Spring, for me, is the perfect time to break out the bikes and get them, and your legs, tuned up for the season ahead.

There’s so much to recommend May and early June mountain biking: a relatively small black fly population; an equally small number of visitors to some of the more popular trails; cooler weather than mid-summer; and vistas unobstructed by summer foliage.

Two of my favorite warmup destinations are – and this won’t surprise any of you inveterate riders – Acadia National Park and Camden Hills State Park.

In those two meccas, you’ll find something for every ability, ambition and endurance level, and in a single outing you can combine leisurely riding on paved surfaces, scenic pedaling on well-maintained gravel surfaces, and technical challenges to test your winter-atrophied reflexes.

Our first trip is always to Acadia, where a ride around the 21-mile paved portion of the Park Loop Road is a treat, especially the section along Ocean Drive with the surf crashing against the rocks and the thrum of lobster boats circling their pots to haul in the day’s catch. One reason we start the season on this ride is to avoid the summer traffic that can make a trip around the loop a little daunting once the throngs arrive.

It’s only natural that first-time visitors’ attention is diverted from bikers sharing the road with them. So ride early in the summer. Just a word to the wise, based on plenty of experience.

You can also include a ride to the summit of Cadillac, which is eminently doable. But I must admit that the last time I did it was so long ago it’s just a fading memory.

The next step up in the difficulty progression is to hit some of the well-maintained carriage trails in the 45-mile network from which automobiles, thankfully, are banned. The entire network has been vastly improved and upgraded (and graded) in recent years as a result of a multi-million-dollar refurbishing project.

Options range from the gently sloping 6-mile circuit around Eagle Lake (a favorite of my family) and the similarly relaxing and short Jordan Pond trail, to the more challenging 11-mile Around The Mountain loop that probably will have your early-season lungs begging for air.

One compensation is every time you want to stop to catch a breath, you’ll be greeted with a spectacular view so you won’t mind stopping frequently.

Your options in Acadia are so varied that immediately after your first trip there you’ll probably, like many others, start making plans for your next visit. Be sure to pick up a copy of the free Carriage Road User Map at the Visitor Center, and I’ve found the well-written Acadia’s Biking Guide and Carriage Road Handbook ($4.50) to be a very helpful, pocket-sized resource.

Looking a scant 30 miles west across Blue Hill and Penobscot Bays (a 75-mile drive, thanks to Maine’s beautiful but circuitous coastline) you can see the Camden Hills, which I’d suggest should be your next early-season destination for some superior biking. Again I emphasize the desirability of getting in some May and June uncluttered pedaling before the hoards arrive, although my experience is that the biking trails in Camden Hills State Park, especially on the more technical single-trackers (rocks, roots, stumps, streams, steep pitches) are ones on which you may well spend the entire day without encountering another biker.

One option, enjoyed by many is the 1.5-mile ride up the paved Mt. Battie Auto Road, including, of course, the exhilarating descent.

The road ascends to the 780-foot summit where there’s a commanding view over the picturesque village and across West Penobscot Bay to North Haven and Vinalhaven, and further beyond, in different directions, Isle au Haut, Matinicus and Monhegan islands.

The principal and most popular ride in the park is on the well-graveled and graded Ski Shelter Trail.

Also known as the Multi-Use Trail (because bikers share it with hikers and horseback riders), this trail runs about five miles around the northeast side of Megunticook Mountain on an easy contour from the camping area on Route 1 to a parking lot on Route 173 between Lincolnville Center and Lincolnville Beach. Passing through mixed forests and nearby bogs, you’ll often see a variety of birds and wildlife.

After passing the reconstructed ski lodge at about the trail’s mid-point, you will intersect with three other trails open to bikers, but which test the skill of even the more advanced rider.

The first is Zeke’s Trail, which ascends relatively steeply up an old logging road for about a mile to its intersection with the Cameron Mountain Trail. There you’ll turn right and descend rather sharply for about a mile on a challenging trail to its intersection with a well-maintained gravel surface heading east for another mile, where it rejoins the ski shelter trail.

Proceeding for another mile on the ski shelter trail, you’ll see the Frohock Mountain Trail departing on your right.

This trail, created about 12 years ago especially for mountain bikers, features abundant rocks, roots and elevation changes, which can prove to be a worthy test for many.

It’s an out-and-back trail, totaling about four miles, passing near the summits of Garey mountain (790 feet) and Derry Mountain (770 feet), and ending on Frohock (454 feet) within shouting distance of Lincolnville Beach.

So loosen up those legs and get out there while the getting’s great.

John Christie is an author and year-round Maine explorer. He and his son Josh write in Outdoors about places to enjoy the beauty that only Maine has to offer. He can be contacted at: [email protected]