Would any trip to Maine really be complete without a visit to Acadia National Park? And the correct answer to that question is an emphatic no since this next-level gorgeous park is easily one of the most beautiful places in Maine. As a result, you obviously need a hella awesome list of some of the best hikes in Acadia National Park.
And gosh darn it, I am just the girl to give you all the sage advice that you can handle about all of the best hikes in Acadia.
After all, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited Acadia and walked along these immortal trails.
Which makes sense since Acadia is easily one of my all-time fave national parks in the US. But it’s also a big place. Like, 47,000 acres big to be precise.
And if you have limited time in the park, you don’t really want to waste your time on less than stellar hikes that won’t introduce you to some of the most stunning landscapes that this exquisite place is known for.
Therefore, I’ve created this handy guide to some of the best hikes in Acadia National Park. It not only features a variety of different trails that are suitable for hikers of every skill level, but it also contains a wealth of secret expert tips that will help you plan the perfect Acadia National Park vacation.
You know so that you can actually look back on your vacation fondly and not cry about that time that you almost got eaten by a bear. LOL.
Because guess what? They are over 150 miles of hiking trails in Acadia. And it can be really difficult to find the best trails in Acadia National Park for YOU.
So, whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll through the woods or for a strenuous, sweat-inducing, monumental climb up a sheer cliff face that is bedazzled with iron rungs, Acadia really does have something special for you.
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Pro Tip: Before you explore the great wilds of Acadia National Park, definitely come prepared, and be sure to grab yourself a waterproof map of the park. It will help you navigate your way through this natural oasis of awesomeness if you should happen to get lost or lose sight of sometimes hard-to-find trail markers.
Also please note that to get into Acadia for the day, you’ll need to pay $25 per vehicle or $15 per person. Therefore, depending on how many national parks you plan on visting this year, you may want to get an America the Beautiful Pass since it costs just $80 and gives you “free” admission to all of the national parks in the US for a solid year.
Best Hikes in Acadia National Park – Easy
1. Ocean Path
Looking for one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park? If so then the Ocean Path is totes McGotes for you!
I mean, it’s easily one of the most iconic trails in the entire park since it features a series of mesmerizing pink granite rock formations that are nestled along the coast and that are truly awe-inspiring to behold.
It’s also one of those hikes in Acadia National Park that is perfect for the entire family since it’s a pretty easy trail to traverse that takes you along the rugged coast of the Atlantic – all the way from Sand Beach to Otter Point.
And, added bonus? You can marvel at some of the park’s most famous landmarks along the way, including Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Monument Cove, Otter Cliff, Boulder Beach, and more.
So, if you want to try this wicked awesome trail for yourself, then head to the Sand Beach Parking Lot (it’s just off the Park Loop Road about a 1/2 mile from the park entrance), park your car, and make your way to the stairs above Sand Beach.
Next, follow the well-maintained, mostly gravel trail to the right and then mosey your way on down the coast. Just give yourself plenty of time to explore some of the side trails here since they will lead you to a ton of super cool viewpoints along the way.
Also, be on the lookout for Otter Cliff. It’s a dramatic natural landscape that is home to a series of amazing granite rock formations near Otter Point (this is a great place to watch the sunset and relax before returning to your car).
Pro Tip: You definitely do not have to hike the entire length of the trail to enjoy the awesomeness of the Ocean Path. If you want, just park at one of the lots along the way and take a quick stroll so that you can watch the Atlantic Ocean crash up against the exquisite granite shoreline here. This is also a popular hiking spot so the lot here will fill up fast in the summer. Therefore, get here early or park in one of the many overflow parking lots in the area.
Length: 4.0 miles round trip (From Sand Beach to Otter Point. It’ll take about two to three hours to complete)
Elevation Gain: Pretty level. No real elevation gain.
2. Bass Harbor Head Light Trail
If you’re looking to see one of the most immortal landmarks in the entire park, then say hello to your new best friend, the Bass Harbor Head Light Trail.
