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Top Hikes Acadia National Park: Ultimate Hiking Guide by Difficulty

Planning a hike can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially when it comes to choosing the right trail and understanding its difficulty level.

Without proper guidance, hikers can find themselves on a trail that is too challenging or not suitable for their skill level. This can lead to frustration, potential injuries, and a disappointing hiking experience. My hand is raised – I've been there before!

That's why our ultimate hiking guide of the Top Hikes in Acadia National Park, which is near Bar Harbor, Maine, is here to help. We've carefully ranked the 15 best trails based on difficulty, giving you a clear understanding of what to expect before you hit the trail. Plus, we provide detailed information on key areas of concern for each trail, ensuring you're well-prepared and confident in your hiking choices. Say goodbye to guesswork and hello to an incredible hiking adventure.

Spoiler alert: Beehive Trail is one of the most sought-after hiking trails in Acadia National Park and we have it listed below. It's considered a moderate hike, but many think it actually belongs in the hard hike section due to the steep inclines, rock scrambling, rock cliffs, and iron rungs. What do you think?

This stunningly beautiful park and the surrounding areas offer some of the best hiking trails in the country. With miles and miles of trails to explore, it can be hard to narrow down your choices.

To help make your decision easier, there are 15 top hikes in Acadia National Park and the surrounding area from the Schoodic Peninsula and Mount Desert Island, all grouped by difficulty.

Top Hikes Acadia National Park Summary for Each Trail Hikes

You'll find a summary for each of the top hikes that include the following:

  • Difficulty
  • Elevation Gain
  • Distance of the hiking trail
  • Approximately how long it will take you to complete the hike
  • Where do you park (maps included)
  • Can you bring your dog on this trail
  • Is it buggy and how to prepare
  • What's the terrain like on the hiking trail
  • What you'll see and places of interest along the way
  • Safety concerns and warnings
  • Best time to hike the trail

We've also included all the things you need to pack in your backpack, what to wear, and how to stay safe along the way.

So grab your day pack, lather on some sunscreen, and let's hit the hiking trails!

Important safety reminder: Remember to always understand your limits with hiking and get to know the trail before you go. Assess the terrain and weather conditions before you set out and prepare accordingly. Using a paper map is always best to take with you since cell service can be spotty. The Acadia National Park Trails map is a great map to bring along with you.

Don't forget your entrance pass into Acadia National Park. You can purchase the National Park pass on Recreation.gov or purchase it at the park itself.

Located on Mount Desert Island

Acadia National Park is on Mount Desert Island in Maine, home of Bar Harbor and the majority of the park's best hiking trails.

*This post may contain affiliate links whereas recommended products/services have met my “I love it” criteria; refer to our affiliate policy.

Mount Desert Island, the crown jewel of Acadia National Park, is a haven for nature enthusiasts. It's brimming with points of interest for those who love to explore.

The vibrant town of Bar Harbor is another must-see. This bustling seaside town offers lively harbor cruises, amazing restaurants, and coffee shops, and is super dog friendly.

Easy Hikes Acadia National Park

Easy hikes in Acadia National Park are characterized by their relatively flat terrain, easy elevation gain, and shorter distances, typically under 3 miles roundtrip. Such hiking trails are perfect for beginner hikers, families with young children, or those looking for a leisurely walk in nature rather than an intense workout.

These trails often have well-marked paths and require minimal navigation skills, making them safe and accessible for all ages and fitness levels. Despite being labeled as ‘easy', these trails still offer beautiful views, plenty of wildlife sightings, and an immersive experience in nature.

Ocean Path Trail

Located inside Acadia National Park and spanning a comfortable 4.5-mile round trip along the ocean coastline, the Ocean Path Trail is one of Acadia National Park's most popular and awe-inspiring hikes. Now you know how it gets its name. It's an easy trail even with its 4.5 miles.

Ocean Path Trail hike in Acadia National Park
Ocean Path Trail hike in Acadia National Park

It's an absolute must-do for any visitor.

The trail, which stretches from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff, offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, the Atlantic Ocean, and the majestic surrounding woodland.

As you wander along the path, the harmonious symphony of crashing waves, rustling leaves, and melodic bird songs create an unforgettable auditory experience to match the visual spectacle.

Since this is such a popular trail and area it can get very crowded early, it's best to get there as early as you can to beat the crowd.

However, it's important to note that the trail's beauty comes with a caution: the cliffs. While they offer spectacular views, they can also be quite dangerous. Always keep a safe distance from the cliff edges to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the Ocean Path Trail.

Trail Parking

This is a pretty busy area since the Ocean Path trail is located next to Park Loop Road where you'll find several parking lots along the trail. Keep in mind that many of these spaces fill up quickly due to the trail's popularity, so arrive early if you want your pick.

Ocean Path Trail Parking at Otter Point in Acadia National Park
Ocean Path Trail Parking at Otter Point in Acadia National Park

Since this hiking trail is an out-and-back, then you can park at any of these parking lots and then walk back to your car when you’re done with the hike. The hiking trail starts at Sand Beach spanning to Otter Cliff which both have parking lots located near these trailheads.

Sand Beach parking for the Ocean Path Trail hike
Sand Beach parking for the Ocean Path Trail hike

The local bus stop, Island Explorer, also runs along Park Loop Road and can provide transportation between these areas as well.

Trail Condition

The trail itself is relatively flat and easy to follow since there are established paths for most of the hike with wooden plank bridges that will make your journey along the path much easier. Although it’s a short 4.5-mile roundtrip, you can easily spend up to three hours or more exploring the area due to the trail’s many iconic lookouts and beach access points.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

Along the scenic coastline hiking route, you'll encounter the famous Thunder Hole, an ocean-side cavern known for the thunderous sound created by incoming waves. It's about halfway in between Sand Beach and Otter Cliff. Definitely stop here, walk down the short rock path, and experience this wonder.

Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park
Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park (Photo credit: NPS.gov)

You'll also come across the majestic Otter Cliff, standing at 110 feet. It's one of the highest coastal headlands north of Rio de Janeiro.

The trail's numerous lookout points and beach access areas provide ample opportunities to marvel at the park's natural beauty and capture memorable photographs.

Also, Sand Beach is a truly beautiful experience. The beach has a narrow strip of golden sand, bordered by dramatic cliffs and surf. Be careful of that water though before you jump in. It can still be chilly in the summer.

