Acadia National Park has so many unique and picturesque hiking trails. We are so glad we had the opportunity to hike so many of the trails here to determine our best hikes in Acadia National Park list. From easy flat wooded and coastline walks to more challenging cliff exposed summit climbs (that utilize metal rungs and ladders), there really is a hiking trail to suit everyone’s hiking abilities in Acadia.
Further, many of the hiking trails in Acadia National Park intersect and there are many different ways to hike to the same spot. We loved the ‘choose your own route’ hiking options in Acadia. These allow you to optimize your time in the park and see many more trails through hiking loop routes rather than exclusive out and back trails. These build your own options also allow you to opt in or out of more technically challenging paths (ladders, metal rungs, rock scrambling, etc) while still getting to the same summit.
We spent a week hiking in Acadia National Park and after hiking many of the trails, here is our Top 5 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park list.
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Note: This post is written off a trip taken late October when fall colors were near peak. Also, see our Top 5 What to do Acadia National Park and our Where to Stay Near Acadia National Park posts for more helpful information on visiting Acadia.
#1 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park: Jordan Cliffs, South Bubble & Jordan Pond Loop
This was our favorite hike in the park and wins the spot as #1 for the Top 5 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park. The variety we saw on this loop trail made it stand out from the others. We started this hike midmorning at the Jordan Pond House with stunning lighting and stillness over Jordan Pond at the beginning of the trail at this time (see picture above).
We then headed clockwise to the Jordan Cliffs Trail (view shown in first picture in post) and hiked along the exposed cliffs overlooking the pond. The Jordan Cliffs Trail was unique in that it not only had cliff exposure but also had metal rungs and challenging rock scrambles. This route was a bit more challenging than we anticipated and we had to hike it very slowly but felt safe doing so.
You then will turn and hike on the Bubbles Divide Trail to hike up to the South Bubble. The views to the north (see picture below) and over Jordan Pond are really stunning, some of our favorites from the trip. Then you head back to the Jordan Pond House on the flat Jordan Pond Path.
Logistics: 4.8 Miles, 1200 feet of elevation gain, loop
Hike Spring Trail from Jordan Pond House → Jordan Cliffs Trail → Bubbles Divide Trail → South Bubble Trail → Jordan Pond Path to Jordan Pond House
Tip: Hike Jordan Cliffs, South Bubble and Jordan Pond Loop Clockwise
The Jordan Cliffs Trail has some particularly challenging rock scrambles and metal rungs to hike. These are much easier to conquer clockwise (up) than counterclockwise (down). We were advised by park rangers and other hikers to not attempt the route counterclockwise (down) and are glad we listened.
This trail was harder than we anticipated but we were able to safely hike it slowly. However, if you are new to hiking, hesitant with baby wearing or afraid of heights, we would not recommend the Jordan Cliffs Trail to you. Instead, you may prefer to hike the easier flat and not technically challenging Jordan Pond Trail to the Bubbles Divide Trail. You will not get the stunning cliff views of the Jordan Cliffs Trail but will still get some really nice elevated views of Jordan Pond from the South Bubble. This hike reminded us of hiking around Devil’s Lake with slightly more cliff exposure.
Tip: Eat Popovers at Jordan Pond House After Hiking
The perfect treat after your hike! Popovers are a large fluffy bread that are in the shape of a large muffin but very airy and not sweet. Our best comparison is a creme puff without the creme. They are served with butter and jam. Afternoon tea and popovers were the perfect treat after a long hike on a chilly fall day. The Jordan Pond House has been serving popovers and tea since the 1890s.
#2 Best Hikes in Acadia: Beech Cliff Ladder, Beech Cliff Loop & Canada Cliff
This hike nearly ties with the first as our favorite hike in Acadia. It is a great bang for your buck hike as you get stunning lake and coastline views (that are especially colorful in fall) relatively quickly. This hike has a little bit of everything when it comes to reaching the summit–exposed cliff walks, ladders, metal rungs and rock scrambles. However, that being said, we did not find this hike technically challenging.
Tip: Hike Beech Cliff Trail and Canada Cliffs Loop Counterclockwise
We highly recommend hiking this trail counterclockwise so that you climb up the ladders rather than down them. Here you first hike up the Beech Cliff Trail to the Beech Cliff Summit. This is the only part of the hike that involves any metal rungs or ladders. Then, after reaching the top of the Beech Cliff Trail, be sure to turn to the right and continue onto the short Beech Cliff Loop offshoot (easy to miss). The views on the Beech Cliff Loop are truly the highlight of this trail. After walking on the stunning Beech Cliff Loop, you will head along the exposed cliffs before making your descent slowly back through the woods on the Canada Cliffs Trail.
Logistics: 2.2 Miles, 500 feet elevation gain, loop
Hike Beech Cliff Ladder Trail from Echo Lake Beach Entrance→ Beech Cliff Loop (be sure to add this as the views here are the highlight of the hike) → Canada Cliff Trail
Tip: If looking to escape crowds, hike Beech Cliff and visit Echo Lake
We saw less than 5 cars in the parking lot here (Echo Lake) on our weekday fall hike. We encountered less people here than on any of our other hikes. This area of the park was so peaceful and serene. Echo lake is so pretty too! However, it may be more busy during warm summer months with people swimming at the beach.
