Strenuous Hiking

The more physically strenuous trails in Acadia National Park take challenging but highly rewarding routes to the top of the mountain peaks, which rise dramatically from sea level to heights as great as 1,528 feet on top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the park.

Trails rated strenuous can be steep and often require considerable steady climbing over longer grades, sometimes with rough footing. On “ladder” trails, there may be iron rungs, handrails, and ladders in places to assist hikers across and up over exposed sections of cliffs and ledges. Hikers should be properly prepared with good footwear and a day pack of food, water, and clothing to match the weather and terrain to be encountered.

Two “ladder” trails are popular, one on The Beehive and another on nearby Champlain Mountain, both on Park Loop Road near the Sand Beach Entrance Station. The short but very popular Beehive Trail (0.5 miles one-way) climbs the steep pink granite cliffs of The Beehive to incredible views overlooking Sand Beach, Great Head and the many sites along Ocean Drive (the Park Loop Road). The Precipice Trail (1.3 miles one-way) climbs the sheer cliff walls of Champlain Mountain’s east face, which rises dramatically from sea level to over 1,000 feet. Maintained as a non-technical climbing route, this trail is perhaps the most challenging trail in Acadia National Park.

On the west side of Champlain Mountain, the Beachcroft Trail (1.2 miles one-way) winds up and around the beautiful dome of Huguenot Head before topping out on the bare summit and views of the village of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Schoodic Peninsula.

Just across Route 3 is The Tarn at the base of Dorr Mountain. The Canon Brook Trail leaves from just south of this pond, skirting the south side of Dorr Mountain before entering The Gorge between Cadillac and Dorr mountains. The Murray A. Young Path climbs up to a notch between the two peaks, and then a connector leads hikers to the Dorr Mountain summit (2.5 miles total one-way).

The long, broad and mostly bare south ridge of Cadillac Mountain rises gradually for much of its three-mile length, which is ascended by the scenic Cadillac South Ridge Trail (3.5 miles one-way).

Near the center of the east side of Mount Desert Island is Pemetic Mountain, which overlooks Jordan Pond. The Pemetic North Ridge Trail (1.2 miles one-way) is a nice route to the peak, climbing up from Bubble Pond in the deep valley between Pemetic Mountain and Cadillac Mountain.

Norumbega Mountain in Acadia National Park rises to an impressive 852 feet above sea level and forms the eastern wall of Somes Sound, Maine’s only fjord and the natural divide between the east and west sides of Mount Desert Island. The pleasant but strenuous Goat Trail (0.6 miles one-way) leads hikers up the north side of the mountain to wonderful views over the sound to the peaks of Acadia Mountain and St. Sauveur Mountain.

On the west side of Mount Desert Island is Western Mountain, which is comprised of two major peaks, Bernard Mountain and Mansell Mountain. The Mansell Mountain Trail (0.9 miles one-way) leads hikers to fine vistas over Long Pond and to the ledges and cliffs of Beech Mountain, as well as Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor. Just to the east near Echo Lake are Acadia Mountain and the Acadia Mountain Trail (1.0 miles one-way), which climbs to open ledges and broad views over Somes Sound to the many peaks and ridges of the east side of Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park.

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