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park
Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

Summary of Ocean Path Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy hike
  • Length of Trail: 4.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 374 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Time: 3-4 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Granite rocks, rock path, wooden plank bridges
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: It can be at certain times of the day especially when there isn't a strong wind.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Cadillac Summit Loop

Located at one of the most famous sites in Acadia National Park is the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail at the top of Cadillac Mountain, it's an easy trail at only .5 miles.

Many people will drive to the Acadian Mountain summit for the very popular sunrise and then hike this short, .5-mile, easy loop trail, with an equally easy elevation gain of only 55 feet. This is the spot where you can see the sunrise first before anywhere else in the United States and is just one of the most incredible experiences.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise
Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

You'll need vehicle reservations for your journey on Cadillac Summit Road to the summit and either see the sunrise or hike the Cadillac Summit Loop. Given the overwhelming popularity of Cadillac Mountain Summit, it's crucial to remember that vehicle reservations can be booked up incredibly quickly. To secure your spot and avoid disappointment, it's advisable to follow my Cadillac Mountain Sunrise step-by-step guide. It will assist you in making timely reservations, ensuring you a chance to witness the magnificent sunrise and hike the Cadillac Summit Loop. Follow the guide and plan your visit ahead of time!

Trail Parking

Parking at the Cadillac Mountain trailhead is fairly straightforward. The Cadillac Summit Road leads to a large parking area at the top of the mountain. From the parking lot, you have direct access to the Cadillac Summit Loop trailhead.

Cadillac Summit Loop Trail parking
Cadillac Summit Loop Trail parking

Keep in mind that during peak tourist season, the parking lot can get surprisingly full, as it's a popular spot for both sunrise and sunset viewings which is why you need to make vehicle reservations in advance.

The Island Explorer bus does not provide transportation to the Acadia Mountain summit.

Trail Condition

The trail condition of the Cadillac Summit Loop hike trail is generally well-maintained and friendly for hikers of all skill levels and is considered an easy hiking trail. The path consists primarily of a granite and gravel surface, making it easier to navigate. It's relatively flat with a few minor ascents and descents, which makes it less of a strenuous hike compared to other trails in the region.

In terms of pet friendliness, dogs are indeed allowed on the Cadillac Summit Loop trail. However, it's essential to ensure that they are kept on a leash at all times for their safety and the comfort of other hikers. Their leash needs to be no more than 6 feet long.

There's no shade, but it's a short hike at .5 miles that offers a stunning 360 view.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

Well, first you'll see the magnificent sunrise if you make it to the summit early enough. From the top of Cadillac Mountain, you'll be able to observe stunning views over the Gulf of Maine and Frenchman Bay.

Cadillac Summit Loop Hike Overlooking Frenchman Bay
Cadillac Summit Loop Hike Overlooking Frenchman Bay

The 0.5-mile loop trail provides stunning views of the rocky coastline, granite peaks, Frenchman Bay, and the Porcupine Islands.

It also offers a great chance for wildlife spotting with birds like cormorants, ospreys, and bald eagles being spotted quite often.

Summary of Cadillac Summit Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy hike
  • Length of Trail: .5 miles on the loop trail
  • Elevation Gain: 55 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 30-45 minutes approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Granite rocks, rock path
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: It can be at certain times of the day especially when there isn't a strong wind.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Jordan Pond Loop Trail

The Jordan Pond Loop hike is one of my favorites and is one of the first ones I hiked with friends during my visit to Acadia National Park. I think it's one of the most beautiful trails at Acadia National Park for its diverse trails of wooden planks, dirt, rock, dense forest, songbirds singing, sparkling water from Jordan Pond, and witnessing The Bubbles and Balancing Rock all from the trail.

This easy 3.1-mile loop trail is around Joran Pond and offers stunning views of the water and mountains surrounding it.

Bubble Rock on the Jordan Pond Loop Trail hike
Bubble Rock on the Jordan Pond Loop Trail hike

The trail starts off easy and ends easy. It's an ideal hike for beginners as the terrain is relatively flat with a few small hills along the way and an easy walk around Jordan Pond loop.

A huge bonus – It's located near Jordan Pond House, a restaurant where you can stop by and grab the famous popovers after you're done with your hike as well. Of course, getting some substance before the hike is always great too. You can dine in, which requires a reservation, or stop by the Carriage Road carry-out on the second level for a quick to-go option.

Trail Parking

Try getting an early start to get a parking spot and hit the trailhead earlier before it gets too crowded. This is a very popular hike since it's fairly short, has easy terrain and is near a restaurant.

There are two parking lots, one closer to the Jordan Pond trailhead and the other closer to the Jordan Pond House restaurant located just by the parking lot. Each parking lot will give you access to the hiking trail.

Parking lot at two different locations for hiking Jordan Pond Trail Loop
Parking lot at two different locations for hiking Jordan Pond Trail Loop

Trail Condition

The trail condition of the Jordan Pond Loop Trail is well-maintained, with marked paths and clear signage, making it easy for first-time visitors. However, the trail tends to get a bit slippery, especially after rainfall, with some rocks and roots on the path that could potentially trip hikers. It's recommended that you wear appropriate hiking shoes, preferably with good traction, to prevent any accidents.

Safety-wise, always stay on the marked path to protect the local flora and fauna and avoid getting lost. Also, be sure to check weather forecasts before you start your hike and to carry sufficient water and snacks.

Lastly, as the trail can get crowded, especially during peak season, maintaining a respectful distance from other hikers and practicing good trail etiquette will ensure everyone enjoys this beautiful hike.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

As one of the most beautiful hikes in Acadia National ParkThere are also several points of interest such as Eagle Lake, The Bubbles, Jordan Stream, and the Jordan Pond Carriage Road.

The trail also offers some great opportunities for birdwatching, with numerous raptors and waterfowl species being spotted regularly.

Wildlife on the Jordan Pond Loop Trail hike
Wildlife on the Jordan Pond Loop Trail hike

You don't have to listen too closely to hear the beautiful sounds of songbirds throughout the forest and along the trail. During my hike, we heard a bird off in the distance that I still haven't been able to identify. See if you can hear them by watching my video and listening. You'll also get an up close and personal view of what the trail is like and what you'll experience on your hike.

Summary of Jordan Pond Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy hike
  • Length of Trail: 3.1 miles on a loop trail
  • Elevation Gain: 42 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 1-2 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Boardwalks, gravel, rock
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: It's next to a pond so mosquitos and chiggers can be present.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Ship Harbor Trail

Located on the southwest side of Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park, near Bass Harbor, is the Ship Harbor hiking trail. This area is considered a little more quiet as it's slightly out of the way of the main area of the national park.

