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7 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park With the Biggest Payoffs

7 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park With the Biggest Payoffs

In April 2022, Acadia National Park’s trail system was added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to the National Park Service, “The listing recognizes the 109 historic, maintained trails which cover 117 miles and include 18 memorial plaques, 12 viewpoints, and unique engineering features. The listing includes trails that extend outside the park boundary on Mount Desert Island.” This positions Acadia National Park as having some of the best hikes. 

Kevin Schneider, Superintendent of Acadia National Park, explains the significance of this recognition: “Acadia National Park now has the largest system of trails to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition is a testament to not only the historic significance of these trails, but also the incredible dedication of the National Park Service staff, partners, and volunteers who continue to preserve them.”

This area is well-known for its stunning coastline and beautiful sunrises. Visitors flock to this park every year to experience its scenery. So let’s look at the best hikes in Acadia National Park so you can explore this national treasure and see for yourself the history of the area.

View of the Maine coastline at Acadia National park.
Hiking in Acadia National Park offers challenging trails and scenic views.

Acadia National Park is a Hiker’s Paradise

With over 150 miles of trails, Acadia National Park is a bucket list item for many travelers. The views are spectacular, with opportunities to see forested areas, rocky coastline, pristine lakes, and mountain peaks. Sometimes you can even see all of these things in one epic hike.

However, with the rugged terrain comes many miles of trails inaccessible by wheelchair. They’re also quite challenging and designed for the avid hiker. But with so many miles of trails, there’s a loop or out-and-back hike for every visitor to Acadia National Park.

Hiking Beehive Trail- Acadia National Park- Best Day Hike in Acadia

7 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park With the Biggest Payoffs

If you’re looking to experience breathtaking views that capture the essence of Maine, these are the best hikes in Acadia National Park. All but one are either moderate or hard, but don’t let that deter you.

If a hike gets too challenging, you can always turn back. Once you get to the summit of Cadillac Mountain or the overlooks with views of Frenchman Bay or the Schoodic Peninsula, you’ll be stunned by the beauty of the northeast coastline.

1. The Beehive Loop Trail

The Beehive Loop Trail has been given 4.8/5 stars on AllTrails with over 5,100 reviews. It’s considered challenging and will take close to an hour to complete at a steady pace. It’s quite popular and offers beautiful views of the beach and ocean. The narrow trail and steep edges near the Beehive can be troublesome for younger children, so approach this area with caution. There’s a 508 ft gain in elevation during the hike. No dogs are allowed.

Hike Length: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Hard

How to Get There: Use the Newport Cove Parking Lot for Sand Beach. Shuttle buses run to and from this location, and you’ll also have access to restrooms. Walk back up the road a bit to the trailhead.

Woman sitting at lookout point after hiking in Acadia National Park
Head to Acadia National Park for sweeping views that will leave you speechless!

2. Jordan Pond Path

The Jordan Pond Path has been given 4.5/5 stars on AllTrails with almost 3,000 reviews. This loop will take a little over an hour to complete and culminates with stunning scenery at the pristine Jordan Pond. On the west side, you’ll have to do some rock scrambling, but the east side is an easy hike.

Along the trail, you’ll have waypoints at the bridge, beach, and pond. There are also restrooms available. There are beautiful views and unique boardwalks throughout, but expect some foot traffic as this trail is popular for hikers and birders. Bring your dogs on a leash.

Hike Length: 3.1 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

How to Get There: Follow Park Loop Road to the north and south parking lots at Jordan Pond. If you can’t find parking, drive to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and take the Island Explorer Bus towards the pond.

Pro Tip: Acadia National Park isn’t the only national park option in Maine. Learn more about What Are The Best Maine National Parks?

Pets must be on a leash sign on hiking trail.
Most hikes in Acadia National Park can be completed with your pets as long as they are on a leash.

3. Gorham Mountain Loop

This trail has been given 4.5/5 stars on AllTrails with over 2,400 reviews. The loop will take about an hour and a half to complete and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic shoreline. Hikers will traverse over the ledges of Gorham Mountain, cross over to the Sand Beach Parking lot, and hike past the crashing waves of Thunder Hole.

The trail is open year-round, but make sure to wear proper footwear in the winter because of the rocky ledges. Also, prepare to do a bit of bouldering along the hike. There’s a 583 ft gain in elevation, and the mountain summit overlooks Newport Cove and Sand Beach. Bring your dogs on a leash.

Hike Length: 3.0 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

How To Get There: Try to arrive early as the parking lot at Sand Beach fills up quickly, especially in the summertime. Follow the trail up the south ridge of Gorham Mountain. You can also park at the Gorham Mountain parking lot. Look for a large stump with a Gorham Mountain trail carved into it.

4. Cadillac North Ridge Trail

Cadillac North Ridge Trail has been given 4.6/5 stars on AllTrails with over 2,700 reviews. Whereas April to October is the best time to hike the Beehive Loop Trail and Jordan Pond Path, this trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.

