The greens and grays of Acadia National Park envelope you in the serenity and solitude that only nature can offer the human spirit. Intertwined between the rocks, hills, and trees is a network of expertly built carriage roads by consummate horseman and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Following the natural landscape, it was certain that there would be sections that required a bridge to cross streams and alternate access roads in the park.
Throughout the carriage road system are seventeen bridges built between 1917 and 1941, with Rockerfeller being intensively involved in the building of a majority of these bridges. Designed to mold within the natural landscape, instead of making mother nature move aside for man’s creation, Rockerfeller ensured that essential features of park were preserved.
Along the two-hour “Rockerfeller Bridges Tour” carriage ride from the Carriages of Acadia, the ride takes one past four bridges that range from the earliest to the most recently built bridge on the carriage road system.
Quickly realizing that the jerk and jolt of the carriage is not conducive to in-focus photos, the first bridge was quickly crossed when heading out on the ride. The Triad-Day Mountain bridge was built in 1941 by the park system and is 74.5 feet long.
The second bridge that is seen along this ride is the Jordan Pond Road, where the carriage road passes under the bridge. Built in 1932, and 85′ feet long, this bridge blends beautifully into the natural landscape.
Continuing down the lane, we quickly arrived to the third bridge on the ride. The Stanley Brook Bridge was built in 1933 and is 180 feet long. Having three arches that allow the Seaside Path trail, Stanley Brook Road, and the babbling Stanley Brook room to pass below its expansive bridge, this bridge is one of the more magnificent ones along the carriage road system.
While traveling along this route, one gets a spectacular view of the land that is still owned by the Rockerfeller family. Featuring Little Long Pond, this preserved area is still used by the Rockerfeller family to-date. However, while not part of Acadia Park, the grounds are open for public use and is considered a great place for dogs which are allowed to be leash-free.
This area is such a fabulous play ground with carriage roads throughout, used as bridle paths, a stunningly beautiful lake which lends itself to a multitude of water activities and a breathtaking view of Penobscot Mountain, and the Bubbles in the distance.
Continuing on we arrived to the highlight of the Carriage Ride Bridge Route. The first bridge that was built in the park is The Cobblestone Bridge. The only bridge built entirely of cobblestones, the builders quickly realized that cut granite was a much easier and less expensive way to build these bridges. Built in 1917 and 150 feet long, this bridge is truly a work of art by classic stonemasons.
The carriage ride then begins to wind down by passing through the closed gates at Jordan Pond Gatehouse. Getting down from the carriage and opening up the creaking gates made me feel like a member of the Rockerfeller family. Well, maybe they didn’t open the gates, but someone sure did for them!
From the gates, the return to Wildwood Stables came too soon for me. I hadn’t had enough of seeing the bridges on the carriage road, and already started to scheme my next outing to add some more bridges to my “have-seen” list. Here is the trail map from the carriage ride.
Now that I have visited the bridges of Acadia National Park by hoofbeats, it was time to visit them by footprints. That afternoon I headed out, determined to find a few more bridges. Close to Northeast Harbor is a second gatehouse known as Brown Mountain, with public parking, carriage roads and trails easily accessible.
Parking just north of Upper Hadlock Pond, we began heading uphill on the carriage road. Turning left at marker #13, then right at marker #12, within a mile and a half, we arrived to the Hemlock Bridge, which was built in 1924 and is 200 feet long. Beautifully set in the forest, one can tell that the building of bridges was becoming second nature to the craftsman and the workmanship was superb.
Within a quarter of a mile from the Hemlock Bridge is the Waterfall Bridge. Spectacularly set within the natural waterfall and flowing stream, this bridge is perhaps my favorite. While the waterfall runs fullest in the early spring as snow melts, the bridge still creates a sense of serenity. Wanting to head down to get a photo of the bridge, the first thing I run across is a set of stone steps!
Don’t know what it is with me and stone stairs this year, but after the Inca Trail, these seemed like a joke. The Waterfall bridge was built in 1925 and is 120 feet long. Truly a beautiful bridge.
And so the tour of the Bridges of Acadia National park comes to a close, I appreciate you coming out and enjoying the history, nature and man’s achievements with me. Who knows where we’ll be next!