Ship Harbor Trail hiking view
Ship Harbor Trail hiking view (Photo credit: NPS.gov)

If you're staying at the Seawall Campground nearby you'll have even quicker access. It's also located near Wonderland Acadia Trail to the east so you can hike both of these trails on the same day.

I love the figure 8 loop trail that's short, easy, and less crowded than some of the other hiking trails nearby. You'll be able to explore a small, unique harbor with panoramic views of the ocean and its rocky shoreline.

The trail is also home to some interesting vegetation that you won't see in other parts of Acadia National Park such as bayberry shrubs, beach peas, loblolly pines, and grasses.

Trail Parking

There's one small parking lot off Maine 102-A, the main road, which also offers parallel parking on the shoulder if the parking lot is full at the trailhead.

Parking for Ship Harbor Trail hike
Parking for Ship Harbor Trail hike

Trail Condition

The trail is relatively flat and follows a gravel track, making it great for hikers of all levels of experience and fitness. There are some wood planks and rocks to navigate but the terrain is mostly easy.

Make sure you wear hiking shoes with some traction as rocks can be slippery if wet.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

On the Ship Harbor Trail, you'll get to explore the quintessential beauty of Acadia National Park. As you navigate the trail, you will pass through serene meadows of trees. You will marvel at the stunning coastline that stretches as far as the eye can see and the majestic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

The trail ends at a rocky shoreline, where you'll be able to explore fascinating tide pools. Each pool teems with marine life, from colorful starfish to nimble hermit crabs. The salty breeze, the rhythmic crash of the waves, and the chorus of calling seagulls will create an immersive experience, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Summary of Ship Harbor Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.4 miles on a loop hike trail
  • Elevation Gain: 64 feet
  • Type of Trail: Figure 8 Loop
  • Time: 1 hour approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Gravel, rock, wood planks
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: Stay on the trail to avoid ticks in the taller grasses and bushes.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Wonderland Trail

Wonderland Trail is near the Ship Harbor Trail on Mount Desert Island and also close to Bass Harbor in Acadia National Park. It's a great hike that has the same stunning views of the coast as Ship Harbor, with the added bonus of a small beach to hang out and have a picnic so bring your blanket and some food and enjoy the view.

Hike Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park
Hike Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park (Photo credit: Down East)

Many people love to come out at night and do some stargazing since it's easy to navigate with less root growth.

Trail Parking

There's one small parking lot off Maine 102-A, the main road, which also offers parallel parking on the shoulder if the parking lot is full at the trailhead.

Parking for the Wonderland Trail hike
Parking for the Wonderland Trail hike

Trail Condition

You will navigate an easy gravel trail on this hike with flowers and lots of trees to shade you as hike to the end of the trail that ends by the water.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

The Wonderland trail offers a rich and diverse array of sights and experiences and is a scenic hike. As you navigate along the gravel pathway, you will be greeted by a variety of vibrant wildflowers, their colors a stark contrast against the backdrop of dense, verdant trees.

You'll also notice various stone stacks which are made by lining up stones in various shapes and sizes along the trail, arranged with a sense of artistic flair, add a whimsical touch to the hike, and serve as markers of travelers who have journeyed before you.

As you approach the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the water, an expansive vista that stretches as far as the eye can see. This captivating scenery, coupled with the tranquil sound of waves gently lapping against the shoreline, makes for a truly immersive and peaceful experience.

Summary of Wonderland Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 78 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and back
  • Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Boardwalks, gravel, rock
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: Stay on the trail to avoid ticks in the taller grasses and bushes.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Thunder Hole to Sand Beach Trail

Thunder Hole is one of the more popular trails in Acadia National Park with the scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean, short diversions to walk along the pink granite rocks, witness the awesome power of Thunder Hole, and end up at Sand Beach for a little relaxing and dip in the water protected by the cove.

There's so much to sightsee on this trail and it offers parking close to the trail and a shorter distance to hike than the full Ocean Path hike.

The Thunder Hole to Sand Beach Trail follows the Ocean Path Trail along the scenic coastline that is listed above.

Thunder Hole to Sand Beach hike
Thunder Hole to Sand Beach hike

Thunder Hole is a natural marvel within Acadia National Park, a place where the power and grandeur of the ocean are on full display and you get to see it up close.

It gets its name from the thunderous sound that occurs when waves rush into a small inlet, and the incoming sea water collides with air trapped within the rocks. This fascinating geological formation results in a dramatic display of water being forced upwards, often reaching heights of up to forty feet.

Trail Parking

This is a pretty busy area since the hiking trail is located next to Park Loop Road where you'll find several parking lots along the trail. Keep in mind that many of these spaces fill up quickly due to the trail's popularity, so arrive early if you want your pick.

Since this hiking trail is an out-and-back, then you can park at any of these parking lots and then have an easy walk back to your car when you’re done with the hike. The hiking trail officially spans from Thunder Hole to Sand Beach which both have parking lots located near these trailheads.

Parking for Thunder Hole to Sand Beach hike
Parking for Thunder Hole to Sand Beach hike

The local bus stop, Island Explorer, also runs along Park Loop Road and can provide transportation between these areas as well.

Trail Condition

The trail is relatively flat and easy to follow since there are established paths for most of the hike. Although it’s a short 1.3 miles, you can easily spend a couple of hours exploring the area due to the trail’s many iconic lookouts and beach access points.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

As you embark on your journey from Thunder Hole to Sand Beach, you're in for a visual treat with picturesque ocean views, a serene environment, and many tide pools.

Beginning at Thunder Hole, you'll be greeted with the dramatic sounds of waves crashing against the rocky landscape. As you tread along the trail, the distinct smell of ocean air and the cool breeze characterize your surroundings. The trail will lead you through granite rock formations, offering an impressive contrast against the water.

Finally, the trail culminates at the stunning Sand Beach, a sandy oasis amidst the rocky terrain. Its crystal clear waters and the panoramic view of the surrounding cliffs make it a perfect spot to relax and soak in the park's beauty.

Sand Beach cliff rocks in Acadia National Park
Sand Beach cliff rocks in Acadia National Park

Be careful of that water though before you jump in. It can still be chilly in the summer.

Summary of Thunder Hole to Sand Beach Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 196 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Time: 1 hour approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Granite rocks, rock path
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: It can be at certain times of the day especially when there isn't a strong wind.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Moderate Hikes Acadia National Park

A moderate hike in Acadia National Park typically entails longer distances, ranging from 2 to 5 miles. These trails often have more significant elevation gains, reaching between 500 to 1,500 feet, offering panoramic vistas of the park.

