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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks,

I've been soaking up the good advice and interesting posts in this forum for a while but am relatively new to posting myself, so first off, many thanks to all who contribute their advice and trip reports here.

I'm planning a trip along the coast of Maine for the upcoming summer, and I'd like to know if anyone has any advice or experience along my route. I'm planning a trip from Portland to Bar Harbor (with a stay on Mt. Desert island), and back again; I'm planning on following the East Coast Greenway route, as documented by the really informative literature from the ME dept. of transportation.

I'm set on the route, and can read the maps, etc., but what I'm curious about is the stuff I can't read in guide books or on maps: local information, spots that I shouldn't miss, interesting sites, cool vistas (duh... it's the coast of Maine, I know, I know...), places where I should deviate from the route (ie, heavily trafficed roads, etc.). I was thinking about camping along the route, but since my last camping trip I've determined I prefer a nice warm bed to having rocks in my back, so I'm planning on going inn to inn. If anyone has stayed at a particularly nice inn along the route, I'd appreciate your feedback. Photos would be awesome too if you have any from a trip along the coast.

I've searched this site and Crazyguyonabike.com, and I'm surprised there aren't more trip reports for Maine listed (I'll have to remedy that when I go...). Any advice, or interesting stuff you can offer would be most appreciated.

Thanks,

Mr. P.
 

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Adventure Cycling

Your route is the terminus of the Adventure Cycling Atlantic Coast Route (and Northern Tier Route). If you go to adventurecycling.org and buy section 1 of the Atlatic Coast Route, you will get a lot of information on lodging, attractions, etc. I don't have the exact details of the ECGW in front of me, but if I had to choose between that route and the Adventure Cycling route, I would go with the latter, although it is my understanding that they are quite similar in Maine.

Another thing to do on the Adventure Cycling web site is to go to the on-line Cyclists' Yellow Pages and click on the United States, and then click on Maine. You'll find additional information there.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Kerry Irons said:
Your route is the terminus of the Adventure Cycling Atlantic Coast Route (and Northern Tier Route). If you go to adventurecycling.org and buy section 1 of the Atlatic Coast Route, you will get a lot of information on lodging, attractions, etc. I don't have the exact details of the ECGW in front of me, but if I had to choose between that route and the Adventure Cycling route, I would go with the latter, although it is my understanding that they are quite similar in Maine.

Another thing to do on the Adventure Cycling web site is to go to the on-line Cyclists' Yellow Pages and click on the United States, and then click on Maine. You'll find additional information there.

Wow. Lots of cool stuff on the Adventure Cycling Yellow-pages site for Maine. Thanks so much for the information. My options are still open, so I'll certainly check out the map for section 1 of the Atlantic Coast route.

I haven't finalized a route yet, but I'm curious to know why you prefer the Atlantic Coast route over the ECGW (I haven't yet seen the Atlantic Coast route maps, but from the website it seems to join the ECGW around Freeport. Whether the routes are parallel from there, I don't know.) Please let me know why you prefer one over the other. Any specific reasons? Better roads or more scenic? Have you cycled either?

Thanks in advance!
 

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what are your criteria?

I'm not privy to the ECGW scuttlebutt, but a quick glance at that website leads me to think the trail is unpaved. So are you trying to take an unpaved bike tour? Or did the folks in ME get ahead of the curve and pave it like a Multi Use Trail? Seems that option would be minimal traffic hassle, whereas a coastal tour would probably put you on many 2-lane roads with summer tourist traffic (but you might cover more miles).

It's been a long time, but I once pedaled up the coast from Bath to Bar Harbor on an AYH pannier tour. I vaguely recall some nice seaside towns, although much of the route travelled inland by necessity as the coast is so convoluted. Actually the only thing I remember vividly is a small town BBQ called Pigfest where tens of thousands ate BBQ and drank beer for free. The town saves all year for the extravaganza. Anyway, that was circa 1986 so perhaps things (everything?!) has changed since...
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
ispoke said:
I'm not privy to the ECGW scuttlebutt, but a quick glance at that website leads me to think the trail is unpaved. So are you trying to take an unpaved bike tour? Or did the folks in ME get ahead of the curve and pave it like a Multi Use Trail? Seems that option would be minimal traffic hassle, whereas a coastal tour would probably put you on many 2-lane roads with summer tourist traffic (but you might cover more miles).

