10 Best Hikes In Acadia National Park: Best Acadia Hikes & Trails
Acadia is a gem of the U.S. east coast, and some of the best hikes in Acadia National Park include cliff trails, quiet ponds, historic Maine lighthouses, and ocean views.
This park has hiking trails for all types and ages. Some of the cliff hikes can be difficult and dangerous to navigate, but most of the Acadia trails are family friendly and easy for beginners.
We’ve spent weeks exploring this national park during the autumn season, and it’s always such a great experience. The park has more than 47,000 acres of coastal scenery, and the changing leaf colors in the fall make it even more stunning.
This is my guide to the best Acadia hikes and trails! In my opinion, these are some of the very best hikes in Acadia National Park.
Where To Stay In Acadia
Best Hikes In Acadia National Park
1. Beehive Trail
This is a fun cliff trail with amazing views of Acadia National Park, and it’s also one of the best fall foliage hikes in the park.
The Beehive Trail is not as difficult or hazardous as the Precipice Trail (below), but it still has some rung climbing sections and a few steep drop-offs. This is a good gateway hike if you’re thinking about hiking Precipice Trail.
I wouldn’t recommend this hike for people with mobility issues, kids, or anyone who isn’t fairly comfortable with heights. I also wouldn’t attempt it when the path is wet or icy, because a slip in those conditions could be fatal.
At the summit, the views are spectacular: you can see Sand Beach and Great Head below, plus the Acadia coastline and small islands in the distance.
This is a loop hike, so the way back down is on a different path. The second part of the hike (going down) is much easier and safer than the way up. You can complete the whole loop hike in 1 or 2 hours.
The trailhead for Beehive is located near Sand Beach, and parking fills up fast, so it’s best to go early. It’s well worth the climb!
Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
2. Precipice Trail
The Precipice Trail is the premier hike of Acadia National Park, but it’s also the most dangerous. It’s kind of like the Angels Landing hike of the U.S. east coast, except even more precarious.
The views on this hike are amazing, and it’s quite an adrenaline rush. You’ll squeeze between huge boulders, scale a steep mountain using metal ladders, and shimmy along exposed cliff edges that are only a few feet wide. It’s definitely one of the most thrilling hikes in Maine and the U.S. national parks!
There are times where you’re climbing a vertical ladder with steep drop-offs on all sides, and a fair number of people have died on this trail, so it’s not one to take lightly.
I would highly recommend hiking the Beehive Trail before you even consider attempting the Precipice Trail. Beehive is like a shorter, easier, and safer version of Precipice, so if you struggle with it at all then you’ll know Precipice is not a good fit for you.
I wouldn’t recommend Precipice for people with mobility issues, kids, or anyone who isn’t comfortable with heights. I also wouldn’t attempt it when the path is wet or icy, because a slip in those conditions could be fatal.
This is a loop hike, so the way back down is on a different path. The second part of the hike (going down) is much easier and safer than the way up. You can reach the top in about 1.5 hours of climbing, and then the return goes quite a bit quicker.
If you’re looking for thrills and adrenaline, this is definitely one of the best Acadia National Park trails!
3. Jordan Pond Loop
This is a flat, easy hike that loops around the Jordan Pond, which is one of the most iconic sights in Acadia.
Jordan Pond is known for being the clearest lake in Maine, and also the deepest lake in Acadia National Park. They say it’s normally possible to see 45 feet (15 meters) below the surface.
You can circle the whole pond in about 1.5 to 2 hours, although there are a few spots where the path is muddy or narrow. When you’re finished, treat yourself with popovers (baked rolls) at the Jordan House Restaurant.
During fall foliage season, there are nice leaf colors on all sides of Jordan Pond, although the best foliage can be seen on the north side of the pond.
4. South Bubble Trail
This is a short, easy hike to the top of South Bubble Mountain, where you get stunning views of the Jordan Pond from above. It also has some of the best fall foliage of any hike in Acadia National Park.
Along the way, you get to stop and see a giant granite boulder called the Bubble Rock, which is perched on a cliff with panoramic views of Park Loop Road and the forest below.
The difficulty of this hike depends on where you start and how far you go. If you start from the very small parking lot at Bubbles Divide, you can reach the top of South Bubble in less than 30 minutes.
However, if you start the hike from farther away at Jordan Pond, or continue the hike beyond the South Bubble, then it can be a longer and more strenuous adventure. Either way, it’s definitely one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park!
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
5. Ocean Path
This is a flat, easy walk along the most scenic coastline of Acadia National Park, with several nice viewpoints to stop and take pictures along the way.
The full ocean trail goes from Sand Beach to Otter Point, and it’s about 4.5 miles roundtrip. It’s a flat path in good condition all the way, so anyone can do it. It’s one of the easiest Acadia hikes!