The terrain can be more challenging compared to easy hikes, with uneven trails, steep trail inclines, steep descents, steep drop offs, and possible stream crossings. A moderate hike may also require more physical stamina and generally takes 2 to 5 hours to complete.

It's essential to wear sturdy footwear and bring along adequate hydration and snacks.

Gorham Mountain Trail

Gorham Mountain Loop trail offers an inviting challenge for those seeking a moderate hike to a difficult hike with the reward of breathtaking views. Standing at approximately 525 feet, the trail is known for its diverse terrain that includes sections of rocky staircases, multiple iron rung aids, and forested footpaths.

Gorham Mountain Trail Hike
Gorham Mountain Trail Hike (Photo credit: Acadia East Campground)
Gorham Mountain Trail Acadia National Park
Gorham Mountain Trail Acadia National Park (Photo credit: Acadia East Campground)

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and providing panoramic views of Acadia National Park's iconic landmarks like Cadillac Mountain and Otter Cliffs, the summit serves as a spectacular vantage point.

Along the way, enjoy the unique flora and fauna, including vibrant wildflowers during spring and summer and you might even find some blueberries along the way.

The Gorham Mountain Trail intersects with The Bowl Trail and Beehive Trail along the loop if you want to continue on those trails as well.

Safety-wise, it's recommended to start early in the day to avoid the heat and crowd. Wearing proper hiking boots with good grip is essential due to rocky and sometimes slick conditions. Also, ensure you have enough water and snacks to maintain energy levels.

Trail Parking

The Gorham Mountain parking lot is located off of the popular Park Loop Road and can fill up quickly due to crowds. There are several other parking areas off of Park Loop Road if this one is full at the Gorham Mountain trailhead.

Parking for Gorham Mountain Trail hike
Parking for Gorham Mountain Trail hike

Another option is to take the free Island Explorer bus so you don't have to worry about the parking situation.

Trail Condition

The Gorham Mountain Trail offers a well-maintained path, primarily composed of dirt and granite rock. It's known for its rocky terrain, which can become slippery when wet, thus it's vital to watch your footing, especially after a rain or early in the morning when dew makes the rocks slick.

The trail includes some steep drop offs, a rock scramble and a small ladder, but they are interspersed with flat areas, providing moments for rest and admiration of the scenery around.

Hiking poles might be a good option as well to help with the rocky terrain or steeper sections. If you have sensitive knees or problems with flexibility I would not recommend this unless you prepare yourself properly to mitigate any pain later.

Always stay on the trail to protect the environment and for your safety, as going off-trail can lead to harmful impacts on the ecosystem and increase your risk of getting lost or injured.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

The Gorham Mountain Trail offers a feast for the senses. As you ascend, you will be greeted with the refreshing aroma of spruce and pine, and as you navigate the path, you will be surrounded by lush greenery and a variety of flora.

The summit, which stands at 525 feet, is a particular highlight.

Here, you will have a breathtaking vista of the surrounding mountains, coastal forests, and the sparkling blue Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, you may even see the Cranberry Islands in the distance.

The trail also takes you close to Thunder Hole, a natural rock inlet where you can witness powerful waves crashing against the rocks, creating a thunderous sound — a phenomenon that gives this attraction its name.

Also, you'll find that you can see the hikers scaling up the Beehive Trail in the distance on the rocky cliff terrain. If you're adventurous and want a more strenuous hike then definitely consider Beehive Trail with iron rungs and ladders to help you traverse the rocky terrain.

Don’t forget your camera, as the trail offers numerous photo opportunities.

Summary of Gorham Mountain Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike
  • Length of Trail: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 583 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 1.5-3 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Gravel, granite rock, iron rungs
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: Not buggy here. You might see a few mosquitos so still best to prepare just in case.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow but it's beautiful even in the winter.

Great Head Trail

Great Head Trail is another top hike in Acadia National Park, conveniently located near Seal Harbor. This moderately challenging trail takes you on a scenic hike around the headland, offering stunning views of Sand Beach, Newport Cove, and the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Great Head Trail Hike overlooking Sand Beach
Great Head Trail Hike overlooking Sand Beach (Photo credit: NPS.gov)

With an elevation gain of 265 feet, the trail spans approximately 1.8 miles, but don't let the short distance fool you. This trail is packed with stunning natural beauty – from majestic seaside cliffs to blooming wildflowers and diverse wildlife.

Whether you're an experienced hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, the Great Head Trail promises an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

Trail Parking

There's a small parking area at the trailhead off of Schooner Head Road. You can also access the loop trail from Sand Beach where there is additional parking. You have to enter Sand Beach and walk to the left to find the trail.

Sand Beach Parking
Sand Beach Parking

Trail Condition

The trail is well-marked and primarily composed of packed soil and rugged granite, providing a unique hiking experience. It's well-maintained but rough in spots, with some steep inclines and sections where footing can be tricky due to the rocky terrain. It's essential to wear sturdy, supportive footwear to ensure a safe and comfortable hike.

There are lots of trees and plenty of shade on those hot sunny days.

Safety is paramount on the Great Head Trail. Be cautious around cliff edges, as the granite can be slippery, especially when wet. Also, given the trail's close proximity to the ocean, be aware of high tide times and incoming fog that can reduce visibility. Always stay on designated paths to protect the surrounding environment and for your safety.

Few sections may require mild rock scrambling, so always use your discretion to gauge your comfort level.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

As you traverse the Great Head Trail, you'll encounter a rich tapestry of Acadia National Park's natural wonders. Sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean await you at every turn, alongside panoramic vistas of Sand Beach and Newport Cove. Watch for seals frolicking in the surf below or gulls soaring above.

For flora enthusiasts, this trail is a botanical paradise. Depending on the season, you may spot an array of wildflowers, including wild roses, blueberries, and asters. The trail also winds through a dense forest of spruce and fir trees, a characteristic feature of the Acadian forest.

The trail's most renowned feature is perhaps its granite summit – a testament to Acadia's glacial history. From here, the expansive views of the surrounding seascape and the park's mountainous backbone are simply breathtaking.

Moreover, history buffs will appreciate the trail's past. Keep an eye out for the ruins of “Old Soaker,” halfway across the cove which helps to protect Sand Beach.

Summary of Great Head Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.8 miles on a loop trail
  • Elevation Gain: 265 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 1-2 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Gravel, granite rock
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: Watch out for biting flies.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

The Bubbles Trail and Bubbles Divide Trail

Located in one of the most picturesque corners of Acadia National Park, The Bubbles Trail promises an unforgettable hiking experience.