It's been a long time, but I once pedaled up the coast from Bath to Bar Harbor on an AYH pannier tour. I vaguely recall some nice seaside towns, although much of the route travelled inland by necessity as the coast is so convoluted. Actually the only thing I remember vividly is a small town BBQ called Pigfest where tens of thousands ate BBQ and drank beer for free. The town saves all year for the extravaganza. Anyway, that was circa 1986 so perhaps things (everything?!) has changed since...
This will be a road tour on a road/touring bike with a rack and panniers. I'm not taking any sort of off-roading adventure. The plan is to travel from Portland to Bar Harbor (averaging 80 - 90 Miles per day, give or take a few).

The East Coast Greenway is described as: "A multi-user, firm-surface, inter-urban equivalent to the Appalachian Trail connecting major cities of the east coast." My impression is that it's something "in progress" nationwide, but doesn't quite apply to Maine yet. In its literature Maine refers to a road-tour route along the coast as "Maine's East Coast Greenway."

I seem to recall hearing about some sort of BBQ festival in Maine as well. I'd be curious to know when it was you took your tour, and where you encountered this "pigfest;" it sounds great! And as for "summer traffic," I'm not going to be on US 95 or RTE.1. The ECGW idea and the mapped route from Maine's Dept. of Transportation is that it allows you to travel on back-roads (for the most part). The State of ME route/ECGW route is designed (or so I understand) to be bike friendly, or at least as bike friendly as possible.

I am simply looking for anyone who has travelled this route, or a similar coastal route, to offer some points of interest they may have encountered, or other interesting things (like your "pigfest" :) )

Many thanks
 

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ACA vs. ECGW

The reason I would pick the Adventure Cycling route over the ECGW is that ECGW is focused on being "off road." That is their vision, though in many cases, their route is still on the road. However, their reference to "firm surface" does not necessarily mean pavement, and can include dirt. They also sometimes route you onto sidewalks. My understanding is that in Maine, they are using mostly roads, but I have no specific knowledge. The Advenure Cycling routes are 99%+ on pavement, with very occasional use of bike paths. A little bit of the Maine coast section (2.5 miles) uses a paved bike path to get through Brunswick, ME. The route does use US-1, and of the total Adventure Cycling route miles in Maine (includes the Northern Tier route), 60% are on federal highways. In many places, if you want to ride near the ocean, US-1 is your only choice. The route does veer off US-1 where the alternatives are better.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Kerry Irons said:
The reason I would pick the Adventure Cycling route over the ECGW is that ECGW is focused on being "off road." That is their vision, though in many cases, their route is still on the road. However, their reference to "firm surface" does not necessarily mean pavement, and can include dirt. They also sometimes route you onto sidewalks. My understanding is that in Maine, they are using mostly roads, but I have no specific knowledge. The Advenure Cycling routes are 99%+ on pavement, with very occasional use of bike paths. A little bit of the Maine coast section (2.5 miles) uses a paved bike path to get through Brunswick, ME. The route does use US-1, and of the total Adventure Cycling route miles in Maine (includes the Northern Tier route), 60% are on federal highways. In many places, if you want to ride near the ocean, US-1 is your only choice. The route does veer off US-1 where the alternatives are better.
Kerry,

I'll certainly check out the Adventure cycling route. I'm beginning to think I'll follow some combination of that route and the Maine ECGW route. Thanks again for the information.
 

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One thing you'll find is that riding the coast of Maine is not like riding the coast of California at all. The road does not really follow the coast line. As you ride along, there will be long slivers of land branching off towards the water that dead end. In order to view the coast, you have to follow these down to the end, then turn around and go back. Much of the land along the coast is privately owned and not accessible to the public. Unfortunately, the coast of Maine is fairly hard to see.

