The Beehive Trail is one of Acadia National Park’s “iron rung” trails meaning it is mostly a non-technical rock climb up the Beehive cliffs with the assistance of iron rungs in the rock places there by the NPS. The nearby Precipice Trail is similar but involves more rock scrambling, higher cliffs, and is all around scarier but sadly it was closed due to peregrine falcon nesting when we last visited in July. The falcons don’t seem to like the Beehive cliffs though which is good for me since the Beehive is one of my favorite hikes! My only complaint is that it isn’t longer at two miles round trip (only .5miles or so is climbing).
We had just been at Sand Beach and walked across the street to the Beehive trailhead to begin our hike. It was a beautiful summer day on the Maine coast and the greens of the trees and blues of the water were vibrant as ever in the afternoon sun. Last time I hiked this trail was in the peak of Maine’s fall leaf season and the whole place was lit up with reds, oranges, and purples that glowed on the mountains. One day I hope to visit Acadia in the dead of winter to experience it in all seasons. But anyways the trailhead marker is a small stump with words carved into it and the trail starts off very rocky and uphill.
Soon we reached a fork in the road in the shape of a circle with hard granite sticking out of the dirt. A sign pointed left and a sign pointed right toward the Beehive and that’s the way we headed. Soon there is a sign warning of the dangers of climbing Beehive and it includes the fact that multiple people have fallen to their deaths on these cliffs.
With this grave news the Beehive pokes up through the trees looming as a high up peak with little ant-like people on its face. The reason it is called the Beehive is evident with this view.
The trail doesn’t take any time getting to the climbing and pretty soon we were waiting behind an old lady stuck 3 feet up with her family telling her she probably should sit out of this hike. After they talked her down we carried on upwards with some big rocky steps and a couple iron rungs. After the first few sets of iron rungs a view opens up of sand beach and the bay where we had just been. The water a deep blue that shone in the afternoon sun.
From here we climbed up several sets of iron rungs before crossing a small wooden bridge sticking out of the side of the cliff. The views here are great.
After the bridge we turned a corner and after a few more iron rungs we were up at the rocky top of the mountain with amazing views of Mt. Desert Island all around.
After we took in all the great views we went over the top of the mountain to reach the return trail. The return trail takes you down quickly with a bunch of steps cutting through the aspen forest. It felt like no time before we returned to the fork and then soon we were back at the trailhead and ready for the next hike.
I love the Beehive Trail! It is so fun and unique with great views! If you ever have the chance to visit Acadia I would highly recommend the Beehive trail.
Thanks! – Josh
Acadia National Park in Maine is one of my favorite National Parks. It has great hikes like the Precipice Trail and the Beehive Trail, a fabulous gateway town in Bar Harbor, along with the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the iconic Maine black rocks. The lobster rolls are great too! rk
View from the summit of Cadillac Mountain
Also Sand Beach
View from the Beehive Trail (with Olivia)
Bass Harbor lighthouse in the fog
Once you have seen the Beehive Trail from the Loop Road, you know exactly how it received its name. From the road the climbers look like bees on the beehive shaped hilltop. I was here several years ago and saw the people climbing Beehive and I thought they were crazy, there is no way I would do that hike. Well, fast forward a few years and there I was.
The Beehive Trail as seen from Sand Beach
Josh and I climbed Beehive last October during our visit to Maine. The Beehive Trail is in Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, just off the coast of Maine. We completed this hike right after hiking the Precipice Trail so it actually didn’t seem that bad at the time. Precipice is crazy scary for someone like me who doesn’t like heights—you can read about that hike here: https://bighorntravelblog.com/2016/11/20/sunday-hikes-precipice-trail/.
The parking lot for Beehive is at Sand Beach. It is a very short walk to the trail. The trail itself is 1.9 miles in length and wraps up and around the Beehive using a series of iron rungs and narrow ledges to climb the rock face. The views from the top are incredible, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. There are sweeping views of Sand Beach and Frenchman Bay to savor and enjoy.
Ledge on the Beehive Trail
View of Sand Beach and Frenchman’s Bay from the summit of the Beehive Trail
Beehive is a one way trail so you will need to return back to Sand Beach on the easy .8 mile Bowl Trail through the forest. I highly recommend this hike, make sure you hike it when visiting Acadia NP. rk
Coastline of Acadia National Park
Acadia is a gorgeous national park set on the coast of Maine. I think the best times to go are in the fall where you can see the leaves change color. That is also a popular time in the park so plan your travel arrangements ahead of time. There are several nice hotels in Bar Harbor, but if you want to stay in the park you will be camping. Blackwoods Campground is a nice convenient location and is where I stayed during my last visit. On previous visits, I had used hotel points to stay in Bar Harbor.
View from the top of the Precipice Trail
Start your day early with quick exhilarating hikes at Precipice Trail and Beehive Trail. They are both on the east side and more heavily traveled part of the island. The views from the tops of these trails are amazing. Go from there to see the waves crash at Thunder Hole (if you catch the tides right you will hear why it is called Thunder Hole) and then a short distance to the magnificent views from Otter Point.
Grab brunch and those delicious popovers and jam at Jordan Pond and then shoot over to the less traveled west side of the island. Go straight to the Perpendicular Trail to test your endurance and be rewarded with a bird’s eye view over the west side of the island. You can also see the Cranberry Islands off the coast. From there it is a quick drive to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. By this time, you should be ready for a late lunch of lobster rolls at Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound. This is a road side shack between Bass Harbor and Seawall.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
Drive back across the island now to Bar Harbor and at low tide cross over to Bar Island. During low tide a path to this island emerges from the ocean. A quick hike to the peak of Bar Island overlooks the town of Bar Harbor where you can try and spot where you want to get dinner that night. You have only about a 3-hour window to get across and back, but that is plenty of time. Finish the afternoon with some shopping in Bar Harbor and dinner at Paddy’s Irish Pub or one of the other great restaurants in town. Finish the day with a couple Mexican Hot Chocolate’s to go from Choco-Latte and a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain to see the stars come out.
View of Bar Harbor from Bar Island at Low Tide
You should sleep well and probably late after that busy day. Before leaving Acadia the next morning, grab a late breakfast at Two Cats. I recommend the lobster omelet there. I hope you enjoy your trip.
Acadia National Park near Thunder Hole