Climb up, up, up into the sky and get panoramic vistas over the breathtaking landscape of Mount Desert Island. The Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park is one of the best short hikes in the country!
Although this hike is not for the faint of heart or individuals with a fear of heights. Along the way, you will have to climb up sheer cliffs 🧗🏻♀️ with sharp elevation gain and use all your limbs to climb iron rungs. It’s an exhilarating trek to the summit!
My husband and I have been to all the National Parks in the Lower 48 and Acadia remains one of our favorites. This trail left a deep impression on us and we constantly think about the beautiful sunset 🌅 we saw at the peak. Despite my husband’s fear of heights, he managed to complete this hike.
Find out everything you need to know about this hike including the best time to go, how to get there, and what you need to pack. You can read all of that in my complete guide below!
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Table of Contents
Beehive Trail Acadia NP Details
Quick Hike Info
Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: About 1000 feet of gain
Type: Loop Trail
Length: 1-3 hours total (depending on your pace and breaks)
Difficulty: Hard (short, steep and you have to climb up rungs)
Where is Acadia National Park?
You can find the scenic and rugged landscape ⛰ of Acadia National Park on the East Coast of Maine. It is situated in the middle of the state on Mount Desert Island. This area is protected because of the unique landscape where the Pine 🌲 covered mountains meet rocky shores below.
Mount Desert Island is just outside of the quaint town of Bar Harbor. You can use this town as a base for your adventures. There are great shops, restaurants 🍝, hotels, and campgrounds around this town.
There are a few ways to get to Acadia National Park including driving and flying.
Driving Times 🚗:
Boston: 4.5 hours
Portland: 3 hours
New York: 8 hours
You can take a flight ✈️ to Boston Airport and take a connecting flight to Bar Harbor. This airport is only 10 miles from the park. Or, you can fly into the Bangor Airport, which is about an hour from the park.
Best Time to Hike the Beehive Trail
You can hike the Beehive Trail in Acadia in the spring, summer and fall. Winter is too dangerous, because the rungs get incredibly icy ❄️ and there can be snow on the trail. Rangers advise that you do not attempt this hike in winter when there has already been winter weather.
Late Spring, early Summer and Fall are some of the best times to hike the Beehive Trail.
Early Spring brings plenty of rain showers 🌧, gloomy days, and cold weather. But, in the late spring the weather starts to warm, the sun begins to shine, and visitors start to head to the park. You can see wildflowers 🌸 along the trail and lush green trees. Early summer looks very similar and continues to get warmer. It’s a wonderful time to hike these trails.
In my opinion, Fall is one of the very best times to visit Acadia, because the colors are incredibly vibrant. Reds and oranges 🍂 cover the trees, while the green pines stand tall. It makes for a magnificent scene. But, it is a popular fall destination, so expect crowds up to Beehive.
July and August can be very hot 🥵, but the mountains are also very lush. These trails are often incredibly crowded, so allow for more time to complete the trail. Make sure to pack plenty of sun protection and water.
Important Things to Know
💵 Acadia costs $30 for a private vehicle that covers 7 day. You can also use any of the annual passes like the America the Beautiful Pass to get in.
☀️ Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Make sure that you stay updated and that you take the proper precautions. If there are signs of bad weather, then stay in the lower elevations.
⛺️There are two campgrounds on Mount Desert Island. Both campgrounds require reservations, which you can get up to six months in advance on recreation.gov.
🦮 Although pets are permitted in many areas of Acadia, they are not allowed on the Beehive Trail.
🚙 Parking is incredibly limited for the Beehive Trail, so you may want to go early in the day or on a week day. You can either park in the right hand lane of the road or in Sand Beach Parking lot.
🍃 Remember to follow the Leave No Trace Principles. As always, you want to leave nature looking better than you found it.
Beehive Trail Details
Getting to The Trail
Beehive Trail is conveniently located off of Park Loop Road at the Sand Beach Parking area.
Once you get to the trailhead area, you can either park in the Sand Beach Parking Lot if there is room or park on the right side of the road. You can enter the trail directly if you park on the side of the road.
If you park at the Sand Beach lot, you’ll need to cross Park Loop Road where you’ll see a large trail sign. Continue past the sign and onto the Bowl Trail for the first part of the hike.
Although technically this trail is a loop trail in either direction, the park recommends that you go counter-clockwise. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to climb down steep rungs with sheer faced cliffs below you.
Through the Woods
The first part of the hike starts off relatively easily as you walk on a flat path through the woods and along a dried creek bed. Don’t be fooled though, this hike will get tough quickly!
Once you get .2 miles into the hike, you’ll see the turn off for the Beehive trail. From there, enter on the path to the right.
Up the Mountain
From there, it’s time to make your ascent up the granite cliffs to the peak. This is where things start to get real 😳.
At this point, you will start the cliff climbing portion of the hike. Along this section you will find a series of iron rungs, ladders 🪜, and iron bars that you have to cross. It’s important to go slowly and watch your footing.
People with a fear of heights may want to skip this hike.
As you continue up, the views start to open up over Sand Beach and the waters beyond. Luckily, there are multiple places to stop and take it all in 📸. In the Fall, the colorful trees paint the landscape below.
Finally, you’ll get over the cliff’s peak and the path will begin to go down a little. Walk another 200 feet or so until you get to the summit. Enjoy stunning panoramic vistas of Acadia all around you. It’s a remarkable scene and well worth the effort to get there.
The Way Back Down
You can continue down from the summit and to the Bowl or you can take the shortcut back to your car.
The Bowl is a small blue lake 💦 that sits below the summit. We did this hike for sunset, so by the time we walked down it was too dark to see the Bowl, so we took the shortcut. This will cut off .2 miles from your hike.
This part of the path goes through the woods over a rocky path. Eventually, you will meet up with the intersection where you started. Turn left and continue .2 miles until it opens back up to the road.
Packing Guide for the Beehive Trail
It’s very important that you wear shoes with good support 🥾. Much of the path is rocky and uneven, and the rungs can be slippery. Proper footwear will help you stay safe and feel sturdy as you make your way to the top.
I also recommend that you bring layers as it can be very chilly at the top. While it may feel calm on the road, it can feel much cooler at the summit. Whenever you go on a hike, even a quick one like the Beehive trail, you should be overly prepared. Safety is of the utmost importance.
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Small Pack
- 1-2 Liters of Water
- Snacks and Food
- First Aid Kit
- Bug Spray
- Hat to block sun
- Rain jacket or light winter jacket
- Satellite phone
- Parks Pass
Last Tips for Hiking the Beehive Trail in Acadia
If you only have time for a quick hike, then the Beehive trail is one of the very best! Below are some safety tips for the Beehive trail, so that you’ll be well prepared.
As you climb up, make sure to watch your footing. If you are going for sunset or sunrise, then be wary of the timing and bring headlamps. Also, make sure to do your research before you go and check that trail conditions are good. Most importantly, take your time and enjoy the trek!
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this trail guide.
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