Julie United States 40 Comments

Acadia National Park is filled with an amazing variety of hiking trails. From easy strolls along coastal paths to summit climbs to thrilling cliff walks, there is something here for everyone.

One of the things that makes Acadia so unique, and so exciting, is the large number of trails with ladders and metal rungs. Similar to a via ferrata, you can hike along narrow ledges and climb up sheer rock faces with the aid of these metal rungs. There are a number of trails on this list that feature ladders and iron rungs, some more hair-raising than others.

If defying gravity on a cliff trail is not for you, keep your feet on solid ground and hike to the summit of a mountain or stroll along the coast.

Most of the trails on this list are 3 miles long or shorter, so it is possible to hike several of these trails, even if you only have a day or two in Acadia National Park.

Here are 10 blockbuster hikes in Acadia National Park. This is not an all-inclusive list, but there is enough here to keep you busy for days.

Note: All hiking distances are round trip unless stated otherwise.

Best Hikes in Acadia

Precipice Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles
Length of Time: 1.5 to 3 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous, challenging

This is, without a doubt, the most thrilling, and the most dangerous hike in Acadia National Park.

With rock scrambling, several sections of cliff walks (with some of these at a very high elevation), and lots of exposure, you need to have a good head for heights in order to do this hike.

Precipice Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia

Precipice Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia

From the parking lot on the Park Loop Road, it’s a strenuous climb to the summit of Champlain Mountain. In less than one mile, you will ascend over 1,000 feet. You’ll rock scramble, crawl under boulders larger than your car, and climb up series after series of metal rungs. At times, you will be walking along cliffs that are only a few feet wide.

Best Hikes in Acadia Precipice

Precipice Trail Hike | Best Hikes in Acadia

This was our favorite hike in Acadia National Park. Not only is this hike tons of fun, but the views from the trail and the summit of Champlain Mountain are spectacular.

This hike is dangerous. People have fallen and died from the Precipice Trail, so this hike is not to be underestimated. In order to do this hike, you should have prior hiking experience and a good head for heights. This hike is not recommended for small kids or if it is wet or raining. The granite surfaces are extremely slippery and dangerous when wet.

How to Do This: You can hike the Precipice Trail out-and-back, but for safety reasons it is best to turn this into a loop hike. From the Precipice Trail trailhead on Park Loop Road, take the Precipice Trail to the Champlain Summit. At the summit, take the Champlain North Ridge Trail to the Orange & Black Path to the parking lot.

Beehive Trail

Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 1 to 2 hours

If you are looking for a thrilling hike with an awesome view, this is one of the best hikes in Acadia to put on your to-do list.

This trail is a tamer, easier version of the Precipice Trail. The Beehive Trail also 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.

However, as you can see in our photos, there are sections of narrow cliff ledges and non-technical climbs up metal rungs. If you have a fear of heights or are hiking with young kids, skip this hike.

The Beehive Trail is located just a short distance south of the Precipice Trail but the views are a lot different. Now, you look out over Sand Beach and Great Head.

Beehive Trail Acadia | Best Hikes in Acadia

Beehive Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia


Iron Rungs Acadia | Best Hikes in Acadia

Beehive Trail Acadia Hike

Beehive Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia

How to Do This: From the parking lot at Sand Beach, hike the Bowl Trail to the Beehive Trail. After you summit Beehive, you will hike past The Bowl on the way back to the parking lot.

Ocean Path

Distance: 4 miles out-and-back; about 2 miles out-and-back from Sand Beach to Thunder Hole
Difficulty: Easy
Length of Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours

This easy walk from Sand Beach to Otter Point is one of Acadia’s most popular walks. It’s flat, it’s easy, and along the entire walk you have wonderful coastline views. Thunder Hole, a spot where the waves hit the rocks just right to create a thundering sound, is one of the highlights.

Most of this trail sits alongside Park Loop Road, so at times, you will have better views of the cars on the road than of coastal cliffs. For this reason, we thought that this hike was just OK.

Ocean Path Acadia

Ocean Path | Best Hikes in Acadia


Best Hikes in Acadia Ocean Path | Best Hikes in Acadia

It is possible to see the highlights along the Ocean Path (Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs), without hiking this trail, by driving Park Loop Road and stopping at these viewpoints. Just expect BIG crowds midday. This is an extremely popular area in Acadia National Park.

Cadillac Summit Loop Trail

Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Getting Here: This short loop starts at the parking lot on the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

Short, easy, and offering some of the best views of Acadia National Park, this is a great hike for everyone. From this trail, you get panoramic views over the park, Bar Harbor, and the numerous small islands that are scattered across the ocean.

