Sunday, August 19, 2012

Biking Jordan Pond to Ampitheater Bridge

Bar Harbor, ME    High:  77   Low:  58

Sparky is getting better at navigating carriage roads and not getting lost! Woo-hoo! Today she biked the Amphitheater valley that was carved out by glaciers. The carriage road that runs from Jordan Pond to the Amphitheater Bridge has THREE beautiful bridges. It's a trip out and back of about 4.8 miles, with some significant climbing, to an elevation of about 580 feet, a great workout for Sparky!

This time she had her map, her supplementary directions, and having been out this direction before, remembered (thank heaven for small miracles, offers E.) how to get back!

You start at the south end of Jordan Pond. Cross over the Jordan Dam Pond Bridge and follow the carriage road for .1 of a mile. Take a LEFT at intersection 14, and the road climbs and climbs.  In about  a half mile, the road turns sharply to the left, and TADA! The first bridge on this stretch of road. This is the West Branch Bridge.

It has a very narrow, six foot wide arch and is modeled after a bridge in Central Park. Several of Rockefeller's bridges are modeled after some of his favorite ones from New York's Central Park. Not long after crossing West Branch Bridge, there is yet another bridge that is awesome! It's the Cliffside Bridge. The Cliffside Bridge is 230 feet long. The bridge looks like an English castle with the tower viewing sections.

There are viewing platforms and fancy chutes that drain water from the carriage roads. They sort of look like gun turrets.
Viewing tower on the Cliffside Bridge
Here's another shot from a different angle of the Cliffside Bridge. It is really high up and there is no easy trail path down to be able to see the bridge from down below. It's very massive, though! The view out across the landscape is spectacular!

One more bridge to see....Sparky continued onward to the next intersection, taking a RIGHT at signpost 21. As you come to the end of the Amphitheater valley, here comes the Amphitheater Bridge, the longest in the carriage road bridge system at 245 feet. It is WONDERFUL!

This bridge curves hugs the curve in the road to cross the Amphitheater valley. What makes this bridge so extra special is the Amphitheater Trail, like so many of the trails in the park, comes down beside the bridge, then follows the brook UNDER and THROUGH the bridge.

Here's what the trail looks like passing under the bridge.

Because it's been raining quite heavily off and on, there was a waterfall to be seen through the bridge tunnel. The waterfall is much heavier and faster in the spring, I would imagine.
A spectacular ride today...Sparky has seen quite a few of the bridges, there are just a few left to find. Not all of them are accessible on the public carriage roads, there are a couple that are off limits to bikes. But these that she has seen are just absolutely wonderful. The care with which they were designed to blend into their surroundings is a crowning Rockefeller achievement, that's for sure!


  1. Another amazing bike ride with some beautiful bridges. Does Eldy ride? You have sure made me want to visit that area...maybe next summer.

    1. Eldy doesn't like to ride anything with an incline, but that's partly because 1) his bike isn't shifting properly, and 2) his tires are severely underinflated. Tires are fixed, shifters are not, he still doesn't want to go. He'll wait till there's a rails to trails trail that's level, then I will probably get him out on the road to bike with me.

  2. You find the most wonderful bridges. It is so cool to look closely at them and see how they are constructed! Great job.

  3. You and that camera are doing a great job. Those pictures are so crisp and clear. They even feel cool!! :-))

  4. Love the stonework on those bridges, and can imagine how great it is to see them firsthand.

  5. Lovely set of pics. Can't wait until we make a long trip to the East Coast. (We're West Coasties and have only seen bits and pieces back east.)