Julie United States 8 Comments

The Beehive Trail is one of the most thrilling hikes in Acadia National Park.

This trail is a tamer, easier version of the Precipice Trail. It features sections of cliff walks and metal rungs, but with less elevation gain and less exposure, this is a good option if you are not quite sure if you can handle the Precipice Trail.

Not only is this hike tons of fun but the views from the summit are incredible. From here, you have panoramic views over the east side of Mt. Desert Island.

Here’s how to do it.

Note: If you have a fear of heights or if you are hiking with young children, skip this hike. Also, do not hike the Beehive Trail in the rain. The granite cliffs and iron rungs get dangerously slippery when it is wet.

Beehive Trail Hiking Stats

Distance: 1.4 mile loop
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation Gain: 450 feet
Length of Time: 1 to 2 hours
When to Go: You can hike this trail in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. During the winter months (November through April), snow and ice make this trail even more dangerous.

Note: Since this is a loop, you can hike this trail in either direction. However, it’s best to do this in a counter-clockwise direction, to keep traffic on the trail moving in the same direction. Plus, it’s easier to climb up the rungs and steep steps than to hike down them.

Beehive Trail Map

Beehive Elevation Profile

Elevation profile (with the shortcut)

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.


How to Hike the Beehive Trail

Step-By-Step Trail Guide

Getting to the Trailhead

Park at the large Sand Beach parking lot. There are restrooms here, as well as beach access and access to several other hiking trails.

To get to the trailhead, cross Park Loop Road. There is a trail that leads from the parking lot to the trailhead. The Beehive Trailhead is marked with a large trail sign.

Beehive Trail Sign

On the Beehive Trail

The first part of the trail is mostly flat. It’s an easy, pretty walk through the forest.

It won’t take long until you get to a fork in the trail. At this sign (see below), take the trail to the right to continue on the Beehive Trail.

Beehive Trail Marker

This is where the climbing, and the fun, begins. It is a relatively short, steep ascent to get to the top of the Beehive. You will climb short staircases, cross a few narrow ledges, and climb the iron rungs that make this hike so thrilling.

The higher you go, the better the view. And really, it doesn’t take long until you are treated to amazing views of Sand Beach and Great Head. Once you are on top of the mountain, enjoy the spectacular view that you worked so hard for.

Here is the climb up to the top of Beehive in photos.

Beehive Trail Steps

Beehive Trail in October

Tim on the Rungs Beehive

Julie on the Rungs

Tim Beehive Steps

Beehive Trail Silhouette

Beehive Trail Acadia NP

Beehive Trail Cliff

Beehive Trail Rungs

Beehive Trail Guide

Tim Rivenbark

Beehive Trail View

View from the top of the Beehive


Acadia in October

Acadia National Park in October

The Return Hike

Now, it is an easy, downhill hike back to sea level. Most of this hike is in the forest, so you no longer get the sweeping views that you had earlier in the hike. But it’s still very nice, and now that you are going downhill, this part of the hike goes by fast.

Acadia Forest

To get back to the Sand Beach parking lot, you can either hike out to the Bowl, a small, lovely lake, or cut the hike short by taking the shortcut through the woods. This hike is 1.4 miles if you include The Bowl and 1.2 miles if you take the shortcut.

Acadia National Park Guide

More Things to Do from Sand Beach Parking Lot

From the Sand Beach parking lot, there are a few more things you can do.

Sand Beach is gorgeous so it’s well worth your time for this very quick and easy view of the beach. It also makes a nice picnic spot. You can also hike the flat, easy trail out to Great Head for more coastal views.

Sand Beach Acadia

Sand Beach

If you are looking for another easy hike, consider walking part of Ocean Path. You can walk to Thunder Hole (2 miles out-and-back) or continue all of the way to Otter Point (4 miles out-and-back). In my opinion, it’s only worth hiking as far as Thunder Hole, since you will drive down to Otter Point as part of the scenic drive along Park Loop Road.

Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole


Acadia Coastline

View along the coastline

Tips to Have the Best Experience

The Sand Beach parking lot is large but it can fill to capacity as early as 10 am during peak season (the summer and fall months, especially on weekends). Try to get here by 10 am to make sure you get a parking space. Plus, the earlier you start the hike, the less crowds you will have on the trail.