With that said, there's no reason not to have a great time, especially if you like small town America. Check listings before you go, but there should be a fair amount of local events during the summer, particularly in the Camden/Rockport area.

I would also be prepared for some cold, foggy damp weather even at the height of summer.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I did notice that the roads zig-zag away from the coast a bit. I'm kind of looking forward to a bit of varied scenery (ie, some wooded roads, etc.), rather than just riding along the ocean all the time. As for the weather, I'm all too familiar with rapid New England climate changes; occasionally when I head out for a ride, I feel as though I'm carting around my whole damn cycling wardrobe.

As for the terrain, I'm assuming it's rather flat (compared to northwestern Vermont or the White Mountains where I've cycled quite a bit). I haven't seen any elevation maps of the Maine coast yet; anyone have input on the terrain?
 

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Skip Maine and go to Nova Scotia...

Quite roads, beautiful coastal scenery, few tourists, and friendly Canadians instead of crotchety New Englanders. I've toured there 3 times and loved it. You can take the ferry from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
robwh9 said:
Quite roads, beautiful coastal scenery, few tourists, and friendly Canadians instead of crotchety New Englanders. I've toured there 3 times and loved it. You can take the ferry from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth.
Ummm...thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick with the crotchety New Englanders. ;)

I am considering a ferry ride from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia as a side trip though, but not for touring. Any suggestions for places to visit?
 

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Naturally Acadia Nat'l Park is spectacular, and the cycling there is terrific. You might also want to visit Damariscotta, then head down the peninsula to Pemiquid Point and New Harbor and Back Harbor. Great lighthouse at Pemaquid, as well as nice inns/restaurants in the area. Wiscasset is also very nice. If you pass through there, try to eat at Le Garage. Great food. Close to the same area is Boothbay Harbor. Definitely worth a look. From either Boothbay or New Harbor, take the ferry to Monhegan Island. You can't bike there, (no roads), but the Island is beautiful. I'd plan to spend a full day there, relaxing, hiking, and taking pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Mr. Versatile said:
Naturally Acadia Nat'l Park is spectacular, and the cycling there is terrific. You might also want to visit Damariscotta, then head down the peninsula to Pemiquid Point and New Harbor and Back Harbor. Great lighthouse at Pemaquid, as well as nice inns/restaurants in the area. Wiscasset is also very nice. If you pass through there, try to eat at Le Garage. Great food. Close to the same area is Boothbay Harbor. Definitely worth a look. From either Boothbay or New Harbor, take the ferry to Monhegan Island. You can't bike there, (no roads), but the Island is beautiful. I'd plan to spend a full day there, relaxing, hiking, and taking pics.
Great information, thanks. Just the type of stuff I'm interested in knowing for my trip. :)
 

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You're welcome. New England, and especially Maine, is my fav. place to vacation.
 

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so when are you planning this trip? I'm living in Bar Harbor, originally from Portland, and have been really interested in biking the distance for a while. When do you plan on arrving in BH? It'd be great to talk to you about your experience. Also, I would definitely recommend the Park loop road and carriage trails in Acadia while you're here. Good luck - there are some truly sublime places up that way. Slide me an email sometime, eh?
 

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I rode from somewhere north of Portland up to Bar Harbor in 1995. A lot of the roads had high traffic and some were narrow. A lot of it wasn't great cycling, to be honest. The stretch in to Bar Harbor from Ellsworth was particularly bad.

As nice as "coast of Maine" sounds, it's not very good for touring, sad to say. Maybe it's improved in the last 10 years.
 

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Maine

Hi,

I am also planning a roadtrip to the coast of maine - Bar harbor. I was wondering how your trip was and if you have any iseas.

Thanks
 

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i did some riding down in camden this past fall. gorgeous, some good climbing too. its a wonderful area. enjoy it, and know that some of the roads can be just awful (maine winters) but most of them (esp if you are using a cycle-friendly route) are fine.
 
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