This pedestrian path along the edge of Frenchman Bay, maintained by the Village Improvement Association of Bar Harbor, begins at the town pier and extends nearly a mile. It has existed for over 125 years, open to the public, as its sign says, “Thanks to the generosity of bordering landowners.” In the late 1800s, when the route stretched a bit farther to Cromwell Harbor, it was known as the Tow Path, or the ‘Lovers’ Walk.’
The path, open from dawn to dusk, winds its way past many historical sites: the Reading Room, once an exclusive private club and now the restaurant of the Bar Harbor Inn; the granite erratic carried by glaciers from about 40 miles to the northwest, known as the Balance Rock, and its namesake inn built as a private residence in 1903 for a Scottish railroad tycoon;
the former site of Beatrix Farrand’s Reef Point; the one-time inn named for the breakwater that extends from Bald Porcupine Island; and the former site of The Briars (1881-1968), Nelson Rockefeller’s birthplace in 1908, and later the summer home of the Hope Diamond.
FUN FACT: The pink or white roses that grow along the Shore Path are Rosa rugosa, native to China and Japan. ‘Rugose,’ from the same derivation as the word ‘corrugated,’ means ‘wrinkled,’ or in leaves, ‘having a roughly veined surface.’ (Native Maine roses have smooth leaves.) The rose ‘hips’ that bloom as the blossoms fade out, the fruit of the rose, are a good source of Vitamin C and can be eaten.