Looking for a bit of adventure and want to hit some of the trails in Acadia National Park? I’ve put together a list of our top five hikes that we think will give you the best views. From family friendly options to one with some cliff clambering, there is certain to be something for everyone! Here is the best hikes in Acadia National Park.
1. Beehive Trail
Starting off with a trail that is closest to the entrance into Acadia National Park. Beehive Trail is Acadia’s famous trail for it’s stunning views, but also because you “earn” those views with a cliff climb over iron rungs and narrow trails along the edge of cliffs. It isn’t an overly long trail at just under a mile, but don’t let that distance fool you! You’ll be traversing ladders bolted into the rock and some hand/foot holds to help you ascend. If you are afraid of heights, this is NOT the hike for you. But they have made the trail easy enough though for most active climbers. Just watch your footing as you go and secure your belongings as you climb.
When to visit? Beehive Loop Trail is best from May until October. We visited in July and the views were absolutely amazing. I can imagine fall would be beautiful with the leaves changing colors.
The trail starts across from the Sand Beach parking lot. Be sure to arrive early because parking fills quickly throughout the day. Alternate parking locations are along the Park Loop Road, but please only park where designated. If you think parking will be an issue, leave your car at the Hulls Cove Visitor center and take the bus, it makes frequent stops around the island.
Head north from the sand beach parking lot (with the Beehive Lagoon on your right). You’ll see signs for the Bowl Trail, but then the Beehive Trail breaks off to the right. See the signs below to help guide your way. The first park of the trail is relatively easy with stone stairways, iron rungs to help you climb over the boulder and cliffs.
The trail gets increasingly tricky as you continue your ascent. Be sure to follow the light blue trail markers to progress on the path and stay away from dangerous cliffs and fragile vegetation. Be careful as you continue to climb on steep cliff faces and narrow ledges.
Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with fantastic views from across Sand Beach to the Atlantic Ocean and of Acadia National Park. Once you’ve had your fill, you have two options to descend. You can go back the way you came, but that is NOT recommended. The recommended path is to return through the forest to the Loop Road via the Bowl Trail.
This trail is NOT recommended for children. Active teenagers can make the climb, but make sure they are OK with heights. Also, no pets are allowed due to the steep terrain and iron rungs. Please stay on the trail and be courteous of fellow hikers.
2. Ocean Trail
Looking for the perfect path to meander along the ocean while seeing all the top sights? Then the Ocean trail is perfect for you! It begins at the far end of the Sand Beach parking lot and follows the eastern shore until you reach Otter Cliff approximately two miles later. Want to make it a round trip adventure? Then you’ll cover around 4 miles without adding some detours at the major attractions along the way.
I’d highly recommend parking at the Hulls Cove Visitor center and riding the free explorer bus to Sand Beach, then get off to explore the trail. The shuttle bus can pick you back up at the Otter Cliffs and you can continue your journey around Acadia National Park.
Note: be careful as you explore along the shore line. Rogue waves have been known to come crashing into the path.
Sights along the trail: About 1/2 way between Sand Beach and Otter Cliff is Thunder Hole. If you pass by as the tide is coming in, you’ll be able to enjoy the thunderous sound and the huge plumes of water in the air. Take the stairs down to the viewing area and peek into the concave space as the water heads back into the sea. It is also fun to explore the tidal pools that reside in the surrounding cliff sides. Take care when walking and always keep an eye on the ocean.
Conclude your hike with boulder beach and otter cliff. If you are hiking early in the morning before the crowds descend and the morning light is peaking over the horizon, you can get some fabulous photos just before Otter Cliff in Monument Cove. Otherwise, Otter Cliff is a wonderful spot to watch climbers rappelling down to the ocean and then climbing the rock face back up.
Dogs are allowed on this trail, but it is also highly trafficked, so please keep them on a leash and stay on the marked trails. This trail is great for kids. I wouldn’t recommend a stroller because you’ll want to go off the trail and a carrier will
suit you better.
3. Jordan Pond Loop Trail
The Jordan Pond Loop trail is another great family friendly hike. It is not accessible for strollers, but if you have a carrier, then it is doable. I recommend that you go counter-clockwise around the pond. You’ll start along a nice gravel path and then onto wooden planks to preserve the marshland just below. Please stay on the wooden walkway in order to protect the vegetation below. At the far end of the 150 foot deep pond, you’ll see a beaver dam and plenty of evidence of their “work” along the path.
Please do not wade or swim in the water (this includes pets). Jordan pond is a part of the public water supply. Instead, admire the way that glaciers created these valleys with towering granite cliffs above.
As you round the pond, you’ll continue on the wooden boardwalks before ending with a clamber over some granite rocks with clearly marked paths (hence the need for a baby carrier). See if the kids can spot any animals swimming in the pond, or frogs nearby.
Bring plenty of water and snacks for this 3.3 mile loop.
4. Bubble Trail
The bubble trail is another favorite for it’s views over Jordan pond and a huge boulder called “bubble rock” at the edge of the peak. This is a popular 1.4 mile round trip hike from the bubble pond parking lot to the top of Bubble rock and back. It’s popularity is in part due to the large boulder that was deposited at the cliffs edge by glaciers thousands of years ago. The boulder is made from white granite and is thought to have originated from 40 miles north before coming to its final resting place here.
The hike is moderate with a 768 foot ascent. You’ll begin on the bubbles divide trail before continuing onto North bubbles trail and South Bubbles trail. If you want to see the boulder, continue to South Bubbles trail. The trail begins in a forest with dirt paths and small steps that take you up the hill.
After you head towards the south bubble trail, you’ll emerge from the forest into a rocky summit. Head up and over a few rock climbs to the summit where you’ll easily spot bubble rock and views to Jordan Pond.
*You can combine the Jordan Pond Loop with a detour up to Bubble Rock, but we decided to complete them as two separate hikes. Or complete the South Bubble trail and then head down to Jordan Pond Loop.
5. Cadillac Mountain
If you want an alternative to driving up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, you can start at the bottom of the mountain and ascend to the top. There are two trails
If you want to take a 4.4 mile hike (round trip), park at the North Ridge Cadillac Mountain parking area. This is the easier of the two ways up to the summit. You’ll have spectacular views for the entire trail to the top. The trail will start in a grove of pine trees and then emerge into the open for awhile before the trail gets steeper. It does come close to the road a few times, but you’ll get to enjoy incredible views of Bar Harbor, Dorr Mountain and Porcupine Islands. After two miles, you’ll reach the summit of Cadillac Mountain. There are restrooms and a small gift shop as well as more views! Enjoy a nice picnic lunch and explore the summit before heading back down.
If you are looking for a bit of a challenge, then head for the South Ridge Cadillac Mountain trail that starts at the Blackwoods Campground and is a 7.4 mile one way trip. You’ll start off on a forested trail that slowly increases in steepness as you head towards the ridge. The nice benefit to this trail is that is stays away from any major roads until the end, making it a nice hike with wild flowers and a gradual climb.
What to Bring? Both hikes are moderate and can take a few hours up to the better part of the day, so its always best to bring water (in this awesome Eco friendly bottle), high protein snacks and hiking boots. Pack your drinks and food into this great hiking pack. The hiking pack is great because it can fold back up and be stored when not in use. I’ve linked to some of our favorites.
Acadia National Park is absolutely beautiful and there are so many hikes to explore! Comment below with your favorite hike in Acadia. Want to read more about Acadia National Park? Click below to head back to the Top 10 Things to do in Acadia National Park. Or if you are ready to explore more of the US and Europe, check out the interactive map.
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