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Summit Loop Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia


Cadillac Mountain Summit | Best Hikes in Acadia

Cadillac Summit Loop Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Due to its location and height, Cadillac Mountain is one of the first spots in the United States to view the sunrise, making this Acadia National Park’s most popular sunrise spot. Reservations are required to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain from the end of May through mid-October. Visit the national park service website for more information.

US National Parks List

South Bubble Trail

Distance: 1 to 4 miles, depending on the route you choose
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 1.5 to 3 hours

For one of the best views over Jordan Pond, hike to the top of South Bubble.

The “Bubbles” are two small mountains that sit side by side at the north end of Jordan Pond. South Bubble, with its exposed granite face, offers amazing views from the summit. You also can see Bubble Rock, an enormous granite boulder that precariously sits on the edge of a cliff.

Best Hikes in Acadia South Bubble | Best Hikes in Acadia

South Bubble Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia


Bubble Rock Acadia

How to Do This: This can be done as a short, strenuous, round-trip hike from The Bubbles parking lot (1-mile round trip on the Bubbles Divide Trail). The Bubbles parking lot (not to be confused with the Bubble Pond parking lot) is a small lot located on Park Loop Road just north of Jordan Pond. The Bubbles parking lot is not on Google maps but it is located where the Bubbles Divide Trail intersects Park Loop Road. Alternatively, park at Jordan Pond and hike either the Jordan Pond Path or the Jordan Cliffs Trail to the north side of Jordan Pond. Then take the Bubbles Divide Trail to South Bubble and Bubble Rock. More on these alternatives below.

Jordan Pond Path

Distance: 3.3 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Length of Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

This easy hiking path does a full loop around Jordan Pond. It’s flat and it’s easy so it’s great for all ages and ability levels.

Once finished the hike, visit the Jordan House Restaurant and dine on their legendary popovers.

Jordan Pond Path | Best Hikes in Acadia

Jordan Pond Path | Best Hikes in Acadia


Acadia in October

Jordan Pond Path | Best Hikes in Acadia

Jordan Cliffs Trail

For another spot to enjoy amazing views over Jordan Pond, plus the chance to hike along narrow ledges with the aid of iron rungs, put the Jordan Cliffs Trail on your list.

From the Jordan Pond House, it is a steep, strenuous climb up to the highest point of the trail, but once up here, the views are beautiful. Due to the difficult nature of this trail and the exposed ledges, the Jordan Cliffs Trail tends to be less crowded than the easier Jordan Pond Path. So, if you like the idea of taking a break from the crowds but still visit Jordan Pond, this hike is nice option.

Jordan Cliffs Trail

Jordan Cliffs Steps

Jordan Pond

View from the Jordan Cliffs Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia

The Jordan Cliffs Trail can be combined with several other trails in the area.

Jordan Cliffs + Jordan Pond Path

A relatively short, scenic option is to take the Spring Trail from the Jordan Pond House, hike the Jordan Cliffs Trail, and return to the Jordan Pond House via the Jordan Pond Path.

Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours

Jordan Cliffs + South Bubble + Jordan Pond Path

How about combining three trails into one?

Take the Spring Trail from the Jordan Pond House, hike the Jordan Cliffs Trail to the Bubbles Divide Trail, and enjoy the view from South Bubble. To get back to the Jordan Pond House, hike down the South Bubble Trail to the Jordan Pond Path.

Tim and I did this and loved it. It is a tough hike, with two strenuous climbs and one very steep descent down the South Bubble Trail, so this hike can trash your quads. But you get to enjoy the view over Jordan Pond from two different vantage points, hike along narrow ledges, and finish the hike off with an easy, leisurely stroll along Jordan Pond. Plus, once you are finished, you can eat all the popovers you like!

Distance: 4.8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 2.5 to 4 hours

Acadia National Park Guide

Dorr Mountain via the Ladder Trail

Distance: 3.4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 3 to 4 hours

From the peak of Dorr Mountain, you get spectacular views over Acadia National Park, or so we have heard. Unfortunately, low-lying clouds covered the peak of Dorr Mountain during our hike, so we never got to see the views that so many others have raved about. However, on the hike back down to sea level, while on the Dorr South Ridge Trail, we had beautiful views of the park.

Ladder Trail will make your thighs scream. It is essentially one massive stair climb to the top with a few ladders thrown in, just to keep things interesting. It is important to pace yourself at the beginning of this hike because it is challenging. Tim and I thought that this was one of the toughest climbs we did in Acadia National Park.

Acadia Hiking Trail

Start of the Ladder Trail


Ladder Trail

Dorr Ladder

Dorr Mountain Summit

Dorr Mountain | Best Hikes in Acadia


Dorr Mountain View

View from Dorr Mountain | Best Hikes in Acadia

We both liked this hike, but we thought that views from Cadillac Mountain, Champlain Mountain, and Beech Cliffs (mentioned next) were better. However, this seems to be a low traffic trail, so if you don’t mind a brutal stair climb and want a break from the crowds, this is one to consider.

