Acadia National Park might be America’s most dog-friendly national park. Only a handful of its trails are off-limits to dogs (and those are closed because they have ladders). The rest of the trails are open to leashed dogs, including amazing singletrack that winds its way through mixed coniferous-deciduous forests and over rocky ridges with 360-degree ocean views. There are also about 45 miles of carriage roads. Dog-lovers can even sit outside at the Jordan Pond House and enjoy popovers on the lawn with their pups.
But if your dog is anything like the Far North dog, then on-leash walks will only go so far in tiring out your four-legged friend. Fortunately, this New England Eden has a place where dogs can run free, side-by-side with their owners. The place is Little Long Pond, and it sits just outside Acadia National Park, on the south side of the island close to Seal Harbor. (Confusingly, there are two Long Ponds on Mount Desert Island: this one and a much larger one on the west side of the island. See the map below for the entrance to this Long Pond.)
This privately owned tract of land contains about five miles of carriage roads and a few short sections of singletrack, including a nice, rugged section that follows the west shore of Little Long Pond. The private owners have been kind enough to open it to dogs off-leash. The carriage roads are wide with surfaces of packed dirt and crushed rock. Unlike the carriage roads inside the park, these carriage roads do not allow bikes, so dogs can run free without risk of collision.
Dogs are also welcome to swim in Little Long Pond. Dog owners exhausted from a day of hiking or cycling through the park can also just relax on one of the meadows that overlooks the pond while their dogs swim and play with other pups. Owners are reminded to clean up after their pets.
The entire island is pretty dog-friendly. Here are a few places to visit.
Shopping: Bark Harbor pet store in Bar Harbor. Dogs are welcome to browse.
Eating: Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor. Dogs are welcome on the patio.
Getting around: Dogs are even welcome on the Island Explorer, the free shuttle bus service that offers rides to popular locations around the island.
More info: The National Park Service maintains a list of trails closed to pets.
Parking is available along route 3 and up the hill toward Northeast Harbor (follow signs).