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Monday, August 24, 2020

Beech Cliff Trail - Acadia National Park

We had just finished hiking the Beehive (in full wedding attire) just the day before.   It's easy to say we were in love with the park and were swooning over Acadia's iron rung trails that combine tricky hikes with sweeping views of coastal Maine.  Beehive blew us out of the water and I guess you could say we were quickly becoming rung trail junkies.  These famous trails offer hikers a chance to hike along cliff edges and up steep rocky paths to mountain summits via sets of iron ladders and rungs.  Our next plan was the most famous and challenging of the rung trails.  We set out bright and early for the Precipice Trail first only to realize the trail was closed with an opening date of "some time today".  Instead, we hiked a more tame iron rung trail with the intention of completing the Precipice Trail hike first thing tomorrow morning.  This little detour is how we found ourselves on the quiet side of the park and up the ladders to the views along the Beech Cliff Trail. 

The Beech Cliff trail is tame compared to the other iron rung trails like Precipice and Beehive.  You have ladders and a few small rungs as you make your way up the trail, but the iron guides do not skirt challenging cliff edges with exposed drop-offs like the other trails do.  It is also a short and sweet loop hike at only 1.8 miles with 500 feet of elevation gain (all in the first 1/2 mile) and can be completed just under an hour.  It's a bit of a farther drive than some of the other attractions, over on the quieter west side of the park.  This would be a great way to take an older kid to see what the parks rung trails are all about.  Pair it with a swim at Echo Lake and you have yourself a pretty great way to hike, swim and see the park.  

The trail starts at the end of the parking lot where you will see a trail in the woods to the right of a private residence. The trail follows some stone staircases and boulders as it slowly climbs to the section of ladders and rungs. While the cliff edges are not as exposed, you will need both hands to make your way up some pretty long ladders and traverse some edges along the trail. The short climb takes you to an impressive overlook of Echo Lake below you. You will pass four ladders and a few rungs as you make your way to the overlook. Keep following the trail past the overlook and onto the Canda Cliffs Trail to loop your way around the mountain and back to the Echo Lake parking area. The trail returning down the mountain is an easy walk through the woods, unlike the ladder trail you just ascended.

Trail Stats

Trailhead: Echo Lake Beach parking lot (south end of Echo Lake off of Route 102.  The parking lot is large but maybe packed/busy due to the shared lot with the neighboring Echo Lake swim areas, one of the few swim areas in the park.  

Trail: Beech Cliff Loop and return via Canada Cliffs Trail - as with all the ladder and rung trails, they are recommended to be one-way only and loops taking you down the mountain a different way are always offered.  We followed the Beech Cliff Loop tot he Canada Cliffs Trail to return back to the parking lot without having to go back down the ladders and rungs. 

Distance:  1.8 miles

Elevation:  500' 

Kids:  Yes to older kids who can safely climb longer ladders and grab onto iron rungs.  NO to dogs - they are not allowed on the Beech Cliff Trail and for good reason - it would be very challenging to get them up some of these higher steeper ladders. Dogs are allowed on the other trails that reach the same view point. 

Red Tape:  This trail does have tall ladders and some rungs which are not suitable for dogs or small children.  The trail may be closed in the spring and early summer months due to falcons nesting in the area.  There will be closure signs at the trailhead but it is best to talk to a ranger before heading to this section of the park.  

Other Acadia Hikes

Bee Hive Trail 
Precipice Trail

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