The Beehive is a spectacular combination of hiking and rock climbing, requiring visitors to cling to iron rungs drilled directly into bedrock as they ascend the rocky dome that looms over the southeast corner of Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. It’s a strenuous route with a good deal of exposure, making it unsuitable for children or visitors afraid of heights. Fortunately, these hikers can follow the Bowl Trail up and around the northwest side of the Beehive to enjoy the views as well. For anyone comfortable on the edge, the Beehive is an absolute must.
Begin hiking along the Bowl Trail, a well-trodden path through the woods that quickly reaches an intersection with the Beehive Trail. Less adventurous hikers will continue along the Bowl Trail straight ahead, first reaching the small namesake lake (the Bowl) before looping up to the summit of the Beehive. Those looking for an extra challenge can turn right onto the Beehive Trail to begin their climb.
Very quickly, the trail begins climbing the southern face of the Beehive. It switchbacks directly up the cliff, and hikers will need to use iron rungs, railings, and grates to navigate to the peak successfully. The granite face is worn smooth by wind and water, so it is imperative that this trail only be attempted in dry conditions. While no actual rock climbing skills are necessary to enjoy this hike, visitors must be comfortable with exposure.
Once you reach the top, great views of Sand Beach and many of the surrounding bays can be found. The Bowl comes into view as you begin your gradual descent, and a short spur leads to its pleasant shores. Continue along the southwest shore to connect back to the trailhead or follow signs for Gorham Mountain for a longer loop.
Although it's only 1.6 miles round trip, the strenuous nature of this hike (and the occasional traffic jam) means visitors will want to budget one to two hours for this hike. Only uphill travel is allowed on the Beehive Trail, so once you start, you must commit to finishing the route.