The Precipice is one of the most exciting trails in all of Acadia National Park. Ascending the rock face of Champlain Mountain, hikers use a series of iron rungs, ladders, and stairs to reach the summit. This hike is certainly not for the faint of heart, and there are narrow trails and great exposure throughout.
Beginning at the parking lot, adventurous hikers scramble up a boulder field and approach the first serious vertical ascent. While not a long trail, this hike gains elevation quickly, and most of the movement is purely vertical. Following well-marked blue blazes, hikers grind through grueling scrambles interrupted by ladders and rungs designed to help them up tricky sections.
After a relatively short ascent, hikers will find themselves on the top of Champlain Mountain, one of the tallest peaks in Acadia. Enjoy stellar views of Mount Desert Island and the surrounding bodies of water, Frenchman's Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Champlain is the first place in the United States to receive sunlight every morning!
There are multiple options to return to the parking lot. While you can descend down the Precipice Trail, it is certainly not recommenced. The best option is the Orange/Black Trail, which heads north from the summit and descends to a trailhead that you will have seen lower on the Precipice. The next option is to return via the South Ridge Trail, marked by the familiar blue blazes. This heads south from the summit. This trail leads back to the Sand Beach parking lot, however, and adds a bit of extra distance (about 1 mile) to return to your car.
Again, this trail is not recommended for those with small children or a fear of heights!
The Precipice Trail is closed yearly between March 15 and August 15 due to Peregrine Falcon nesting.