Hiking at Acadia National Park

The rocky coast of Maine has long drawn New Englanders and other visitors to its rugged terrain, pebble-stone beaches, and salty ocean air, but none more faithfully than the hikers of the 120 miles of beautiful trails at Acadia National Park.

With exquisite oceans views and blueberry bushes underfoot, Acadia National Park features some of the most exciting hiking along the Atlantic coast, as well as approximately 55 miles of gravel roads for walking, biking, and horse-back riding. The hikes are short, but well-marked and intersect in a complex network of trails which cover large areas of the island, best travelled using a map. Maps are published by several individuals and organizations, and are available for sale at many locations around Mount Desert Island.

Here is a listing of some of the most popular hikes at the park:

Ship Harbor Nature Trail – (Easy) A self-guided 1.3 mile nature trail that features rocky ledges and nice ocean views on the western side of Mount Desert Island near the Bass Harbor Light.

East Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail – (Easy) Over 2 miles of continuous views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman’s Bay and open cliff ledges. Cadillac begins on the Park Loop Road a few hundred yards after you enter the one-way section near the entrance road to Cadillac Mountain.

Great Head Trail – (Moderate) This very interesting and relatively short ocean trail begins at the eastern edge of Sand Beach and circles around atop the sea cliffs which make up Great Head with dramatic views of Ocean Drive and Frenchman’s Bay. Be very careful on this trail because the sea cliffs on the footpath are high and there are no guard rails or other protection.

Precipice Trail – (Strenuous) This is the most well-known and challenging trail in Acadia National Park that features a near-vertical, 1,000 foot climb up granite ledges to the top of Champlain Mountain. The trail has iron rungs and ladders to assist climbers, but it is only recommended for experienced hikers. The endangered peregrine falcon has returned to the area and nests along the Precipice Trail, so Park Rangers close the trail over the summer until the young birds leave the nest.

Beehive Trail – (Strenuous) Considered the best alternative for hikers that are interested in the Precipice, this hike has a vertical climb of about 500 feet. As is the case with the Precipice, there are iron rungs and ladders stationed along the route, and only those who are physically fit should attempt the Beehive Trail. It begins just across the Loop Road from the Sand Beach parking lot and climbs directly up open ledges to the summit.

Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail – (Strenuous) this is one of the longest trails in Acadia that climbs gradually for almost four miles through a mix of spruce forest and granite ledges to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. The trail can be accessed easily by campers at Blackwoods, and you can return by any of the many other trails found along the way.

Acadia Mountain Trail – (Strenuous) The Acadia Mountain is one of the most popular trails in the park which goes up and over the summit of Acadia Mountain for a one way distance of about 1 and 1/4 miles and a vertical climb of under 700 feet. It is also one of the most popular hikes led by Park Rangers as part of their regular summer programs. Hikers can return via the fire road along the brook between Acadia and St. Sauveur Mountains.

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