You can make this hike as short or long as you want, or just do a few of the best sections and skip the rest. There are parking lots at several noteworthy points along the trail.
One of the best spots to see along the trail is definitely Thunder Hole, which is located at the halfway point. This is a crevice in the rocks where the waves blast and make a ‘boom’ sound. The timing is everything, so it’s best to come here around high tide.
6. Cadillac Summit Loop
Cadillac Mountain is one of the most popular sunrise spots in Acadia National Park. Because of its location, it’s also known as the first place in the United States to see the sunrise. Remember, Acadia is the easternmost national park in the U.S.
You can drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and see the sunrise without any hiking, although it’s very busy and vehicle reservations are required much of the year. Sunset can also be a nice time for photos, and reservations aren’t needed for that.
At the summit parking lot, there’s a short loop trail with panoramic views of Acadia, Bar Harbor, and the many small islands surrounding it. You can walk this full loop in about 30 minutes, so overall it’s one of the most accessible Acadia hikes.
7. Bass Harbor Lighthouse
This one’s not really a hike per se, but it’s more like an easy stroll on a path down to the coast, where you can see a nice historic Maine lighthouse.
The Bass Harbor Head Light was built in 1858 to protect the entrance to Bass Harbor, which is on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island. It’s the only lighthouse in Acadia National Park.
Parking at the lighthouse is free, but it fills up easily since there are only about 20 parking spots or less. The most popular and busy time to visit is at sunset, but honestly any time of day is nice for taking photos, so I’d avoid sunset unless you’re really intent on seeing it at that time.
8. Beech Mountain Fire Tower
Beech Mountain is a less known hike in Acadia without the crowds, and there’s a historic fire tower at the top with a wonderful panorama. It’s also a great sunset hike.
This is a relatively easy 1.2 mile loop trail that can be finished in less than 1 hour, and it’s fit for all ages and hiking abilities.
You get outstanding views of Long Pond along the way, and then you can climb partway up the fire tower at the summit for 360 degree views of the park. It’s easily one of the best Acadia hikes!
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
9. Flying Mountain
This is a short, relatively easy hike with stellar views of Northeast Harbor and the Somes Sound.
Flying Mountain has less foot traffic than the other hikes in Acadia National Park, and the views are well worth the climb.
There is a bit of elevation gain, but if you’re fit and keep a good pace you can reach the top of the peak in about 20 minutes.
10. Jordan Cliffs Trail
This is another hike at the Jordan Pond, but this one takes you up the narrow cliffs on the west side of the pond.
The Jordan Cliffs Trail is strenuous, but you get amazing views of the lake from a new perspective, and there are less crowds compared to the easier Jordan Pond Loop.
It’s also possible to do this hike as a loop trail that includes the Jordan Pond Loop, the South Bubble Trail, or both.
Fall foliage is nice on the Jordan Cliffs Trail, although the view isn’t too much different from what you see at South Bubble. If you have to choose, I’d do the South Bubble Trail instead of this one.
Map Of The Best Hikes In Acadia National Park
Here’s a map of Acadia trails you can use to plan your trip. You can click the icons to get more info on each point of interest, but keep in mind some of the locations on this map may be approximate.
For more detailed information on how to find the exact starting locations for some of these Acadia National Park hiking trails, you can check out my individual guides for each hike.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
Best Short & Easy Acadia Hikes
Here are some recommendations for the best short and easy Acadia hikes that can be done by older folks, and families with kids:
- Bass Harbor Lighthouse
- Beech Mountain Fire Tower
- Cadillac Summit Loop
- Jordan Pond Loop
- Ocean Path
- Schoodic Peninsula
Keep in mind this is not a complete list of all the family friendly hikes and trails in Acadia National Park, but just a few of our favorites.
Best Acadia Trails For Fall Foliage
If you’re mainly wanting to see fall foliage in Acadia and the changing leaf colors, here are some top trail recommendations:
- Beech Mountain Fire Tower
- Beehive Trail
- Jordan Cliffs Trail
- Jordan Pond Loop
- South Bubble Trail
Again, this is far from a complete list of all the fall foliage hikes in Acadia National Park! These are just a few of our recommendations.
When To See Fall Foliage In Maine
The best time to see fall foliage in coastal Maine (including Acadia) varies from year to year, but it tends to reach peak color sometime around mid-October.
However, the peak date for fall foliage can often happen a week sooner or a week later in October, and it’s also possible to see great colors outside of what is officially labeled the ‘peak.’
You can read about past fall foliage dates (and see some very handy forecasts for the current year) at the Maine state website.
Best Maine Tours
More Acadia Hiking Tips
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this list of the best hikes in Acadia National Park. These have been some of our favorite Acadia hikes over the years.
Don’t forget to check out my other United States hiking guides! I plan to add many more travel guides for Maine and Acadia at a later date.