Looking for hiking trails with fantastic views in Acadia National Park? Check out the Beehive Trail, one of Acadia’s famous (and challenging) rung and ladder trails.
We headed to Acadia this fall with (almost) no plans.
I looked up trails while my husband drove, and I had no idea what to expect. As we drove, a friend texted and told me to go to the Beehive Trail.
So we did.
And guys, I didn’t really look anything up about the trail beforehand (other than how long it was and where to start). I had no idea what I was getting into!
If you’re headed to Acadia, take this as me saying “Go to the Beehive Trail! … Unless you’re afraid of heights: then go to the Cadillac North Ridge Trail.” How’s that for a plot twist?
Looking for more options for sightseeing at Acadia? For a challenge, try hiking the Bubbles or biking the Schoodic Peninsula. For easier options, consider the Jordan Pond Path or The Wild Gardens of Acadia.
Here’s what to expect if you tackle this challenging ladder and rung trail.
Why Is the Beehive Trail So Popular?
The Beehive Trail is one of Acadia’s famous (or infamous?) rung and ladder trails.
Rung and ladder trails are among my top 10 things to do in Acadia.
These trails use metal ladder rungs attached to the stone mountain walls to help you scramble up the rocks. Yes, that’s right– these are rock scrambling trails!
The Beehive Trail is one of the most popular rung and ladder trails, possibly because it’s open year-round.
Some of Acadia’s other rung and ladder trails, such as the Precipice and Jordan Cliffs, are closed most of the spring and summer for peregrine falcon nesting.
Is The Beehive Trail Difficult?
This trail is only 1.5 miles long (short!) but it rises just over 500 feet in elevation. It also requires significant amounts of rock scrambling.
Do not attempt this trail in wet or icy conditions.
Should I Hike This Trail if I’m Afraid of Heights?
Not even if you’re a teensy bit afraid of heights.
This hike goes vertically up the side of a mountain and requires rock scrambling along the cliff edges. The trail was always wide enough to be safe, however you do spend most of the hike up on the cliff edges.
I usually can push past my (mild) fear of heights, but I admit that I was filled with regret as we hiked this. My husband, on the other hand, thought it was the one of the best hikes we’ve ever done.
So if you’re scared of heights, heed the warning sign at the beginning of the trail.
Can I Climb Back Down the Rock Scramble?
This trail was designed to be a one-way path.
Go up the rock scramble, not down.
Even if you’re perfectly capable of climbing down, keep in mind that there will (almost certainly) be someone climbing up right behind you, and there won’t be room for passing. The Beehive is a busy trail, even when it’s not peak season at Acadia.
What Equipment Should I Bring?
Wear shoes that grip well, such as these Keen hiking boots.
If you take a trekking pole, know that it will need to be strapped to your daypack almost the whole way up. If you typically use a trekking pole, you might want it on the way down, but the trek down is fairly easy.
Check out my guide to the best women’s hiking shoes and boots if you’re in the market for a new pair!
Getting to the Trailhead
There’s a parking lot for Sand Beach on the left just past the Beehive Trailhead.
But: this trail is remarkably popular, and long before you arrive at the parking lot, you’ll likely see cars parked along side the road for this trail.
If possible, I recommend going early in the day, especially if you’re there in peak season. We hiked this trail in the mid-afternoon and had to park fairly far from the trailhead, even though we were there off-season in mid-September.
Hiking the Beehive Trail
The trailhead marker will list the Bowl Trail first.
It’s okay, you’re in the right place!
Follow the blue trail blazes along the Bowl Trail.
This section is rocky but not steep.
You’ll pretty quickly arrive at the Beehive Trail marker.
Pretty quickly, the trail begins going up.
Happily, you’ll have gorgeous views of the ocean to keep you motivated.
Anytime you get tired on this hike, take a break and check out the views.
You’ll go up some stone stairs.
And then more stone stairs.
When you reach the horizonal ladder (pictured below), this is where the exposed cliff edges begin.
If you’re scared of heights and decided to hike this anyway, it helps to look at the rock ahead of you, not out at the view (as pretty as it is). Whatever you do, don’t look down.
You’ll quickly arrive at the first ladder on the trail.
Go up, making sure to pay attention to where the blue trail blazes go at the end of the ladder.
The next rung and ladder section was (in my opinion) absolutely breathtaking.
As we climbed up, I kept wondering about who built this trail. It’s quite an accomplishment!
The leaves were just starting to change colors when we hiked this trail.
We kept getting glimpses of bright red leaves around small ponds below.
When you get to the next set of ladder rungs, you know what to do.
Keep on climbing.
And then, you’ve made it!
From here on out, the trail will be a breeze.
Enjoy the views from the top of the ladder section, and then head on over to the mountain summit for even better views.
While we were sitting at the top, a kid walked up to the viewpoint and said disappointedly, “That’s it?”
Yup, that’s it, kid. That’s it.
Whether or not you’re impressed with the view (I was), take a moment to rest.
And then continue on the trail down the mountain.
Don’t forget to look for the blue trail blazes when the trail is a little unclear.
When you reach the next trail marker, you can head back down towards the parking lot by following the signs for Loop Road and Sand Beach, or you can follow the Bowl Trail to get a view of Bowl Pond.
We headed back to the parking lot.
The trail down is fairly easy, especially compared to the trail up!
There is quite a bit of downhill, though (as you probably expected).
When you’re almost at the end of the trail, look up at the mountain on your left.
That’s the Beehive!
If it’s a busy day on the Beehive Trail, you’ll probably be able to see people hiking up!
Continue walking back to your car, and enjoy the rest of your time at Acadia.