Balancing Rock on Bubble Trail hike
Balancing Rock on Bubble Trail hike (Photo credit: NPS.gov)

Named after the distinctive pair of peaks, North and South Bubble, the trail offers a blend of moderate hiking conditions and stunning views.

You'll start out on the Bubbles Divide Trail from the parking lot and trailhead where you can then take the South Bubble Trail to Bubble Rock or north to the North Bubble Trail.

Trail Parking

You can find parking off of Park Loop Road at The Bubbles Divide trailhead northeast of Jordan Pond Loop trail. It's a small parking area so you might want to get there early. If you can't find parking you can also access The Bubbles Trail from the Jordan Pond Trail on the eastern side of Jordan Pond just below Bubble Rock.

Parking for Bubbles Trail hike
Parking for Bubbles Trail hike

Trail Condition

The Bubbles Trail is primarily composed of dirt and gravel, interspersed with uneven sections of granite rock that may require careful navigation. Expect steep inclines in certain portions, particularly as you ascend towards the Bubbles peaks. Fall foliage and pine needles often cover the path, adding to the trail's natural charm but also potentially making it slippery, especially after rain. The trail is well-marked but can be a bit confusing with all of the divides. It's always advisable to carry a map or a trail guide.

Also, some sections can be quite steep, so proper hiking boots are recommended for better grip and ankle support. Always keep an eye out for tree roots and loose stones. It's best to stay on the path, not only to preserve the delicate ecosystem surrounding the trail but also to avoid getting lost.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

Get ready to soak in the stunning vistas of Jordan Pond and the surrounding mountains, while you navigate through the well-maintained paths. The Bubbles Trail certainly earns its name and don't forget to keep an eye out for the famous glacial erratic, Balance Rock. With its unique topography and striking panoramas.

Enjoy bird watching, kayaking, and swimming in Jordan Pond, or take some time to explore the bubbling streams that cross this trail. Keep your eyes open as you pass through the forested areas and don't forget to look up – you may be lucky enough to spot a bald eagle soaring high above.

Summary of The Bubbles Trail & Bubbles Divide Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.6 miles on a loop trail
  • Elevation Gain: 515 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Time: 1-2 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Boardwalks, gravel, rock
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: It's next to a pond so mosquitos and chiggers can be present.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Schoodic Head Overlook Trail

Next on our list of top hikes in Acadia National Park is the Schoodic Head Overlook trail just south of Schoodic Woods Campground. This trail offers some of the park's most breathtaking and panoramic views.

Schoodic Head Trail Acadia National Park
Schoodic Head Trail Acadia National Park (Photo credit: Down East Thunder Farm)

As you ascend, you'll find yourself surrounded by the raw beauty of the Maine wilderness. The trail winds through a dense forest before opening up to reveal a stunning vista at the top.

On a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Desert Island. With its diverse terrain and stunning views, the Schoodic Head Overlook trail is a must-visit for any hiking enthusiast.

Trail Parking

From the Schoodic Loop Road on the west side of the Schoodic Peninsula, you take a left onto Mountain Road and wind around until you see loop parking. On the map, it's hard to see through the dense trees.

Parking for Schoodic Head Trail hike and overlook
Parking for Schoodic Head Trail hike and overlook

Trail Condition

The Schoodic Head Overlook trail is predominantly a dirt path interspersed with sections of exposed roots, wooden planks, and rocks. The trail is well-maintained, but it can get slippery during or after rain, so sturdy, water-resistant footwear is recommended for safe hiking.

There are also good navigational signs to the various trails around and pointing you back to the parking.

As you ascend, the trail becomes steep and rocky, requiring careful footing, especially when descending. During the fall season, fall foliage may cover the trail, potentially obscuring tripping hazards.

Always stay on the marked trail to preserve the natural environment and for your own safety. Conditions can change rapidly in the park, so be sure to check the local weather forecast before setting out on your hike.

Hiking poles are also great to bring with you, especially for steeper step-ups and downs and muddy conditions so you don't slip and fall.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

As you traverse the Schoodic Head Overlook trail, you'll be immersed in the amazing Maine landscape. Towering trees flank the trail, their leaves whispering with the wind, and providing a serene backdrop for your journey. Various species of birds, squirrels, and other woodland creatures might be seen scampering through the undergrowth or heard calling from the treetops.

Halfway up the trail, you'll find a cluster of boulders ideal for a short rest and a great place to snap some photos. Be sure to look out for small wildlife that often inhabits these rocky outcroppings.

As you near the summit, the forest begins to thin out, revealing a rugged landscape of exposed bedrock and hardy mountain shrubs.

Once you reach the summit, you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Mount Desert Island, the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, and the vast expanse of Maine's wilderness.

Summary of Schoodic Head Overlook Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 442 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Time: 1.5-2.5 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Gravel, rock, root systems, wood planks
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: Mosquitos can be around at various times of the year.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Bass Harbor Head Light Trail

The Bass Harbor Head Light Trail is an iconic fixture among Acadia's top hikes. Known for its stunningly picturesque lighthouse. The trail itself is rather short, but don't be fooled – it provides a rich, sensory journey.

Bass Harbor Head Light Trail Hike
Bass Harbor Head Light Trail Hike (Photo credit: NPS.gov)

Be prepared to scramble some rocks for a good view and pictures, and navigate your way over the granite rocks, exposed roots, and wood planks.

Trail Parking

There's a decently sized parking lot at the start of this trail for the Bass Harbor Head Light Station. The parking lot is free to use for any hikers. Parking spaces can fill up fast during the high season of summer so it's best to get there early to beat the crowd.

Parking for the Bass Harbor Head Light Trail hike
Parking for the Bass Harbor Head Light Trail hike

Trail Condition

The trail condition of the Bass Harbor Head Light Trail varies, beginning on a flat, well-maintained gravel path that gradually transitions into a rougher, more natural terrain.

As you continue, you'll find sections made of wooden planks and stairs, as well as areas of exposed bedrock and roots.

It's advisable to wear sturdy hiking shoes due to the uneven surfaces. Safety precautions on this trail include staying within marked paths and viewing areas, as the cliffs can be dangerous. The trail is not wheelchair-accessible, and those with mobility challenges should exercise caution.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

As you walk the path, you'll feel the salty sea breeze, hear the crashing waves against the cliffs, and smell the distinctive scent of spruce trees. Towards the end of the trail, a lighthouse stands as a sentinel, providing a picture-perfect backdrop against the Atlantic Ocean. This trail is ideal for those who love historical structures, as the lighthouse has been guiding mariners since 1858 when it was constructed.

