Editors Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles highlighting the route and host communities of BikeMaine. Local Maine lawyer and cycling enthusiast Fred Frawley has crafted a comprehensive route digest detailing descriptions of sights and attractions along the route that connects the host communities. This combination of community information and route digest will be shared in a series of weekly articles. Remaining host communities will be showcased individually on the website through July and August.
The BikeMaine route will bring us to Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert Island on Wednesday, September 11. We will also have a layover day in this beautiful area on Thursday, September 12, giving everyone lots of time to explore the many spectacular sights and activities available here. From the stonewall-lined and tree-shaded road leading you into the village, to the sweeping vistas from atop Cadillac Mountain, there is a special beauty to Bar Harbor. Nestled on the northeastern shore of Mount Desert Island and surrounded by Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor has welcomed generations of visitors since the mid-1800’s, and now, they are gearing up to welcome you, too! The BikeMaine Village is located in the town park next to the Mount Desert YMCA, at the corner of Main and Park Streets and within easy walking distance of the downtown.
There is such a wide variety of activities and pastimes to choose from, your biggest challenge of the week may be planning how to spend your time in Bar Harbor. Should you visit Acadia National Park, and explore the nearly 200 miles of hiking trails and carriage roads, on foot or by bike? Or should you set out on the ocean, whale-watching, sea-kayaking, or taking a sunset cruise? Perhaps enjoying a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants, or strolling the downtown stores and boutiques is more your style. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to experience the richness that has drawn people to this island for over a century.
With music, art, food and cultural festivals, there is always something going on in Bar Harbor, and always an opportunity to learn more about what makes this island so unique. BikeMaine is offering a few activities during your stay in Bar Harbor, but has left large blocks of open time for personal exploration. BikeMaine will not be providing Wednesday night dinner or either a full breakfast or any lunch on Thursday, so you will have opportunities to check out some of Bar Harbor’s award winning restaurants and food specialty markets.
Here is what is included in your BikeMaine registration fee:
- A one-week pass to Acadia National Park, good from September 11-18, 2013
- A light breakfast in the BikeMaine Village on Thursday, September 12, from 4:45- 7:30
- An early morning bike ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain on Thursday morning, September 12, for those interested in seeing a beautiful sunrise from the highest point anywhere on the eastern seaboard. We plan to get going at 5:00am for this 6-mile ride. It will take approximately 45 minutes to ride from the village to the top of the mountain, climbing over 1,500 feet. Interested riders can sign up at the BikeMaine Information Booth in the BikeMaine Village on Wednesday, September 11th
- Cue sheets for selected bicycle rides around Mount Desert Island and Schoodic Point
- A traditional lobster bake prepared and served by the Mount Desert Island Rotary Club on the evening of Thursday, September 12, at the historical ocean-front Maine Sea Coast Mission, with music provided by Steve Sampson and an after dinner program on the Night Sky.
Along with these activities, there are many other adventures and excursions to consider while planning your layover day in Bar Harbor. Here is just a partial list:
- Explore the town with a self-guided tour highlighting the history of Bar Harbor using the “The Museum in the Streets” map provided by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Bureau. Copies will be provided at the Information Booth;
- Rent either a comfort bike or a mountain bike for a half or whole day to explore the spectacular carriage trails running throughout Acadia National Park. Here’s a great map of the carriage trails. See the grand stone bridges built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Stop for tea and popovers at Jordan Pond House. Spend all or part of a day in the National Park that receives more visitors than any other National Park each year and see why so many come to experience its unique beauty. Please click here to check out the BikeMaine Store where you can reserve a bike at a discounted rate through Bar Harbor Bike Shop.
- Jump on the free island-wide bus service, the Island Explorer, whose routes take you nearly anywhere on Mount Desert Island. Get off at the National Park Visitor’s Center and plan your Park exploration. Tackle one of the many hiking trails located throughout the Park. For more information, go to www.exploreacadia.com;
- Ride your bike around Acadia National Park’s lauded Park Loop Road from one end of the island to the other to see the full breadth and scope of the national park.
- Take a kayak trip around the shores of Bar Harbor.
- Take a ferry boat trip from Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor and explore “the other side of Acadia National Park” – Schoodic Point. One boat will leave at 9:30 and the other will depart at 12:30. Visit downeastwindjammer.com for more information about the Bar Harbor ferry.
- Stroll the downtown stores and boutiques
- Are you a rock climber or have you ever wanted to try rock climbing? Take advantage of this opportunity while in Bar Harbor! There are several options available. Google “Bar Harbor rock climbing” and check out the many vendors who can assist you
- Go whale watching or on another type of ocean cruise. Bar Harbor Whale Watch, barharborwhales.com, offers many different types of whale, nature and educational boat tours.
Bar Harbor is pleased to host our BikeMaine group in September, and hopes that you will take advantage of all that the community has to offer. Please visit the town’s website, barharborinfo.com for more information on this wonderful island. Good luck with your planning!!
Route Digest – Day Six Ride (9/13/13) – Bar Harbor to Camp Jordan by Fred Frawley
We hope you enjoyed your rest day! Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are such treasures with so many exploration opportunities that “rest day” is probably not the right description for Day Five. One thing is for sure, if you cleaned your plate at last night’s lobster bake, you might need to log some miles before feeling hungry again. Well, welcome to Day Six.
Today, we leave Bar Harbor and venture further Down East, before swinging due north and east through a beautiful lakes region.
