leaves Route One to explore one of Maine’s best-kept secrets – the Blue Hill Peninsula. The sea level and elevated coastal views on the second half of this day’s route will take your breath away. As you arrive in Castine, you are treated to views of Penobscot Bay.
CASTINE – A Historic Town
If you like history, you will fall in love with Castine, a classic New England coastal village at the tip of a peninsula reaching into Penobscot Bay at the mouth of the Penobscot River. The peninsula was fought over for more than 200 years (early 1600s through 1815) by the French, British and Dutch, and was the site of the Revolutionary War’s Penobscot Expedition of 1779, often called the worst American naval disaster prior to Pearl Harbor.
Castine, on the National Register of Historic Places, has two distinct geographical areas. “The Village”, now home to Maine Maritime Academy, is peppered with historic markers, ruins of forts, a vibrant waterfront, Dyce Head Light and the 185-acre Witherle Woods preserve – along with a well-preserved collection of beautiful Georgian and Federal architecture lining the grid of streets. “Off-Neck” is a mostly rural area with late 18th and 19th century homes nestled among farmhouses, rusticator “cottages” and more modern architectural contributions.
Castine offers a wide variety of recreational activities, exceptional dining and elegant lodging. It is truly a remarkable, charming and beautifully preserved historic coastal community.
(The following rides starts from the Castine Town dock, located at the end of Main Street)
- 17 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
- 43 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
(The 34 Mile Loop out of Blue Hill, starts in the center of town at the junction of routes: 172 and 15)
Websites of Interest
Day 4 Route Description
Castine to Bar Harbor – “Roll with the Rusticators”
As you depart from historic Castine and cut east across the Blue Hill Peninsula — new roads and vistas, and the same rolling terrain that forms the granite backbone of this area. The route skirts downtown Ellsworth and follows the Union River and Bay before cutting over to Trenton and onto Mt. Desert Island. On MDI, the route joins some less traveled roads before joining a portion of the Park Loop Road where there is a final climb with great views of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor before descending into town.
BAR HARBOR – A Summer Colony
From the stonewall-lined and tree-covered road leading you into our village, to the sweeping vistas from atop Cadillac Mountain, to the surrounding crystal blue ocean, there is a special mystique to Bar Harbor. Nestled on the east side of Mt. Desert Island, adjacent to Acadia National Park, this famous summer colony has welcomed visitors for well over a hundred years. Bar Harbor is filled with summer “cottages” — beautifully ornate and breathtaking homes built by some of our nation’s most prominent families (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, Astor) to serve as their summer homes. Most of these homes were built during the “Gilded Age” of 1880-1920 and most still stand today.
From whale watching, sea-kayaking and sunset sails, Bar Harbor offers a variety of activities and events. With music, art and food festivals and community holiday events, there is always something going on in Bar Harbor, with many such activities set on the village green or park overlooking the Bay. Here you can also learn about Bar Harbor’s history, the island’s Native American heritage, the Gulf of Maine’s unique ecosystems and species, our town’s award winning microbrews, and the natural wonder of Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor shopping is another popular offering, providing all varieties of clothing, arts, food, accessories, and crafts in the walkable downtown core.
Without a doubt, however, the main attraction on Mt. Desert Island is Acadia National Park. The first national park east of the Mississippi, Acadia offers 120 miles of hiking trails, 50 miles of carriage roads (click here for a map), ocean and lake swimming, the 27-mile paved scenic Park Loop Road, a winding road up Cadillac Mountain where one can see the first glimpse of the morning sunrise, and more.
Consider visiting Cadillac Mountain to catch the sunrise while you are in Bar Harbor. Consider while visiting Bar Harbor to hop on a mountain bike (local rentals are available) to ride the remarkable Carriage Trails (click here for a map) of Acadia National Park; travel by boat with your own bike to Schoodic Point and ride along this northern section of Acadia National Park; or stay on Mount Desert Island and ride the beautiful Park Loop Road with a stop at Jordan Pond for lunch. So many great ride options … or stay off your bike completely, shop in Bar Harbor, hike the many trails in Acadia, sea kayak or whale watch.
- Schoodic Peninsula Rides (Provided from Explore Maine by Bike, complete listing of 33 Maine routes available: www.exploremaine.org/bike)
(The following rides start from the Bar Harbor YMCA, 21 Park Street, Bar Harbor Maine)
- 13 Mile Route (Cadillac Climb) – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
- 20 Mile Route (Acadia National Park Loop) – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
- 36 Mile Route – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
- 55 Mile Route – Click here to view online. Click here to download a PDF.
Websites of Interest
Day 6 Route Description
Bar Harbor to Bangor YMCA’s Camp Jordan (Ellsworth, ME) – “Camp Night”
This is a reasonably flat portion (for Maine) traveling off Mount Desert Island on a different and quieter route, then onto busy Route 3 for approximately five miles before returning to rural roads. A short section of riding on U.S. Route One to Sullivan, then heading away from the coast and into lakes country. The final ten miles is on Route 1A and head into Bangor YMCA’s Camp Jordan.
CAMP JORDAN – A Maine Camp
Bangor YMCA’s Camp Jordan is a quintessential Maine camp: nestled in the woods at the edge of a lake with cabins, a mess-hall, an arts and crafts building, a waterfront, a performance hall, an archery station and ball fields – all the elements that define the classic children’s sleep-away camp. There is even a camp infirmary, a totem pole and amphitheater fire-pit! This 200-acre wooded waterfront property is a beautiful gathering spot with its spectacular 6000-square foot dining hall, generously donated by Maine’s most famous author — Stephen King and his wife; outdoor picnic areas; lakefront for swimming and paddle sports; team building activities including the Ropes Course; hiking trails and so much more!
Camp Jordan began its program in 1908 and was named in the honor of Robert A. Jordan, the first General Secretary of the Bangor YMCA. The camp moved its program to its current site on Branch Lake in 1925 and was built on the farm land of Ephriam Higgins. Over the year’s buildings, programs and land have been added, renovated and upgraded to create this oasis – certain to create nostalgia for those summer camp days of our youth.
(All rides start from Ellsworth Harbor Park & Marina, 333 Water Street, Ellsworth ME)
- 24 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download PDF.
- 51 Mile Loop – Click here to view online. Click here to download PDF.
- Downeast Sunrise Trail
Websites of Interest
Day 7 Route Description
Bangor YMCA’s Camp Jordan (Ellsworth, ME) to Orono – “Giddy-up to Orono”
Of all the miles on this route, this portion will seem like a warm up ride (almost). After leaving Camp Jordan and skirting Ellsworth, the route travels up the west side of picturesque Graham Lake before heading across country on rural roads past places like the Springy Ponds. Cycling a short stretch on Route 9 that is low speed and less hilly than the rest of the Airline (with one notable exception). The route then follows the Penobscot River upstream from Eddington to Old Town for the final spin into Orono.