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Carly Manning | 07.31.2019

Acadia National Park is a truly magnificent destination located in Maine, just off the Atlantic Coast. As one of the most popular parks in the U.S., it hosts a lot of visitors each year, and it’s not hard to see why. A trip to Acadia will treat you to a stunning variety of scenery from lush green forests to rugged coastlines. The park is open year-round, but we recommend visiting between May and October when all the facilities are open.

Fall is an extra special time to visit when the foliage turns delicious shades of red, yellow, and orange. It’s first-class leaf-peeping! Acadia is also a popular destination for birders, who flock from all over the globe in the hopes of catching a glimpse of puffins, warblers, peregrine falcon, and other birds of prey.

You will find a number of fantastic trails for hikers with a range of abilities. We’ve rounded up some of the best day hikes the park has to offer.

This article originally appeared on Outdoor Project on July 7, 2017. It was updated on July 31, 2019.

 


Enjoying lunch atop Cadillac Mountain. Eric Adsit.

Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail

Hike up Acadia’s tallest mountain in any season but winter for stunning views of the park and plenty of peregrine falcon sightings. Starting at sea level, the South Ridge Trail to Cadillac Mountain takes you all the way to the summit (with 1,380 feet of elevation gain) over the course of 7 miles. Cedar grove forests, rocky face steps, and a quaint pond await.

Ship Harbor Trail​

An easy hike that includes ocean views and bird-watching. This 1.8-mile forest jaunt on Ship Harbor Trail is a simple loop trail that highlights some of Acadia’s best wildlife: great blue heron, osprey, and bustling tidal pools. Pack in a snack and stop for a picnic by the rocky headlands.

Jesup Path

Probably the best introductory hike to Acadia, this 2-mile out-and-back route on Jesup Path takes hikers along a charming boardwalk path in the forest and opens out into a meadow buzzing with wildlife. Complete with informational displays and located nearby visitor centers, it’s a good way to start or end any outdoor Acadia excursion.

 


Champlain Mountain seen from across Newport Cove. Ben Dlin.

Champlain Mountain via South Ridge Trail

A hike up to Acadia’s second highest peak, Champlain Mountain via South Ridge offers the added bonus of increased seclusion. Much less packed than other out-and-backs in the area, this 5-mile trail boasts amazing ocean views as well as sweeping panoramas of neighboring peaks. Try this trail on a dry day, as any moisture can make the footing tricky.

Beehive Loop Trail

A short but fast-paced trail for the adventurous hiker, Beehive Loop has you clinging to iron rungs drilled into bedrock and climbing up boulders along the cliff. While no formal rock climbing experience is necessary (although the trail may not be suitable for kiddos), this short and punchy route is perfect for those craving an adrenaline rush.

Ocean Path

A 2-mile rugged coastal trail is great for a few hours of exploring. Ocean Path passes tidal pools with crashing waves and favorite spots like Sand Beach, Otter Point, and Otter Cliff. This trail is a favorite among visitors, so be prepared to share it with the crowds.

 


Exploring ancient sea caves on Gorham Mountain Trail. Eric Adsit.

Gorham Mountain Trail

A great option for those seeking distance, Gorham Mountain Trail can be easily paired with Ocean Path or Beehive Loop to add a few extra miles. Winding through rocky forest paths and coming out into breathtaking ocean views, this busy trail is a good way to see a lot of Mount Desert Island at once.

Beech Cliff Trail

A thrilling and less-trafficked trail, Beech Cliff Trail features ladders and light climbing along the west side of Mount Desert Island. Beginning at Echo Lake, hikers will soon reach the first climbing section of many. If the climb is too much, alternatives are available near the trailhead. Be sure to attempt this one on dry days as the ladders can be hazardous when wet.

Beech Mountain Fire Tower

At the top of Beech Mountain sits a historic fire tower—and a number of trails leading up to it. Most trails are steep and involve a bit of climbing or scrambling, but the views by the tower make it all worth it.

 


The incoming tide at Otter Point. Daniel Sherman.

Otter Point and Otter Cliffs

This hiking destination is all about the rocks: rocks for climbing and for viewing. At Otter Point, historic structures like the Spindle can be seen from shore, and the 110-foot Otter Cliff is a favorite among rock climbers. Hike along Ocean Path to reach this striking destination and opt for a sunrise or sunset trip to admire the colors along the jagged cliffs and boulders.

The Precipice Trail

One of the steepest, hardest ,and most thrilling trails in the entire national park, the Precipice Trail offers stunning views that are 100% worth it. You will ascend the rock face of Champlain Mountain using iron rungs and ladders. This is not a hike for everyone and is definitely not recommended for children. Please hike sensibly and use reasonable caution.

Great Head Trail

A ton of beautiful scenery is packed into a short 1.7-mile moderate hike on the Great Head Trail. This trail offers everything from pink granite cliffs, gray birch tree forests, and panoramic coastline views. This hike is great any time of day and accessible enough for the whole family.

Comments

Beautiful but not too strenuous hikes. Acadia is one of my favorite places.
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