Hiking Guide Photos 1 2 3
One of the crown jewel features of Acadia National Park is the beautiful coastline with its jagged pink granite formations standing up to the never-ending assault of the ocean’s waves. Ocean Path is a family-friendly trail that follows a dramatic stretch of coastline between Sand Beach and Otter Point. Along the way, you will encounter several famous landmarks, including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Monument Cove, and Otter Cliff. While the trail runs right along the main Park Loop Road, it is well worth it to go for a stroll on this trail. You simply can’t get the full view from within your car.
Ocean Path officially starts at the Sand Beach parking lot, located along the Park Loop Road less than half a mile south of the NPS entrance booths. From the parking lot, head towards the top of the stairs above Sand Beach, then follow the trail right as it heads up to join the road and head down the coast. Note that the Sand Beach lot routinely fills up during the busy summer months, so the biggest challenge of this hike might be finding alternate parking. Parking is permitted in the right-hand lane of the Park Loop Road in several designated sections and there are also several overflow parking lots located down the one-way road. (See map below.) Wherever you park, you can easily pick up the trail which for the most part runs right next to the road.
|Rating:||Easy family stroll on a mostly flat roadside trail|
|Access:||Sand Beach parking lot, Otter Point parking lot, and many lots in between|
|Time Required:||2-3 hours, not including exploration of shoreline|
|Length:||2 miles one-way from Sand Beach to Otter Point|
|Elevation Change:||Mostly level|
|Seasons:||Spring through fall, winter with precautions|
Ocean Path is a well-groomed mostly level gravel trail, so it is a non-strenuous leisurely stroll. Along the way, several trails of use lead off of the main trail and allow exploration of the granite formations. Allow plenty of time for random exploration; there are many terrific little viewpoints along the way. Take care with small children as once you go off the trail, there are many exposed cliffs and slippery rock formations. Please obey any “do not hike here” signs that the park service have posted.
A few key landmarks along the hike are Thunder Hole (a popular touristy spot where waves can sometimes create a thunderous splashes), Monument Cove (a small rocky beach cove with a famous granite formation guarding it from above), and the unofficially-named “Boulder Beach.” Boulder Beach is a section of shoreline covered in ocean-tumbled bowling ball-sized rocks; its easy access from the path makes it quite popular with sunrise photographers.
A quarter of a mile south is the impressive Otter Cliff, an area where the granite formations rise much more dramatically above the water. As such, this area is popular with climbers, so you may spot people rappeling down to ocean level and climbing back up. Past Otter Cliff, the trail starts heading west and officially ends at Otter Point, a great spot for relaxing on the rocks, exploring tide pools and taking in the sunset. Return the way you came.
Whether you hike the entire stretch of Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Point or simply park at one of the numerous lots for a short little stroll, there are countless opportunities to easily access the granite shoreline and enjoy the crashing waves. If this is your first trip to Acadia, definitely do this hike!
VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHS! Return to the Ocean Side
— Update: 03-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article BEECH CLIFF TRAIL (Beech Cliff Loop, Canada Cliffs Trail) from the website www.citrusmilo.com for the keyword best acadia national park hikes.
Hiking Guide Photos 1 2 3
Located on the southwest shore of Echo Lake on the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island, the Beech Cliff Trail is one of Acadia National Park’s classic “iron rung” routes. Although less known than the popular Beehive Trail or Precipice Trail, this clever trail has a series of ladders that take hikers up through some of the most interesting and vertical cliff formations in the park. While this trail doesn’t go all the way to the top of Beech Mountain, the views from the top of the cliffs of the surrounding area.
WARNING: This hike is not suitable for small children or anybody who has a fear of heights or who isn’t steady on their feet.
IMPORTANT: This trail is sometimes closed between March 15 and August 15 for peregrine falcon nesting. (Closure signs are posted at the trailhead.) Please respect these closures and check trail status with the National Park Service.
|Rating:||Fairly strenuous and exposed day hike with numerous iron ladders|
|Access:||Echo Lake Beach parking lot (south end of Echo Lake off of Route 102)|
|Time Required:||2-4 hours|
|Length:||1.8 miles total (including the Beech Cliff Loop and return via Canada Cliffs Trail)|
|Elevation Change:||480-ft elevation gain|
|Seasons:||Late summer through fall (sometimes closed in spring and early summer for peregrine falcon nesting)|
The Beech Cliff Trail starts at the Echo Lake beach parking lot, located at the south end of Echo Lake off of Route 102 (roughly a mile south of the roadside Acadia Mountain parking area). At the north end of the Echo Lake parking lot, find the trailhead marker. The trail starts off innocuously enough, heading north through the dense forest by Echo Lake, but soon enough, the trail turns left/west up into the hills under Beech Cliff. The uphill trail is fairly strenuous, but several sections have steps put in place to make travel easier. A marker indicates a short spur trail to a teaser overlook of Echo Lake now several hundred feet below.
Soon after the teaser view, the trail gets steeper and sections of wooden fence are put in place to help in a few moderately exposed sections. Soon enough, you will reach the fun part of this hike: the ladder section! After climbing up the first iron ladder, the trail heads north and skirts the base of some wonderfully sheer cliffs to arrive at a second taller ladder. After this ladder, there are two more ladders, one right after the other, that take you to the topout spot of the cliffs and the junction with the Beech Cliff Loop Trail and the Canada Cliffs Trail.
At the junction are some wonderfully unhindered views of Echo Lake to the northeast and the Atlantic Ocean far in the distance to the south. Continue north along the short and fun Beech Cliff Loop to be treated to even more views from the top of the cliffs. Note: While this trail is fairly level and easy, take care as there are several exposed sections.
Once you have looped around and are back at the junction, the Canada Cliffs Trail is the logical route back to the Echo Lake parking lot. The trail heads south and makes a much more gradual descent, but it still offers a few great views through the trees. Soon enough, you will be back under the forest canopy and the trail makes a few stream crossings as it wanders through a small ravine. The trail then loops around to the north to return you to the Echo Lake beach parking lot.
With some wonderful views and some spicy sections of trail and interesting ladders, this is really a fun little hike for those who don’t have a fear of heights! While this trail isn’t as exposed as the Precipice Trail, it still could be intimidating for some. For those who would like to see the Beech Cliff Loop without having to climb the ladders, you can alternatively park at the Beech Mountain trailhead and hike up the milder Valley Trail and/or Canada Cliffs Trail to the viewpoints.
VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHS! Return to the Quiet Side