#3 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park: Beehive/Bowl/Gorham
The Beehive is probably the most well-known and popular trail in Acadia. It has many steep cliff exposures and ladders, making it a unique challenge. Also, it is only 1.5 miles round trip if hiked alone. It further offers impressive views of the coastline and foliage, especially in the fall, at the summit.
Note: Two Ways to Reach the Beehive Summit
You start this trail (as a loop like we did or as a stand alone hike) at the Sand Beach parking lot. There are two ways to hike to the Beehive Summit. One on a shorter more technically challenging path and one on a longer but less technically demanding path. Since we were both baby/toddler wearing, we opted for the longer, less technically challenging route. This route is nicknamed the ‘back door to Beehive’ which is very fitting. On this route, you pass by a pretty lake, the Bowl. You do retrace your steps coming back on the Bowl Trail before meeting up with Gorham Mountain Trail (or getting back to the parking lot if hiking as stand alone trail)
Gorham Mountain and Ocean Path to Finish Loop
Gorham Mountain (above view) also offers very pretty views over the coast as well as panoramic views further into the park at the summit. We only saw two other people at the summit of Gorham whereas we saw dozens at the summit of the Beehive, so this was a nice retreat from the people. After hiking to the Gorham Summit, you head back down to meet up with the Ocean Path. Once on the Ocean Path, you get pretty ocean views (parallel park loop road) before arriving back at the Sand Beach parking lot. Be sure to spend some time at Sand Beach as it is one of the few areas in the park where you can walk directly along the ocean. We visited two different times during our trip.
Note: The Beehive Part of this Hike is Busy and Slippery When Wet!
We rank this hike lower than most other hikers. The Beehive is very busy, maybe too busy, and we found it less peaceful than other trails. We also hiked this route after recent rain and even without hiking the more technically challenging Beehive route, we had to be very careful with our footing as it was still quite slippery. We would not recommend hiking Beehive itself after any sort of rain given how slippery the easier and safer option was after recent rain.
Note: This map shows hiking up the more technically challenging Beehive Trail to the Beehive Summit rather than up the Bowl as we did (and recommend if you are baby wearing).
- Combination of Beehive, Gorham and part of Ocean Path—3.5 Miles, 750 feet of elevation gain hike, loop (hiking via the Bowl adds about a mile onto the route)
- Beehive alone—1.5 Miles, 500 feet of elevation gain, loop
- Gorham Mountain alone—1.8 miles, 500 feet of elevation gain, loop
From the parking lot at Sand Beach, hike the Bowl Trail to summit Beehive → then back on Bowl Trail→ Gorham Mountain Trail → Gorham Mountain Summit → get to Gorham parking lot/Ocean Path by taking the Cadillac Cliffs Trail (more exposed) or Gorham Mountain Trail → meet up with the Ocean path (parallels Park Loop Road, cross street from Gorham Mountain parking lot) to get back to the Sand Beach parking lot.
#4 Best Hikes in Acadia: Dorr Mountain via Ladder Trail & Cannon Brook Trail
Looking for a stair-master workout? Well this climb is for you! The hike to the top of Dorr Mountain is about a mile and very steep. However, we really liked this route as you got a lot of variety in scenery and it was so serene (we only saw one other person and one coyote).
You hike the steep ladder trail to the summit of Dorr Mountain first. This has 3 ladders to climb but we found them to be easy without any cliff exposure and with stable placement. The trail is mostly steep rock steps. Note, there is one narrow rock passage to walk through that may be an issue if you have a really wide backpack carrier (ours fit). Once at Dorr Mountain Summit, you take the Dorr Ridge South Trail down the mountain while enjoying stunning coastline views that are very pretty in fall. You will then meet up with the Canon Brook Trail that is mainly flat and easy. The fall colors on the Canon Brook Trail were very stunning. We saw a coyote from a distance on this trail too.
Logistics: 3.4 Miles, 1200 feet of elevation gain, loop
Hike Ladder Trail→ summit of Dorr Mountain→ take Dorr Ridge South Trail to enjoy coastline views → then Canon Brook Trail (it is flat, easy and beautiful in the fall) → brings you back to beginning of Ladder Trail
#5 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park: Ocean Path
The Ocean Path is an easy and beautiful coastline hike, landing it a spot in our Top 5 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park list. We found the second half of this hike (after the Gorham Mountain parking lot on Park Loop Road) to be really serene and beautiful. It was also more of a trail and is tucked a bit away from the road in comparison to the first half. The first half of the hike has very pretty views too but is also directly next to Park Loop Road and very busy with hikers as it is easily accessible for large tour buses. This is a great hike for anyone not looking for a steep or technical climb but stunning views nonetheless.
Logistics: 4 Miles, 375 feet of elevation gain, Out & Back
We actually hiked the Ocean Path as two seperate hikes as we combined the first half of the trail with hiking to Beehive/Gorham Mountain (outlined above as #3) and then hiked the second half of the hike another day as a separate hike (parked at Gorham Mountain parking lot).
Note: You can see the highlights of this trail driving/stopping on Park Loop Road but we found it to be nicer/more serene to hike it. You are taking a slower pace walking and can truly take in the scenery.
We hope this 5 best hikes in Acadia National Park guide helps you plan your hiking in Acadia. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
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