Five of the most stunning Acadia National Park hiking options plus all the info you need to explore them – get your pack ready!
Acadia National Park in Maine, also called the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast, is a dream destination for hikers. One of the most visited parks in America, it’s home to some of the most amazing hiking, mountain biking, and running trails with unique characteristics to lure you in at any time of year.
From easy day hikes to strenuous multiday options, Acadia National Park has 158 miles of trails and something to offer for everyone. Even if you wish to just take an evening stroll along the ocean, you walk away with spectacular views.
In this article, you’ll find:
- 5 of the best hikes in Acadia National Park
- Acadia entrance fees
- Accommodation and camping close to the park
- When to visit Acadia National Park
- How to get there
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The Beehive Trail
One of the most sought after Acadia National Park hiking options is the Beehive trail. Most of the trail is a steep climb, with iron rungs to lend you support when needed. While it may seem a bit daunting in the beginning, the majestic views that stretch out from the summit make up for the hardship.
It’s recommended to start early in the morning for this hike. The trailhead for the Beehive Trail begins at the Sand Beach parking lot, from where the initial 10 minutes of the hike is along a rough path of small boulders. Once you cross that, there’s a sharp fork on the trail takes that takes you uphill. Most of the ascent involves steep climbing and scrambling through iron rungs, big boulders and wooden plans and when you finally reach the summit, the view that unfolds is pretty amazing. You get to see panoramic views of the Sand Beach and Frenchman’s Bay.
For the return, you could either choose to go down the way you came up or take the trail from the back side.
Difficulty level: Moderate to Difficult
Average time for the hike: 2 to 3 hours
Distance: 1.4 miles
Ocean Path Hiking Trail
The Ocean Path trail is for the families and is one of the easier Acadia hikes. It’s a fairly simple route, mostly along the granite shoreline from Sand Beach to Otter Point, or vice versa. With most of the trail being flat, all you need to do is make sure you keep yourself safe on the trail and be cautious of the areas where hiking isn’t allowed.
The trailhead can be started either from the Sand Beach or Otter Point parking lot, or at any parking lot in between the two, depending on your convenience and availability. Though the Ocean Path trail is an easy one, the views you get while on the hike are stunning.
Some of the most popular viewpoints in the Ocean Path trail are the Thunder Hole and the Otter Cliff.
The Thunder Hole viewing area, true to its name, demonstrates waves and tides like thunder. As you make your way towards the Otter point, you get picturesque views of the Otter Cliff. One more vantage point just before the Otter Cliff is the Monument Cove which is particularly popular during sunrise, where the morning light gives the boulders an altogether glorious shine.
Difficulty level: Easy
Average time for the hike: 2 to 2.5 hours
Distance: 2.2 miles from Sand Beach to Otter Point
Looking for more adventures? Check out this awesome US Bucket List!
Cadillac Summit Loop Trail
The Cadillac Summit Loop Trail is the easiest of the hikes in the article, which spans for around 1 km (round loop). At a very accessible distance of 500m from the parking lot, you find yourself at the top of Cadillac mountains with breathtaking views. You also get to see the Schoodic Peninsula to the east, and the Cranberry Isles a little down the trail. Southwest of the Cranberry Isles, you can spot the Swan’s Island and Frenchboro.
This trail is suited for all types of hikers and is best done for sunrise. Since it is an easy hike, you can expect to see a lot of crowds in the morning. At around 7:30 to 8, the crowd subsides and you can spend some quality time there.
A brisk morning stroll in the Cadillac Summit Loop trail rewards you with some of the best views in the vicinity.
Difficulty level: Easy
Average time for the hike: 0.5 to 1 hours
Distance: 1 mile
South Bubble Trail
The South Bubble trail is mainly popular for two things: firstly, the gorgeous views of the Jordan Pond you get to see from the summit and, secondly, the large Bubble rock at the top. The white granite boulder is said to have been deposited at the cliff by glaciers many thousands ago. The boulder stands right on the edge of the cliff, you almost feel like it can be pushed away.
The trail starts from the Bubble Pond Parking Lot and from there you follow the Bubbles Divide Trail till you hike to the summit of the Bubble Rock. The trail is fairly easy, mostly uphill with a steady ascent. Once you reach the bubble rock, you can see the Jordan Pond spanning the area. For the descent, you could take the South Bubble trail which leads you to Jordan Pond, and then leads you to Jordan Pond House. Though you get to see the Jordan Pond up close, you aren’t allowed to swim in the pond.
Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
Average time for the hike: 1 to 2 hours
Distance: 1.4 miles
Gorham Mountain Trail
The Gorham Mountain Trail is a fun and enjoyable hike that balances both the easy and adventurous parts.
The trail starts with the Sands Beach and then follows the Ocean Path to reach the Gorham Mountain. The trail along the Ocean Path is busier and an easy, breezy walk, while the adventure starts as you enter the mountain and also becomes less crowded. It starts off in the woods, and soon after you find yourself trekking over granite stones.
Midway through the hike, you also have options to explore part to the Cadillac Cliffs trail or the Beehive trail. Continuing along the Gorham Mountain trail takes you to a viewpoint which is just an overlook before the summit.
For the summit, you would have to hike up a little further and a board at the top tells you that you have reached the peak. The ocean views that span from here are wonderful and after spending some time at the top, you could make your way down the Ocean Path to the Sands Beach.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Average time for the hike: 2.5 to 3 hours
Distance: 5 miles
Acadia National Park Visitor’s Info
Acadia National Park Accommodation Options
Camping in the park is an extremely popular option, and, though you’ll find campsites all over, the majority are around Mount Desert Island. Wildcamping or backcountry camping is not permitted.
These campsites are generally open from May to October, prices start from about $20 per tent and cost more for RVs. You can find out more about the Acadia National Park camping options on the park website here.
Hotels, Guesthouses & Airbnb
The biggest concentration of hotels near Acadia National Park are found around Blue Harbour or South West Harbour. For hotels near the park, prices start around $80, with more details on availability and prices available through the search bar below.
Airbnb is also popular in the Acadia area, rates start at around $80 a night. You can save more than $40 dollars off Airbnb with this discount code!
Acadia National Park Entrance Fees
To visit Acadia you must buy a pass which can be done online or at local contact stations. You can find out more at the national park website here. Besides the annual pass, all passes are valid for seven days.
- Private Vehicle (non-commercial, 15 passengers max): $30
- Motorcycle pass for one or two passengers: $25
- Per Person (under 15’s go free): $15
- Acadia Annual Pass (for pass holder and passengers in non-commercial vehicle): $55
Acadia National Park Weather & When to Go
Spring (March to May)
Though most snow has gone, this is still seen as off-season and facilities will run for limited hours. Temperatures will be between -6°C to 10°C and foggy mornings are common but there are also less people, so you can enjoy Acadia’s empty trails and blossoming wildflowers.
Summer (June to August)
The best weather conditions for visiting, with temperatures from 10°C to 21°C, however, this season also brings many more tourists. Accommodation or camping options can difficult to find last minute so make sure you book in advance. Despite the daytime temperatures being warm, the night can still bring a cool breeze so make sure to bring warmer layers too.
Probably the nicest time of year to visit as the autumn sees beautiful woodland colours, making ‘leaf peeping‘ popular. Temperatures will drop to around 5°C to 10°C but crowds are much smaller. Altogether, a very nice time to visit!
Winter (November to February)
The winter brings below-freezing temperatures (-10°C to 0), which, combined with the sea breeze, can make things quite bitter. Much of the amenities in the area shut down, as do park facilities. This is still a stunning time to see raw, frozen landscapes and you’ll have much of the place to yourself. If you’re a fan of winter hiking then you’ll be in your element.
How to Get to Acadia National Park
Bangor is the closest big destination and the U.S 1A takes you south all the way towards the park entrance. The total distance is less than 50 miles. Portland is 164 miles from the park and Route 1 takes you northeast all the way along the coastline to the park.
The main Acadia National Park area is surrounded by the popular Park Loop Road, around Mount Desert Island. Here you’ll find four main entrances to the park and area where you can buy park permits.
Acadia National Park Hiking: 5 of the Best Trails
This was a guest post by Mark from Outdoorily
So, that’s it for the article guys. I hope this article helped you choose an Acadia National Park hiking trail and plan your next adventure!
Have you been to Acadia National Park before and hiked up any of these trails, or maybe different ones? Or are you planning a hike real soon? Share your experiences in the comments, I would love to hear them!
Have fun and most importantly stay safe 🙂
Author’s BIO: Mark Bennett is an American writer and traveller, whose major inspiration has been camping with his father ever since his childhood. He aims to visit 75 countries before he’s 30. You can also follow his adventures on his site Outdoorily.