How to Do This: Hike the Ladder Trail to the summit of Dorr Mountain. Take the Dorr South Ridge Trail and enjoy the views of the coastline. Once on the Canon Brook Trail, the hike is flat and easy and gorgeous in October. Our favorite part of the hike was seeing the two small ponds in the Gorge, not far from the Dorr Mountain Trailhead.

Acadia Fall Colors

Beech Cliff Ladder Trail

Distance: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

This is a trail that beat our expectations. This hike has a little bit of everything: iron rungs and ladders, scenic views over lakes and the coastline, and brief cliff walks. It’s not quite as hair-raising as Precipice or Beehive, so this is a nice option if you are looking for a thrill without the danger of these other cliff trails. Plus, we saw very few people on this trail, a nice bonus.

Beech Cliffs Ladders

Beech Cliff Ladder Trail | Best Hikes in Acadia


Best Hikes in Acadia

On this hike, you get one of the best views of Acadia National Park, especially in autumn.


Echo Lake Acadia

How to Do This: Park at the Echo Lake Beach Entrance. Take the Beech Cliffs Trail to the summit, a short but strenuous climb to the summit of Beech Mountain. Once here, the views are amazing. The highlight is the short but sweet Beech Cliff Loop, where you get the best views of the day. There are some exposed sections here, but the cliffs are wide and if you have a fear of heights, you can stand far enough away from the edge and still enjoy the view. Hike the Canada Cliffs Trail back to the Echo Lake Beach Parking Lot.

Sundew Trail (Schoodic Peninsula)

Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Length of Time: 1 to 1.5 hours

This hike is located on Schoodic Peninsula, a spot that is famous for its dramatic coastline. If you plan to drive or take the ferry out here to see the peninsula, why not throw in a short but scenic hike?

This easy to walk loop trail features coastal views and trails through a dense, fragrant forest. On a clear day, you can see across the bay to Mount Desert Island and Cadillac Mountain.

Schoodic Peninsula

Schoodic Peninsula | Best Hikes in Acadia

The Sundew Trail is a pleasant walk, but in my opinion, it is not worth traveling here just for this hike. However, if you already have plans to visit Schoodic Peninsula, this hike is nice addition to your day.

Best Hikes in Acadia: Our Recommendations

Hikes with the Best Views

  • Cadillac Summit Trail
  • Dorr Mountain
  • Precipice Trail
  • Beehive Trail

Most Adventurous Trails

  • Precipice Trail
  • Beehive Trail
  • Jordan Cliffs Trail
  • Beech Cliffs to Canada Cliffs

Leave the Crowds Behind

  • Isle au Haut (this remote island is home to a very underrated hike in Acadia National Park)
  • Beech Cliffs to Canada Cliffs
  • Dorr Mountain via the Ladder Trail
  • Sundew Trail (Schoodic Peninsula)

Best Hikes in Acadia for Families

  • Jordan Pond Loop
  • Schoodic Peninsula
  • Ocean Path

Our Favorite Hikes in Acadia

  • Precipice Trail
  • Beehive Trail
  • South Bubble Trail
  • Beech Cliffs to Canada Cliffs
  • Jordan Pond Path

About Our Visit and These Gorgeous Fall Colors

We visited Acadia National Park in October 2019. Tim and I spent three full days in the park, from October 11 to 13. During our visit, the fall colors were considered to be “high,” with 50 to 70% of the trees displaying fall colors. This is based on the fall foliage report on the Maine Foliage website.

For coastal Maine, including Acadia National Park, mid-October is generally when fall colors are at their peak. However, this does vary from year to year, based on weather conditions. For the past five years, fall colors were at their peak anywhere from October 8 to October 21.

Get the fall foliage report here.

Kara returned to Maine in July 2023, visiting Isle au Haut, a remote island home to a portion of Acadia National Park. For those who want to visit a quieter side of Acadia National Park, take a look at our Guide to Isle au Haut.

Hike Acadia | Best Hikes in Acadia

Tim on the Beehive Trail

More Information

Visit the National Park Service website for more information on hikes in Acadia, as well as to check trail status and get important updates. Some trails, such as the Precipice Trail and Jordan Cliffs, can close during peregrine falcon nesting season (usually from the end of March through mid-July).

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.

Our Guide to Acadia National Park

Don’t miss our complete Guide to Acadia National Park. Learn about the best things to do, how to plan your time, where to eat, where to stay, and much more. 