This out-and-back trail will take about two hours and 10 minutes to complete. There’s a 1,128 ft gain in elevation from start to finish. You’ll climb to the highest point in Acadia National Park. Because of the views of the Schoodic Peninsula and Frenchman Bay, this trail is a popular sunrise and sunset destination for visitors. Bring your dogs on a leash.

Hike Length: 4.2 miles

Difficulty: Hard

How to Get There: Park off Eagle Lake Road at the park entrance. From there, walk through the gate and over a bridge to the Kebo Brook Trail. There’s a sign to the start of the Cadillac North Ridge Trail after you walk the Kebo Brook Trail for a bit.

acadia national park coastline
View of the Maine coastline at Acadia National park.

5. Precipice Loop

This trail has been given 4.8/5 stars on AllTrails with almost 2,300 reviews. This loop will take about an hour and a half to complete and climbs 1,053 ft to the summit of Champlain Mountain using iron rungs and ladders at times. The trail is very steep and travels long exposed cliffs but offers stunning views of Acadia National Park, including Frenchman’s Bay to the Schoodic Peninsula.

Note that this trail is subject to closure due to falcon nesting from mid-April to mid-July. Check the National Park Service website for more information. No dogs are allowed on this one, so leave them at home.

Hike Length: 2.1 miles

Difficulty: Hard

How to Get There: From Hulls Cove Visitor Center, take the park road to the one-way loop road. Turn left just before the road to the top of Cadillac Mountain. The Precipice Parking Area is before the East Entrance Station on the right. This is part of Acadia National Park, so make sure to have your park pass visible.

6. Ocean Path Trail

Ocean Path Trail has been given 4.5/5 stars on AllTrails with over 1,600 reviews. This out-and-back trail will take close to two hours to complete. It’s open year-round and always offers beautiful scenic views. There’s only a slight change in elevation of 384 ft from start to finish. The 2.2 miles are mostly flat up to Otter Point.

There are numerous overlooks, including access points to Thunder Hole, Otter Cliff, and Monument Cove. You can also jump onto other trails along the way for a more challenging hike. Bring your dogs on a leash.

Hike Length: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

How to Get There: Park at the Sand Beach parking lot along the Park Loop Road. Follow the stairs above Sand Beach and follow the trail up to the road and down the coast.

Again, the Sand Beach lot routinely fills up quickly. If there is no parking available, try to find a spot in the right-hand lane of Park Loop Road.

Man with backpack hiking in Acadia National Park.
While many trails in Acadia are for more advanced hikers, there are still options for novice hikers and families with children.

7. Cadillac South Ridge Trail

This trail has been given 4.6/5 stars on AllTrails with over 1,400 reviews. This out-and-back trail will take over three hours to complete and ends on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. It’s one of the longest stretches on Mount Desert Island.

Along the hike, there’s a small pond, The Featherbed, with a wooden bench if you need to take a break. If you want to extend your hike, you can jump on Eagles Crag Trail. The views along the way are breathtaking, and a sunrise or sunset at Cadillac Mountain can’t be beaten.

You can bring your dogs on a leash. However, due to this trail’s rocky, steep nature, your dog may find it difficult to traverse.

Hike Length: 6.7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

How to Get There: There is a parking lot near the Blackwoods Campground. If you’re staying onsite, you can also access the trail directly from the campground.

Pro Tip: After hiking, you’ll need some rest and relaxation time on the beach! Head to one of these Top 10 Beaches in Maine.

Three friends enjoying the sunrise in Acadia National Park
Always remain on marked trails when hiking through Acadia National Park.

Are There Easy Hikes in Acadia?

The Ocean Path Trail is definitely the easiest trail on this list. If you’re traveling with younger children or want a trail the whole family will enjoy, this is your best choice.

Because of the nature of Acadia National Park, most hikes will be more challenging. The rocky terrain, exposed cliffs, and steep inclines are all part of what makes this part of the United States unique and beautiful.

Is It Safe to Hike Acadia National Park?

There are over 150 miles of trails within Acadia National Park. Some of the trails are quite difficult and aren’t for the once-in-a-while hiker. Make sure to pay attention to park maps or check out the topography on the National Park Service website before venturing out.

Some of the trails, like the Beehive Loop, have very narrow edges with steep drop-offs that aren’t suitable for children. Numerous trails require at least a limited amount of rock scrambling. And then the Precipice Loop has the iron rungs and ladders. So is it safe to hike in Acadia National Park?

As long as you know your limitations and approach each trail with caution, you should be safe. Always remain on the marked trails and don’t venture off to unmarked territory.

10 Things to Do in Acadia National Park!

Which of These Hikes Will Be Your Next Adventure? 

These seven hikes offer amazing views and beautiful scenic overlooks. They each have their own uniqueness that captures the beauty of Acadia National Park. If you’re an avid hiker, you have your pick of some challenging hikes with huge payoffs. If you’re just a mom or dad looking to take your kids on a stroll through the area, stick to the Ocean Path Trail, and you’ll still get some fantastic views. 

So of these seven best hikes in Acadia National Park, which trail will you be tackling when you visit? Tell us in the comments!

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