Biking in Maine
Maine is a great big state, ideal for biking given its vastness of 35,385-square miles. Maine has meandering coastal roads and dramatic inland lakes and mountains with extensive trail networks to explore. Whether you prefer mountain biking or road cycling, a scenic bike tour or serious challenge, Maine has biking for every level of cyclist – and the scenery is extraordinary no matter your pace or place.
Maine was awarded the title of 2nd “most bike friendly state in the country” by the League of American Bicyclists in May 2011, Washington state wins this category every year. Back to Maine, there are numerous Maine Bike Clubs, organizations, Bike tour groups and Maine bike trail maps to give you a guide as to where you should ride bikes around Vacationland.
Of course riding along Coastal Routes on road bikes is a beautiful way to see Maine. From Kittery and York up to Ogunquit and Wells, Kennebunkport on up to Portland and beyond, while you will encounter car traffic, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are amazing with plenty of park benches and picnic stops along the way. Be warned, Route 1 is not entirely biker friendly, use caution, and get off the beaten path whenever possible to bike down quieter shores roads that lead down to pretty beaches to beacons - aka lighthouses.
Here’s your biking guide to Maine from the Southern Maine Coast on up North
In Southern Maine, Mt Agamenticus offers a vast network of mountain bike trails up to the top of this highly scenic mountain in York. Its worth the ascent for great views of the Atlantic from 691’ summit, as far as Boone Island Light and Boston on a clear day. Pick up an Agamenticus trail map before exploring as the trail network can be confusing. For road bikes, there is an auto road to the summit, the rest of the trails are suited for mountain bikes given their natural state. You may also encounter hikers and horseback riders on these multi-use trails. Mt A was a ski resort from 1964-74, you can still see evidence of trails and lift towers. Here is a Mount Agamenticus Trail map
In Kennebunkport, The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust offers 10 miles of Bike Trails in the Edwin L Smith Preserve starting from their 1,100 acre preserve Headquarters at Gravelly Brook Road off Goose Rocks Beach Road. These maintained trails are for mountain biking, or walking, through the woods with serene scenery and some fun challenge along the way. Emmons Preserve is another KCT land trust with bike trails. See details on the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust trail systems.
The Kennebunks have great roads for road bikes as well along the seaside and into the more pastoral countryside of West Kennebunk. There is a 21-mile loop through the villages of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk past historic sea captain mansions on Summer Street, and impressive coastal cottage on Ocean Ave, including Walkers Point where President George H W Bush spends his summer with wife Barbara and their presidential family.
A more extensive 34-mile Kennebunkport bike loop takes you out Ocean Avenue, and on to the fishing village of Cape Porpoise, also part of Kennebunkport, to Goose Rocks Beach and beyond to Biddeford Pool.
The Eastern Trail is a wonderful Maine bike ride, and an impressive community connecting trail. The existing Eastern Trail is a combination of off-road trails and scenic quiet country paths from Bug Light Park on Casco Bay in South Portland through Scarborough and Biddeford to Kennebunk and onto Wells all the way to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Some sections are not entirely complete yet however and require you to use public roadways.
The Eastern Trail vision and future plans include a bike trail from southern Maine to the East Coast Greenway that will eventually connect Calais, Maine all the way to Key West, Florida – but that’s a long bike ride and likely a long way away in development and planning. For more info on the exiting Eastern Trail bike path in Maine go to www.easterntrail.org and for info on the Greenway connector go to www.greenway.org.
In the Portland Maine region, a great bike ride adventure is to take a ferry out on Casco Bay to bike on the outlying islands. Casco Bay Ferries operates every day all year with boat trips out to six islands in Casco Bay - Great Chebeauge Island, Great Diamond Island, Little Chebeauge, Little Diamond Island, Long Island, and Peaks Island. You can BYOB, bring your own bike, or rent bikes in Portland or on island to tour around these beautiful Maine islands, where there is far less car traffic, amazing scenery and a real quiet island lifestyle best appreciated on a bike.
Sunday River Resort in Maine’s western mountains offers mountain bikers a technical bike park with jumps, bridges, berms and terrain elements, plus extensive trails for biking on specific ski resort terrain. Certain weekends, mountain bikers can use the chairlift to access the ski trail network for a minimal lift pass available for sale at South Ridge Base Lodge (bike rentals are also available here). The Sunday River valley of Newry and Bethel also offers great road cycling past covered bridges, rivers, and quiet pastoral areas, with some challenging uphills mixed in. Try Paradise Hill out of Bethel village to pump up your work out and to be rewarded with great views too.
Some of the best bike riding in Maine is on Mt Desert Island along Acadia National Park’s bike paths. The Acadia Park Loop Road offers scenic riding, but there is also car traffic so be warned. The road up Cadillac Mountain is very steep and can be challenging, narrow on hairpins turns, but it’s also incredibly scenic. On a mountain bike, the Acadia Park carriage roads have crushed rock paths perfect for leisure bicycling through splendid park scenery like the Bubbles, past Jordan Pond and under beautiful granite bridges. Acadia’s carriage roads were first designed by Rockefeller in the 1920s. Bikers need to share these beautiful roads with horses and people out walking. Bicycling is not permitted on Acadia’s hiking trails or on privately owned carriage roads so follow signage. Pick up an Acadia National Park carriage road map from any of the Park Ranger stations at the park entry gates or in town Bar Harbor before you hop on your bike and go.
Schoodic Peninsula, also part of Acadia National Park, but off island just north of Mount Desert Island, has a wonderfully scenic 6 mile Schoodic loop perfect for road bikes, shared with motor vehicles though FYI. Beautiful views of Mount Desert, lighthouses and the sea reward bikers along with big beautiful pink granite boulders ideal for a picnic lunch or just a water stop with water views along your bike ride loop.
Maine Adventure Cycling’s Atlantic Coast route follows an amazing bike trek down the Atlantic coast for 2,670 miles through 12 other states, eventually ending in Key West, Florida. The Atlantic Coast route Maine section begins in Bar Harbor and makes its way 250 miles down the coast to Kittery before entering New Hampshire.
For road cyclists looking for interesting Maine bike ride recommendations, the Maine DOT offers a Bike Book with 33 Loop Bike Tours located around the state, which you can download from the Explore Maine by Bike site
Maine is a bike friendly state, with a state law requiring motorist to yield 3 feet to bikers on the side of the road. Of course we caution bikers to always be careful, know and use proper bike hand signals, ride on the right side of the road and watch out for motorists who may not be aware of the 3-foot safe passage rules.
Maine hosts many bicycling events throughout the spring, summer and fall. Actually Shawnee Peak ski resort host a winter downhill mountain biking event on snow, so that makes Maine a four season bike state. Maine’s biggest bike events include the Trek across Maine from Sunday River to Portland, and the Demspey Challenge each October with Patrick Dempsey, Dr McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy, who returns to his native Maine for this great bike ride fund raiser from Lewiston each October.
Ride on and enjoy your time cycling in Vacationland.