Acadia has more than 125 miles of trails. Some are easy enough to stroll along with a small child, while others require sturdy boots, full water bottles and plenty of lung power. For an easy choice, drive up Cadillac Mountain and walk the paved half-mile Cadillac Mountain Summit Loop for panoramic views of Frenchman Bay. It's popular with early birds at sunrise, though we think it's just as nice at the more-civilized sunset hour. A good moderate pick is the forested 2.2-mile trail to the summit of Champlain Mountain. The Beehive Loop, at less than a mile, involves clinging to iron rings bolted to the cliff face and is for the fit.

Beehive Loop

  • Start Bowl Trailhead
  • End Bowl Trailhead
  • Duration two hours
  • Distance 1.6 miles
  • Difficulty Hard

Acadia has a handful of hikes that a feel a bit like a European via ferrata, where you'll be ascending stretches of the trail with the help of iron, ladder-like rungs. Those with a fear of heights may want to skip this one.

Though it's not particularly long, the Beehive offers plenty of challenge. It's also quite popular, so set out early to avoid trail crowding. Start at the Bowl Trailhead, which is just north of Sand Beach (and about 4 miles south of Bar Harbor). After a third of a mile, the Bowl continues off to the left, and the Beehive Trail begins. You'll know you're on the right trail by the yellow warning sign describing the dangers of this hike. Shortly after starting, you'll see the granite cliff rising up ahead. The trail goes right up the face of the mountain, and you'll soon find yourself climbing up steep sections along narrow exposed cliffs. At times, you'll have to scramble up iron-rung ladders along the mountain. Don't rush, just take it slow – you'll likely have to stop often to wait for those climbing up ahead of you. After a few tough sections, you'll finally reach the summit. The views at the top are outstanding, with a sweeping panorama overlooking Frenchman Bay, Great Head and Sand Beach. This is a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch.

If you're game for more hiking, the Beehive connects with several other trails in the park, including Gorham Mountain Trail (heading south) and the Champlain South Ridge Trail (heading north).

Avoid making this hike after or during a rainstorm. The paths (and ladders) get slippery and can be quite hazardous. Ice can be a possibility from October to early May.

After the hike, head down to cool off in the chilly waters off Sand Beach.

If you enjoyed the thrill of the Beehive, take it to the next level and try the Precipice Trail, which is even longer, with equally challenging via ferrata–style stretches.