If it is wet or raining, or if rain is imminent, do not hike the Beehive Trail. The granite surfaces and the iron rungs will be very slippery in wet conditions.

Wear a good pair of hiking shoes or boots.

Bring sunblock, water, and snacks.

For peak fall colors, plan to visit Acadia National Park between October 8 and October 21. Our photos were taken on October 11.

Check trail conditions before you go.

If you are new to hiking or are curious about what you should bring on a hike, check out our Hiking Gear Guide. Find out what we carry in our day packs and what we wear on the trails.

If you have any questions about hiking the Beehive Trail, let us know in the comment section below. Happy hiking!

More Information about Acadia National Park

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK: Check out our Acadia National Park Travel Guide for important travel information, sample itineraries, and how to plan your visit. For a list of must-have experiences, read our article Best Things to Do in Acadia National Park. Go off the beaten path and explore Isle au Haut.

ACADIA ITINERARY: Plan your perfect visit to Acadia National Park with our Acadia Itinerary Planner.

HIKES IN ACADIA: Check out our article Best Hikes in Acadia for great hikes to add to your to do list. We also have a detailed hiking guide for the Precipice Trail.

MAINE: Don’t miss our article about the best things to do in Cape Elizabeth and our guide to Portland.

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

MORE GREAT HIKES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS: From hikes to the tallest peaks to beautiful coast trails, read our Guide to the Best Day Hikes in the US National Parks. If you prefer to keep your hikes short and sweet, read our guide to the Best Short Hikes in the National Parks.


If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, visit our United States Travel Guide and our Maine Travel Guide for more inspiration and travel planning tips.

Beehive Trail Acadia National Park


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Comments 8

  1. Avatar for Paige Moortgat
    Paige Moortgat


    We are heading up to ANP next week and want to hike the Beehive and Precipice trails along with all the others you listed in your itinerary but especially the beehive and precipice because they look the most challenging and most fun. We have been planning this trip since June using your itinerary. In fact for the last 3 years have used the info from your website to plan a trip to Yellowstone, Tetons, and rocky Mt NP. You guys do a great job. My fear is the National Park will be shut down next week due to the gov’t funding issues. Can we still access these hiking trails and hike in the park? I’m sure the roads or gate will be closed but are these trails accessible by biking in or hiking in?

    1. Avatar for Julie

      Hi Paige. Thanks for writing in again. I answered this on the Precipice Trail post but your timing is good because I’ve looked into this a little bit more. I don’t know what the rules are for entering a national park if the gates are closed. Technically, you could bike to the trailhead, but if they close the park, it may be off limits, even if you could physically walk or bike in. In the 2019 shutdown, some parks stayed open and others closed, so you’ll have to keep checking the NPS website for updates. But the parks that stayed open in 2019 got trashed (since there was less manpower to keep up with trash etc), and then it took lots of time and money to clean them up, so I don’t know if more will close during this shutdown. It’s really bad timing for your trip, but I think the best thing you can do is follow the NPS website for guidance on what to do. I hope things work out for you! Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Heather

    My mom and I are taking a trip for her birthday in late May of 2022. My husband and I love long strenuous hikes, but my mom prefers short, easy hikes due to knee complications. Since the Beehive trail and the ocean path are associated with the same parking spot, I considered doing this hike alone while my mom relaxed on Sand beach. Do you think this trail would be safe to hike alone (I’m sure there will be other hikers around mid-May around noon) or would it be best to save this hike for another trip?

    1. Avatar for Julie

      Hello Heather. I think it would be fine to do this hike solo, and yes, there is a very good chance that there will be other hikers on the trail at the same time. It’s a really fun hike so I say go for it! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Gabby F
    Gabby F

    This looks awesome, we’re going to try it this weekend coming up! Do we need to purchase a parking pass to park at Sand Beach parking lot? This will be the only trail we’ll have time for on this trip but I have a feeling we’ll be back. TIA

    1. Avatar for Julie
  4. Avatar for Matt of Canada
    1. Avatar for Julie

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