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Bar Harbor Inn in Bar Harbor. This is a big property with a beautiful setting right on the coast. From the Bar Harbor Inn, it is less than a five-minute walk to the shops and restaurants in the center of town. If you book a room with a view, you can look out at the harbor or the islands that sit just off the coast. The Bar Harbor Inn also has a spa, heated outdoor pool with hot tub, and one of the highest rated restaurants in town, The Reading Room. To get into Acadia National Park, it is a ten-minute drive.

Comment below if you have any questions about the best hikes in Acadia National Park or if you want to share your favorite hike.

More Information about Acadia National Park

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK: For a list of must-have experiences, read our article Best Things to Do in Acadia National Park. Go off the beaten path in Acadia and explore Isle au Haut.

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

NATIONAL PARKS BY SEASON: Acadia National Park appears in our Best National Parks in June, Best National Parks in September, and Best National Parks in October articles. For more information about the best times to visit the national parks, check out our Best National Parks Month-by-Month Guide.

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.

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


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.


Acadia Best Hikes in the Park


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Comments 40

  1. Avatar for XIOMARA

    Great article!. My family and I just got back from Acadia and we loved it. You guide was so helpful. We knew where to stay and the best hikes thanks to your article.
    I am planning a trip to Ireland next year, I will for sure used your blog again.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Sean

    Thank y’all very much for this guide. My family and I just returned from a four-day trip to Acadia, and your trail advice was spot on. Thanks to a jam-packed, and brief, visit, we were only able to hike The Beehive and the Beech Cliffs Ladders Trails, but both were bucket list hikes. And just as you mentioned, the Beech Cliffs offered incredible views with far, far fewer crowds than on the east side of the island! We can’t wait to go back and do more of the hikes you suggested. Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Sean. Thanks for writing in! I’m glad you were able to get a few hikes in on your visit to Acadia. Hopefully you can get back to Acadia soon! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for RJ

    Thanks for this list. There is one thing I wish you’d make a little clearer. On the Beech Cliffs Ladder Trail section above, you indicated that the Canadian Cliffs trail will take you back to the Echo Lake parking lot. It does not do that.

    We did this trail today based on your recommendation. The Canadian Cliff does not lead back to Echo Lake. It ends close to the Beech Mountain Parking lot. You have to follow the trail back to the Beech Mountain Parking Lot then take the first right onto the Beech Mountain loop then head east back to the Beech Clifs Ladder trail and go back down. There is no loop that goes back to the Echo Lake Parking lot.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Thanks for writing in. It looks like you hiked a spur trail to the Beech Mountain Trail Head, rather than hiking the Canadian Cliffs Trail, as mentioned in this guide. You can see the map of the Beech Cliffs Ladder Trail and Canadian Cliffs Trail on Google and on All Trails. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Zach

    Thank you so much for this article and your entire website. I am finding it very helpful for planning an upcoming weekend in Acadia with my children. Just curious, why didn’t any hikes from the base to the summit of Cadillac Mountain make your list?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We had so many hikes on our list and just a few days. We figured that since you can drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, that was the best use of our time, and allowed us to do everything else on this list. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Koren

    Great article! We just got back and loved every hike in Acadia! I think beehive was more challenging than precipice, but definitely shorter. I absolutely loved the Jordan cliff trail, the absolute best views! We got to the park around 8-8:30 and had no issue parking, although the first day we got there around 11 am and drove around looking for parking for a while.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  6. Avatar for Akhil

    Do you think any of the hikes that will take up top of a hill for a good view that are pet friendly? I have a german shepard/poodle mix, she can do some intense hikes, unless its beyond a dogs abilities(ladders/cliffs etc.)

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Usually, dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in the US national parks. I recommend checking the Acadia National Park Service website for more information. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Juliana
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  8. Avatar for Teri

    Did you ride bikes on the Carriage roads? If so, can I have some information on that. I was wondering how much time I should allot for that.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      No, we did not ride bikes on the Carriage Roads. As far as how much time it takes, it really depends on how much you want to explore them and if you want to hike or see things along the way. It can take a few hours to most of the day. Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Amy Scroggs
    Amy Scroggs

    I want to try to hike beehive but I do have a bit of a fear of heights. We went to the Mighty 5 back in May & I was able to do Delicate arch & Cassidy arch but stopped at Scout’s Lookout rather then continuing on up to Angels. I can go up but have a hard time coming back down from high places so I’m wondering since that trail loops to a calmer descent if I could suck it up and do it. Advice?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      The most exposure happens on the hike up to the summit. From the summit, it’s an easy walk through the woods back to the parking lot so that won’t be an issue. The question is if you can handle the exposure on the hike up. We have lots of photos in this post to help you know what to expect. But basically, if you get to the summit, no worries at all coming back down. Cheers, Julie

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