Summary of Bass Harbor Head Light Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike
  • Length of Trail: .4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 62 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and back
  • Time: 15-30 minutes approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Rock and stairs
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: Not usually bad since it's by the water, especially with a breeze.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

The Bowl via Bowl Trail

The Bowl via Bowl Trail is another captivating hike in the Acadia National Park that promises a rewarding outdoor adventure.

This moderately challenging trail spans 1.2 miles and is an out-and-back type, leading hikers through dense forests, and bountiful wildflower fields, and offering stunning views of a tranquil pond known as “The Bowl”.

The Bowl Trail Acadia National Park
The Bowl Trail Acadia National Park (Photo credit: Only In Your State)

As you ascend the Bowl Trail, you'll pass Beehive Trail on your right and Gorham Mountain Trail on your left. Look up to see all the folks scaling the Beehive Trail off of cliff rocks.

If you're not keen on hiking the Beehive Trail which is considered a hard trail to hike, then taking the Bowl Trail will put you on the backside of Beehive Trail.

Trail Parking

To access the Bowl Trail, you can park across Park Loop Road at the Sand Beach parking lot. This can be a very crowded parking lot so either get there early or take the Island Explorer free bus.

Sand Beach parking
Sand Beach parking

Trail Condition

The Bowl Trail is generally in good condition, well-maintained, and marked. The trail is primarily composed of natural dirt paths interspersed with sections of root and rock-strewn terrain, making it a slightly rugged but enjoyable hike.

However, it's essential to be mindful of slippery rock surfaces, especially in wet conditions.

Safety concerns are few but include the potential for sprained ankles if you don't watch your step on the uneven granite steps and sections. Also, be aware that at certain times of the year, particularly in spring and after heavy rains, some parts of the trail can become muddy. As always, hikers are advised to wear sturdy footwear, carry sufficient water, and hike at a pace that is comfortable for them.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

On the Bowl Trail, you'll be treated to an abundance of fascinating views and experiences. As you immerse yourself in the sounds and sights of the surrounding wilderness, you will traverse through verdant woodlands, alive with the chirping of birds and rustling of small wildlife.

One of the trail's main attractions is the panoramic view of “The Bowl”, a lake right on the side of Champlain Mountain. The reflection of the sky in the water, punctuated by the surrounding greenery, creates a photogenic spectacle, one that's a favorite amongst hikers.

A short detour from the main trail will take you to a viewpoint offering an impressive vista of the expansive Atlantic Ocean, with the Porcupine Islands in the distance. The sight of waves crashing onto the rugged shoreline below can be mesmerizing.

The summit of the Bowl Trail offers a 360-degree view of the Acadia National Park, including the distinctive peaks of Beehive and Gorham Mountain. It's an ideal location for a restful break, providing a perfect opportunity to feast your eyes on the natural beauty around you.

Summary of The Bowl via Bowl Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Time: 1-2 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Gravel, rock, root systems
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash that's no longer than 6 feet.
  • Buggy: It's next to a pond so mosquitos and chiggers can be present.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

The Beehive Loop Trail

The Beehive Loop Trail, a standout among the top hikes in Acadia National Park, provides a thrilling hiking experience replete with an enchanting mix of rugged landscapes, dense forests, breathtaking coastal views, and one of the popular ladder hikes.

Beehive Hiking Trail Iron Rungs
Beehive Hiking Trail Iron Rungs (Photo credit: KTNPBlog)

This trail, though short at 1.5 miles, is not for the faint-hearted. It's a steep climb with close to 508 feet in elevation gain, involving iron rungs and ladders bolted into the rock face. Some will say the hiking trail is a moderate level, but many claim that it really should be listed as hard given that at times you are rock scrambling and pulling your weight up on iron rungs and rocks.

Trail Parking

The best place to park to hike the Beehive Loop Trail is across the street from the trailhead at the Sand Beach parking lot. This is a very popular parking lot for several hiking trails in the area and also to visit Sand Beach itself.

Sand Beach parking
Sand Beach parking

It's advisable to get there early before the crowd to make sure you can park your car. Otherwise, you can travel on the Island Explorer free bus that will drop you off here.

Trail Condition

The Beehive Loop Trail is primarily composed of natural rock and gravel with a substantial number of iron rungs and ladders. It is rugged and uneven, making proper footwear a necessity for safe navigation. Be prepared for a few sections on this trail where you'll have to climb or traverse these iron aids. This can be a bit intimidating for those with a fear of heights, but they are secure and provide a unique hiking experience.

Safety on this trail is paramount due to its steep and challenging terrain. Hikers should stay within marked paths to prevent erosion and potential accidents. Use caution when ascending and descending, especially in wet conditions as the rocks may become slippery.

Always check the weather forecast before your hike as fog and rain can significantly decrease visibility and trail safety.

Lastly, avoid hiking this trail in winter or early spring when ice is present. The iron rungs can become dangerously slick and the path increasingly treacherous. Enjoy the thrill, but always prioritize safety when hiking the Beehive Loop Trail.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

Embarking on the Beehive Loop Trail provides a visual spectacle rich with the raw beauty of Acadia National Park. As you ascend, sweeping panoramas of the lush forest and rugged coastline come into view, offering striking photo opportunities.

On reaching the summit, you're greeted with a breathtaking vista of Sand Beach, the glistening Atlantic Ocean views, and the distant Great Head.

Points of interest along the trail include The Bowl, a serene pond nestled in the heart of the forest. A well-deserved rest here will allow you to appreciate the tranquil symmetry of nature, mirrored perfectly in the glassy water surface. Bird watchers will be delighted as the park is home to a diverse array of bird species.

Summary of Beehive Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate hike/Hard hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.5 miles on a loop trail
  • Elevation Gain: 508 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 1-2 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Boardwalks, gravel, rock, iron rungs
  • Dogs Allowed: No dogs are allowed on this hiking trail.
  • Buggy: There can be mosquitos on occasion, but it's not overly buggy.
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Hard Hikes Acadia National Park

A hard hike in Acadia National Park is distinguished by its higher degree of difficulty, demanding not only physical endurance but also mental resilience.

These challenging treks often involve greater elevation gains, steep inclines, and longer distances. In addition, the terrain can be particularly rugged, with rocky paths, and sometimes even include sections where slight climbing is necessary. Iron rungs to help pull yourself up the cliff can also be seen in some areas.

