Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Beehive and Precipice | Acadia National Park 2017 part II | Maine

Note the iron rungs on the rock behind my head. The trail continues when you climb up them

Here I am with the second installment of my mini-vacation to Acadia National Park back in early October. I can only imagine how the landscape must look in the full blaze of autumn. Can you imagine sitting on this cliff overlooking a flaming red, orange, and yellow pit of foliage below? I tried to imagine that, and I imagine it would feel as if I were escaping from the pits of Hell. But the leaves were just barely beginning to turn when we went, and I can only imagine.

At Acadia, we went on two steep, strenuous hikes. All of us were fairly in shape and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but I would caution against anyone not accustomed to hiking, or hiking with improper footwear. The first of these hikes was the Beehive Loop, which has an elevation gain of 534 ft over about half a mile (the loop is 1.3 miles long, but the descent is much, much milder). Short and very sweet, with gorgeous views of the land and the sea. I deliberately did not include any photos that included the big cruise ship.

It is me

Beehive consists of a steep ascent from the forest floor up the side of a cliff, with narrow, rocky, and steep switchbacks and sections of ladders with little thin iron rungs. In this picture, I am cautiously lowering myself to sit down. It's a straight drop from there.

Don't look down. Or look down and try to spot the cairns

Barely getting started. The trailhead is at the elevation of the road, with a mild ascent to the cairns in the exposed rock at the upper right quadrant.

I read that this trail is reminiscent of ferrata hiking in Europe, which sounds very appealing and exciting.

This was about as summit as it got, and I admit that the views were not as awesome as I would have hoped for. But in this hike, the journey is the fun! We were a large group on this hike, and passed two families. It's a popular, but congested trail and we sped through it to thin out the group. I wish we could have been a smaller group and taken it a bit slower.

Next, we went along the ocean trail to check out the local wonder, the Thunder Hole (kind of cool, and the ocean trail was pretty cool).

As you can see, there were plenty of these jumbles of boulders to climb up and over, which we did with glee.

Climbed up high to get a view of the shore. The rock is an orange-ish color.

Another deceptive photo -- I am about 20 ft above the shore

The Thunder Hole was crowded with people and not worth photographing.

Down to Precipice!!

On the second and last day of the trip, we hiked the Precipice Trail, for which Beehive was the warmup. This was the coolest hike I've done in New England. In a half mile ascent, we went up 1072 ft, double that of Beehive in almost the same distance. Very steep. Very thrilling. I'm getting riled up just thinking about Precipice.

Shortly after we began the hike, we came upon the first challenge: a huge tumble of boulders to scramble up and over. Need I say it again? I love scrambles. This was just a taste of what was to come.

What was great about Precipice was that this trail essentially took us up the side of a cliff, meaning the views were always there, and getting better by the moment.

The first of the ladders. There were more than double the amount of ladders on Precipice than Beehive. After this point, it was steep, steep, steep all the way up. If you get to this point and find yourself exhausted, it is safer to turn back.

Interestingly, Precipice is closed for significant parts of the year for peregrine falcon nesting. We were lucky to come here when we did!

A rare flat stretch...and a precarious drop

Regrettably, I didn't take too many photos of the truly steep portions. The simple truth is that there wasn't really a place where I felt safe to do it. Between this photo and the last were crazy steep and narrow switchbacks, long ladders, and mere inches of rock between us hikers and a deadly fall. Admittedly, we were on a tight schedule and really booked it up the mountain (recommended at least 2 hours for an ascent, but we got up there in 1.5). We were exposed, exhausted, and I don't think my heartrate has ever been higher.

I admit, I had a dangerous light-headed moment when I was clinging for dear life on a ladder on an exposed cliff face, and looked over my shoulder.

But this photo is cool. I scampered up to the next highest boulder to take a picture of my friends seemingly emerging from the depth of the mountain.

The summit!

The views were worth all the effort.

There are a few other trails -- longer, less steep -- that lead up the mountain. But I was very happy we picked this one. How much more thrill could you pack into half a mile?

We took a long descent that still managed to be tough on the ankles and knees, but that's New England hiking for you. Here is a photo of the cliff from the parking lot. How exhilarating it was to climb up that exposed rock. It was the highlight of the trip.


  1. Wow, the views are amazing! It sounds like a difficult hike - I'm afraid of heights and also in poor physical shape so I don't think I could've made that. It looks well worth it though.

    1. Afraid of heights would definitely be an issue. This was the most vertigo-inducing hike I've been on. And we went out for ice cream afterwards so it was a great day all around.