Rolling north out of Bar Harbor, we pass through Trenton and head toward Ellsworth, but at the intersection with Route 204, turn east toward Lamoine. You’ll remember that this area was initially French territory, and “le moine” (French for “monk”) changed into Lamoine over the years. Lamoine, like many of the towns out on the coast, boasts local boatbuilding craftsmanship. There is also a gravel mine.. Lamoine lays at the northern head of yet another bay that reaches into the Atlantic — Frenchman Bay. Mount Desert Island(the land mass that includes Bar Harbor and the main section of Acadia National Park) lie further south in Frenchman Bay. The bay itself extends 15 miles and reaches seven miles in width.
The spectacular views just keep coming as you head north to Hancock. Here, we meet up with Coastal Route 1, which at one time was the main thoroughfare from Maine to Florida. The Interstate Highway system has changed all that, but up here, Route 1 is the lifeline east and south.
Hancock is the home of Ray Murphy, the world’s first chainsaw artist, who has been carving intricate art from wood since 1952, and “Wilbur,” a 20 foot fiberglass lobster located outside the Tideway Motel near the junction of Rt. 182 and US 1.
Hancock is also the home of the Pierre Monteux School for classical conductors and musicians, attended each summer by world-class musicians. Among alumni are Lorin Maazel, André Previn, Sir Neville Marriner, David Zinman, Erich Kunzel, and Leon Fleisher.
Enjoy the cruise east along the coastal route, because BikeMaine is about to turn inland for the last time. Before that, however, we pull into a spectacular setting for our morning rest stop, at the Schoodic Scenic Byway Turnout. It’s fitting that your last peek at the Atlantic on our route may be among the most spectacular.
After resting and replenishing, we head across an inlet leading to three additional bays, accessed by Bert Gray Road, via West Sullivan and North Sullivan. A significant portion of residents in this area are likely to be involved in the fishing, construction and trucking industry. The local landscape features open field, forests, hills, lakes, and ponds.
East Franklin marks the head of Hog Bay and is your last contact with salt water directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean. Though substantially inland, the extension of Sullivan Harbor leading up to Taunton Bay and Hog Bay gives Franklin a coastal flavor one captured (literally and figuratively) in Kelp Krunch, an energy bar made here in town by Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, Inc.
We will begin to see fresh-water bodies , as we head north on Route 200. Outside Franklin, the route runs between Great Pond and Georges Pond. A few miles further, approaching Eastbrook, the route runs between Webb Pond to the east and Abrams Pond to the West. As for Franklin, let’s let the Town website speak for itself:
Years ago, Franklin was best known for lumbering, ship masts, railroad ties, granite, blueberries and Christmas trees. Today there are more than 75 businesses in town, many of which are home-based and range from electricians, jewelers, photographers, woodcutters, wreath makers, potters, basket makers, tile makers and sculptors.
Rolling north to Eastbrook, keep an eye on ponds throughout the territory. Once in Eastbrook, check out the Greek Revival style Eastbrook Baptist Church and Eastbrook Town House from the mid-19th century.. The church has been used as a town meetinghouse and library as well as a religious structure.
Most importantly, in Eastbrook we pull in for lunch at the Cave Hill School where BikeMaine riders are in for a very special and warm welcome. This 77 student, K-8 school is a part of Regional School Union 24, which serves 2645 students in 12 communities, including several along our route: Ellsworth, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Mariaville, and Sullivan. This is where you can introduce the students to your own home town (you did remember to pack a post card of it, right?).
Leaving Eastbrook, we turn west and head toward Graham Lake. While on the coast, you may remember Union River Bay. Graham Lake was formed in the early 20th century by a dam on the Union River, which in turns leads to the Bay. The original dam was built in 1922 about four miles north of Ellsworth, creating a lake/reservoir encompassing about 13,000 acres.
Our route follows the Western shore of Graham Lake from Waltham in the north, to Fletcher’s Landing, down to Ellsworth Falls, the site of the dam. Fletcher’s Landing, also known as Central Hancock, is an unorganized territory with fewer than 200 residents according to the last census.
Your afternoon rest stop is at Ellsworth Falls, on the Union River and the site of one of the dams that created Graham Lake. Then, lean right and head north on the well-travelled Route 1A toward your stop for today, Camp Jordan, on Branch Lake.
Just before your end point, look to the corner of Winkumpaugh Rd. and Harrison Landing Road and you’ll see the Telephone Museum. Located in “a big gray barn on a country road”, the museum displays show the history of the telephone from the Bell patent to the mid-1980’s. As the museum itself says “Ring us up! Use a hand-crank (magneto) phone and learn how a switchboard operator connects calls. Find out how and why the dial phone was introduced. See and hear the wonderful noise of electro-mechanical telephone switching systems.” Stop on by, as the museum will be open
Camp Jordan is a unique setting for our stop at the end of Day Six. On the shores of Branch Lake, Camp Jordan is owned and operated by the YMCA of Bangor and each summer it hosts overnight campers and others from around Central Maine and beyond. Camp Jordan has provided the summer camp experience for many Maine boys and girls for over 100 years.
The 6000 square foot dining lodge was a gift of Maine’s most famous contemporary writer, Stephen King(and his wife) who live in nearby Bangor. With luck, the lake will be warm enough for a swim. The campers are back in school, so Camp Jordan is a quiet spot to look over your last six days on the road and to look ahead to the final spin back to Orono.