These top hikes in Acadia National Park are not recommended for beginners or those unaccustomed to strenuous activities, but for seasoned hikers, they offer an unmatched opportunity to immerse oneself in Acadia's wild beauty and test their hiking prowess.

So, if you are a hiking enthusiast with a taste for adventure, this is the perfect place to challenge your limits.

Precipice Trail

Precipice Trail, a very difficult, steep ascent and steep descent hiking trail, yet a rewarding hike near downtown Bar Harbor, Maine in Acadia National Park, is known for its sheer cliffs and heart-stopping elevations. The Precipice Trail is not for the faint-hearted, demanding both physical strength and mental fortitude from hikers who dare to take it on. It presents a unique combination of steep inclines, iron rungs, and narrow ledges, all while offering breathtaking views of the park.

Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park
Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park (Photo credit: NPS.gov)

When compared to the Beehive Trail, the Precipice Trail is generally considered the more challenging of the two. While both hikes involve sections with iron rungs and intense climbs, the Precipice Trail is nearly double the length of the Beehive Trail and has a more significant elevation gain.

It is worth noting, however, that both routes are not recommended for individuals with a fear of heights or those unaccustomed to physically demanding activities.

The Precipice Trail is strongly discouraged for individuals prone to vertigo. Hiking during inclement weather is also ill-advised, as the rocks can become dangerously slippery. Additionally, this trail is not suitable for small children due to the steep cliffs.

During Falcon mating season (April-June), the National Park Service imposes restrictions on this trail. Instead, you can hike the neighboring Beehive Trail.

Trail Parking

Precipice Trail parking lot is sparing with limited parking spaces off of Park Loop Road. There are some areas off of Park Loop Road to park on the shoulder.

Parking for the Precipice Trail hike
Parking for the Precipice Trail hike

Since parking is limited, it's best to get there early to beat the crowd, especially during high season summer months.

Another option is to take the Island Explorer which is a free bus system that can drop you off so you don't have to worry about parking.

Trail Condition

The trail condition of the Precipice Trail demands attention and respect. It's primarily a granite-based path carved into the side of Champlain Mountain. This isn't your average dirt trail – you'll find yourself scaling walls of solid rock, traversing over rugged terrain, and navigating through uneven boulder fields.

The trail features a series of iron rungs, ladders, and railings, placed to aid in areas where free climbing would be required otherwise. These iron aids contribute significantly to the trail’s intensity and require a good grip and steady footing.

The route is marked with paint blazes for guidance.

The trail also includes numerous ‘chimneys' – essentially vertical passages through rock formations that can be tight and intimidating, thus requiring careful navigation. Despite these challenges, the trail is well-maintained by the park service, though it’s still recommended for experienced hikers due to its overall difficulty.

Remember, always check the weather before you go. Wet conditions can make the rocks dangerously slippery, adding a layer of risk to an already challenging hike.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

The Precipice Trail provides an immersive experience with nature and stunning views that will take your breath away. As you ascend, you'll be captivated by the majestic views of the park's lush greenery, the Atlantic Ocean, and the distant islands. The trail offers panoramic views of the Acadia National Park, which is particularly spectacular during the fall when the trees are ablaze with colors.

During the hike, you'll encounter a variety of wildlife. Keep a lookout for the Peregrine Falcons, which nest in the cliffs. These incredible birds were once endangered but have made a remarkable recovery thanks to conservation efforts.

Summary of Precipice Trail

  • Difficulty: Hard hike
  • Length of Trail: 1.1 miles on a loop trail
  • Elevation Gain: 1,053 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 3-5 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Boardwalks, gravel, rock, iron rungs
  • Dogs Allowed: No dogs allowed on this hiking trail
  • Buggy: Low chance of mosquitos
  • Best Season to Hike: July through fall when it's less cold or snow and not during the Falcon mating season. It's not advisable to hike this during any precipitation on the trail due to slipping off the side of the cliffs.

Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail

The Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail is another top hike within the picturesque Acadia National Park. This trail is known for its unique ladder-style ascent, which takes hikers on a thrilling adventure up the mountain.

The Ladder Trail is a 2.2-mile loop, with an elevation gain of about 1,150 feet. The climb offers breathtaking views of the surrounding park and nearby Bar Harbor. While the difficulty level is challenging, the reward of panoramic vistas at the summit makes it a must-do for any ardent hiker.

Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail
Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail

Skip the leg workout on the day of this hike, because Dorr Mountain  — and the ladder-style climb  — is no joke. Make sure you have good footwear, plenty of water, and a snack for the journey up.

Trail Parking

You'll find a very small area to park in at the Dorr Mountain trailhead off Otter Creek Road. Parking is on the shoulder of the road.

Parking for the Precipice Trail hike
Parking for the Precipice Trail hike

Trail Condition

The Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail is primarily composed of granite rocks and soil, with a series of iron rung ladders assisting the ascent. Throughout the hike, you'll be navigating a combination of steep rock faces and tree-rooted paths, which can get slippery when wet.

Safety is paramount on this trail; hence, it is crucial to wear sturdy hiking boots with good grip. Also, carrying a hiking stick can be beneficial for additional stability.

Ensure to stay on the designated trail and follow the blue blazes marking the path. As the trail includes some steep and exposed sections, it's not recommended for those with a fear of heights.

Lastly, always remember to carry enough water and some high-energy snacks for this challenging hike.

What You'll See and Experience on this Hike

As you ascend the Dorr Mountain hiking trail, you'll be treated to a visual feast of Acadia's distinctive landscape. You'll get an up-close view of the park's granite boulders, rugged terrain, and abundant wildlife. The summit offers a spectacular view of Bar Harbor and the surrounding islands on the horizon.

This hike is especially ideal for photographers, as they can utilize small breaks in between climbs to take stunning close-up shots of Acadia's stunning topography.

You might even find some blueberries to snack on along the way from the various blueberry bushes along the hike.

Summary of Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail

  • Difficulty: Hard hike
  • Length of Trail: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,131 feet
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Time: 3-5 hours approximately depending on how long you sightsee
  • Terrain: Rocks, steps, gravel, iron rungs
  • Dogs Allowed: No dogs allowed on this hiking trail
  • Buggy: It's a little buggy next to the lake
  • Best Season to Hike: Spring to Fall when it's less cold or snow

Short Hikes Under 2 Miles at Acadia National Park

If you're looking for a shorter hike, Acadia National Park still has plenty to offer. Below are some of the top shorter hikes in the park.

