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
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.
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.
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.
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.
View from the top of the Beehive
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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