TRIP REPORT: Acadia National Park – Maine 7-3-15

Despite the title on the blog I can assure you that you have not gone back in time and I have not lost my mind. This summer I have been able to travel quite a bit and have gone on a few trips that I would really like to share with you guys. Since this blog was started after these trips I will be posting a couple of more post dated trip reports, but once these are done I plan to keep them coming in chronological order. This trip was my first trip to Maine in nearly 10 years so I figured I should do at least a short write up since I had a great time and it turned out to be even better than I imagined.

Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to work with so the plan for the trip was to drive up with my cousin Chris starting at 4am Friday morning from New Jersey to Maine.  Our final destination would be Baxter State Park in order to climb Katahdin, but I figured we should absolutely make time to stop at Acadia National Park along the coast. This turned out to be an excellent decision!

We arrived in Acadia at about 1 pm after about 9 hours of driving which was roughly what we expected. Arriving so late we knew we could not do a whole lot since we still had to drive 2.5 hrs to Baxter that evening. Given the time constraints I decided that we should try to do the Precipice trail at the recommendation of my buddy who had visited Acadia a few years prior. The Precipice trail is a steep exposed climb up a cliff which is less a trail and more a non technical climb. The trail includes metal rails and bars to hold on to for safety which makes it resemble more of a via ferrata that you would see in Europe. We drove down Park Loop Rd until we reached the Precipice trail head but unfortunately it was closed due to Peregrine falcon nesting so we had to find ourselves a new objective. Luckily there is another shorter trail with similar characteristics further down the road, leading to the top of The Beehive. We drove down the road a little further until we reached the official park entrance. There was a fairly large line of cars at the entrance but luckily I had my National Park annual pass so we were able to cut the line and zip right in. Once past the entrance we pulled off behind the last parked car we saw on the road at the suggestion of the park ranger and prepared ourselves for the light hike.

We packed light with just water and snacks knowing that we wouldn’t be gone very long and that the trail only had very modest elevation gains. We were geared up in a few minutes and got on our way to the trail entrance which was only a little ways further down the road on the right. The trail was extremely easy to find and follow. After just a minute or two you get to the sign marking the start of the cliff trail. The sign includes ominous warnings.

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None shall pass!

The trail overall is quite short comprising of only a few miles for the whole loop and since it is relatively flat you make it to the start of the cliffs quite quickly. Since it was a holiday weekend and such a beautiful day we encountered quite a few people on the trail. The trail itself is wide and and really quite safe but I could see why people unaccustomed with being in the mountains would be uneasy. The trail follows the path of least resistance straight up the side of the rock face.

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Exposed but very safe ledge

The whole cliff is only a couple of hundred feet tall so you ascend it fairly quickly. The trail did narrow in a few spots and at one point we came upon a family with children who when things got a bit steeper decided to back off and walk back down the way they came. At this point the trail begins to have many iron rungs to help you negotiate the steeper sections. I found this part to be easy but enjoyable considering you have such amazing views of the ocean behind you. My only complaint is that the rungs and hand holds on the rock were very greasy from everyone’s sweat and sunscreen. Either way it never felt unsafe and you can just take your time negotiating these sections. I think if you can climb a ladder you should have no problems on this trail.

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Start of the steep section

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Final steep section to the summit

After a few minutes we were standing on the summit enjoying the beautiful ocean views. I believe in the end we actually spent more time waiting for the people in front of us on the cliff then we did actually ascending. Either way it was worth the time. Although the Beehive summit is only 520 ft you still get great views of the surrounding area and it is easy to see why Acadia became a National Park.

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Beehive Summit Post

The Beehive summit was very busy and had at least a dozen or more groups congregating in the small area. Since we had been on the trail such a short amount of time I suggested we continue on to the summit of Mt Champlain which we could see off in the distance. This is the summit that the Precipice trail would have reached. Chris agreed and we were on our way. This turned out to be a great idea. Not only was the trail quite beautiful but it was also much quieter and we only encountered a few other people who bothered to walk the rest of the way. Its a shame that more people didn’t bother to keep going to the bigger and better views.

Once we descended the back side of the Beehive we were greeted with a beautiful view of The Bowl, a small pond located between the beehive and Champlain Mountain.

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The Bowl

The Bowl was very nice and pristine. Given more time it would have been a great place to sit next to and enjoy the beautiful day. Maine was full of beautiful lakes and ponds and this wouldn’t be the last one that we would get to enjoy.

The trail the rest of the way was extremely gradual and pleasant following the ridge up Champlain from the Bowl. The trail was covered in beautiful greenery and flowers which only made the experience even more rewarding.

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Ridge trail leading to Champlain Mountain

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Cairn marking the way

Unfortunately I didn’t have this blog in mind at the time I hiked in Acadia so I do not have accurate times but I would say we reached the summit of Champlain Mountain in perhaps 30 minutes or so. It was an easy but beautiful hike up to the 1,058 ft summit.

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Champlain Mountain Summit Sign

Once on the summit we got the true reward of the trip to Acadia and why I was glad we made the extra effort to stop, which was the views. To say the views were stunning is an understatement and the pictures really do not do it justice. I would high recommend anyone who is able try to visit the park at least once.

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Views from the top of Champlain Mtn

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Chris enjoying the view

We lingered on the summit for probably about 30 minutes before deciding we should get going back to the car. We descended quickly via the same trail we came up but when we got back to the Beehive we took the alternate descent trail down the backside. We were back in the car in no time and on our way. On the way out of the park we took our time and enjoyed the rest of the views along the coast. We also made a stop to take a look at the famous sea cliffs which you see in most pictures from Acadia. They also didn’t disappoint and would of been a great place to spend the day hanging out if we had the time.

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Sea cliffs

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Pond that was feeding into the ocean on the other side of the road

In the end Acadia National Park is a beautiful place that I hope to go back to and explore more thoroughly. I would of preferred going when it was less crowded but for a holiday weekend and such a beautiful day it really wasn’t bad. I would also say that Acadia is the perfect place for someone who wants a little bit of wilderness but still all the civilized comforts of home. On the way out we also decided to stop in Bar Harbor for some lobster rolls because you can’t drive past Bar Harbor and not eat some lobsta!

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Lobsta Roll

I also bought a 6 pack of Bar Harbor Real Ale to take home with me. It was quite good in my opinion.

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Bar Harbor Real Ale

Also one last thing I found very interesting about Maine in general is that absolutely everywhere sells lobster something. Even McDonald’s has lobster rolls for sale!

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McDonald’s Lobster Rolls

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