These trails are all under 2 miles in length; however, not all are easy and some can take hours depending on the level of difficulty.

Short Hiking Trails

  1. Cadillac Summit Loop – .5 miles
  2. Ship Harbor Trail – 1.4 miles
  3. Wonderland Acadia Trail – 1.3 miles
  4. Thunder Hole to Sand Beach Trail – 1.7 miles
  5. Great Head Trail – 1.8 miles
  6. The Bubbles Trail & Bubbles Divide Trail – 1.6 miles
  7. Schoodic Head Overlook Trail – 1.5 miles
  8. Bass Harbor Head Light Trail – .4 miles
  9. The Bowl via Bowl Trail – 1.2 miles
  10. Beehive Loop Trail – 1.5 miles
  11. Precipice Trail – 1.1 miles

Hiking Tips for Acadia National Park

Things to Know Before You Go

Entrance Fee

Acadia National Park has an entrance fee, which you must pay at the park's visitor center upon entering or you can purchase in advance online

Weather

Be sure to check the weather before planning your hike as extreme weather can make trails dangerous and even un-traversable.

Trail Conditions

Check the NPS website for any updates on trail closures and conditions before you plan your hike. Some trails may be closed seasonally or due to maintenance, so it’s important to check ahead of time.

Stay on Paths & Trails

Always stick to marked paths and trails, as getting lost can be a dangerous situation in Acadia National Park.

Respect Wildlife

Respect all wildlife you encounter and admire them from a distance. Never attempt to feed or touch wild animals, as it may disrupt their natural behaviors and endanger both you and the animal.

Practice Leave No Trace Principles

Always practice leave no trace principles to help keep the park clean and safe for everyone. This includes disposing of trash properly, packing out what you pack in, and respecting wildlife.

Bring a Friend

Hiking with a friend is always safer than going alone. Plus, it’s an opportunity to explore Acadia National Park with someone special!

Download the App

The NPS Acadia App is a great way to stay informed on trail closures, get directions, and even track your hikes. It’s free to download and use in the park.

Are Dogs Allowed?

Dogs are allowed on most trails in the park as long as they are on a leash that is not more than 6 feet. The exceptions are on the hiking trails marked as hard due to the strenuous climbs, iron rungs, and ladders.

Best Time to Hike

The best time to hike in Acadia National Park is during the summer months. This will give you the chance to experience the wildflowers and lush green foliage that covers most of the trails. Plus, warmer temperatures make it easier to tackle some of the more challenging hikes.

That said, it is tourist season and can get very crowded so wake up early and hit the trails before it gets too congested with people, especially if you want a more peaceful experience.

Public Transportation or Driving

Most of the trails are accessible by car and there are plenty of parking lots located throughout the park. The free Island Explorer Bus Service also travels to many popular hikes, so you don’t have to worry about driving yourself.

Are there grizzly bears in Acadia National Park?

No, there are no grizzly bears in Acadia National Park. The only bear species in the park is the black bear. However, they rarely venture too close to trails or roads and are generally more afraid of people than people are of them.

Are ticks a problem in Acadia National Park?

Ticks can be a problem in Acadia National Park. It’s important to wear protective clothing and check for ticks after your hike. You should also take steps to reduce the habitat for ticks by keeping grass and leaves away from trails, as well as avoiding wooded areas during peak tick season (April – October). Also, make sure you are protecting your dog as well with a tick medication before arriving and check diligently in its fur after the hike for any ticks who've tried to hitch a ride.

Are there bathrooms on the trails?

Yes, there are bathrooms located at some of the main trailheads throughout Acadia National Park. However, keep in mind that some of these facilities may not be open during off-peak season or can occasionally be closed for maintenance. Therefore, it is always a good idea to plan ahead and bring your supplies just in case.

Gear to Pack for Your Hike

Whether you're planning a short day hike or a longer trek, having the right gear can make your trip safer and more enjoyable. Here are some essentials that you should consider packing for your hike in Acadia National Park:

  1. Water: Always carry enough water to avoid dehydration, especially on longer hikes or during warmer weather. A refillable water bottle or a hydration bladder are good options.
  2. Electrolytes: Electrolytes are important to replace those lost when sweating. Consider packing electrolyte tablets or powders to add to your water for longer hikes
  3. Snacks: Energy bars, trail mix, fresh fruit, or protein snacks can help keep your energy levels up during your hike. Any food that will keep well in your backpack and not spoil is the best.
  4. Sunscreen: Always protect yourself from the sun with an SPF-rated sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
  5. Emergency GPS: A GPS device like the Garmin Explorer can help you in case of emergencies especially since the cell service is sparse.
  6. Paper Map: Don't rely solely on your phone as the signal may be weak or non-existent in some areas of the park. An old-school paper map can help instead and it's easily stowable in your backpack or even your pocket.
  7. Trash Bags: Pack a small trash bag to carry out any trash you generate during your hike. Remember, leave no trace!
  8. Bug Spray: Ticks and mosquitoes can be a nuisance, so bring some bug spray to protect yourself.
  9. First-Aid Kit: A basic first-aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers (for tick removal), and any necessary personal medication.
  10. Weather-appropriate clothing: Dress in layers and be prepared for weather changes. Always check the weather forecast before your hike.
  11. Hiking Boots: A sturdy pair of hiking boots will provide the necessary ankle support and traction for the rocky and sometimes steep terrain.
  12. Camera: Remember to bring a camera to capture the stunning views of Acadia National Park. After all, it will be fun to share your adventures with friends and family.

Remember, the key to a successful hike is preparation. So pack smart and enjoy your adventure on some of the best hikes Acadia National Park has to offer.

All of the top hikes Acadia National Park offers cater to every level of hiking enthusiast. Whether you're in search of panoramic coastal views, serene forest trails, challenging rocky ascents, or peaceful waterfalls, you'll find a trail that perfectly fits your preferences.

Mount Desert Island has so much to offer with all of the hiking trails, restaurants, Bar Harbor, and camping.

Don't forget to prepare adequately before your adventure, taking into consideration the weather, terrain, and your physical capabilities. Remember, it's not just about the destination, but also about the journey.

Happy hiking in the magnificent landscapes of Acadia National Park trails!

Teresa

Thursday 24th of August 2023

Great info! Thanks for writing this up. We'll have to add it to our list.

Amber Baldwin

Friday 25th of August 2023

Hi Teresa. I hope you enjoy your time there. It's so beautiful and peaceful.