Not only is it an incredibly easy walk (even this self-proclaimed couch potato had zero problems), but it takes you to the one and only, Bass Harbor Head Light – a historic lighthouse that was first constructed in 1876 and that sits along the southern edge of Mount Desert Island.
And while you can’t actually visit the lighthouse itself, you can drive to the surrounding area and take a quick walk to an overlook. A place where you can procure stunning photo ops of this lovely little lighthouse, which quietly sits along the coast.
It’s also a fairly easy place to get to since you just need to drive south on Route 102 and then take Route 102A to Lighthouse Road and its associated parking area.
From here, take a short trail into the woods and to the edge of the lighthouse area. You’ll then see a wooden boardwalk that will lead you down to a viewing area where you can snap a photo or two of this amazing local landmark.
You can also climb on top of the rocks here for a primo photo-op. Just be super careful since they are routinely covered in slime (blech) and can be super slippery.
And if you want to explore this section of the park even further, then you can always hop on one of the older trails here. Just head east from the top of the wooden staircase and walk along the coast for about a half-mile to enjoy impressive views of the surrounding area.
Pro Tip: This s one of those best hikes in Acadia National Park that you NEED to do, especially if it’s your first time here. And for the best experience possible, pair this walk with a leisurely trek along the Ship Harbor Trail or the Wonderland Trail. You’ll also want to get here SUPER early in the summer since this place is popular with a capital “P”.
Length: 1.5 miles round trip (This hike should take around 30 minutes to complete).
Elevation Gain: 100-foot descent to a viewing area
3. Sundew Trail
This well-maintained, easy-to-follow, out-and-back trail sits on the Schoodic Peninsula and is just a little bit north of Schoodic Point.
So, if you’re in the area anyway, then definitely check out one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park – especially since can easily access the trailhead from the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus.
Just drive along the Schoodic Loop Road and turn right onto Schoodic Point Road. Continue for around a quarter of a mile and park at the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus – in a parking lot by a green water tower that sits near Eliot Hall.
Once here, you’ll find that the Sundew Trail starts near the edge of the forest. Hike for about a quarter of a mile and you’ll come to a junction with a spur trail. Continue onto this trail for stellar views of the coast and Mount Desert Island.
Afterward, hop back on the main trail and walk until you reach a second viewpoint of a lovely beach with these large chunks of pink granite. Explore the area for a bit and then continue walking until you hit a third overlook of West Pond Cove.
And while this area is pretty picturesque, it’s not a great place to explore since there are a ton of trees right along the coast.
So, once you’ve taken about all the photos you can handle, feel free to go back the way you came or return to your car using some of the many roads through the campus here.
Pro Tip: Honestly, I wouldn’t go to this area just to do this hike. But, if you have a bit of extra time and are planning to visit Schoodic Point anyway, then you can always add this to your itinerary.
Length: 1.8 miles round trip (This hike should take around 40 -90 minutes to complete).
Elevation Gain: 137 feet
4. Jordan Pond
Looking for an easy hike through Acadia that is also next-level stunning? Then the Jordan Pond Trail is where it’s at!
Not only is it one of the single best hikes in Acadia National Park, but it’s also a lovely, 3.4-mile loop trail that will take you all along the perimeter of the deepest (and second-largest) lake in the park.
So, prepare to be amazed by the stunning views all around you as you stroll along the banks of this quaint, not-so-little pond.
Just be prepared for crowds since there’s a restaurant here (it’s worth a visit since the views are lovely and the food is pretty good) and this is one of those trails in Acadia National Park that is definitely NOT a secret.
But, that’s okay since there are a ton of fun boardwalks here that help protect the fragile ecosystem and that will take you to a few sandy areas where you can chillax and look for local beavers.
FYI, there also may be a muddy spot or two along the way – as well as a bit of rocky terrain that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
Pro Tip: The best time to visit is any time between April and October. Although, if you visit during the summer, you’ll want to get here early to avoid huge crowds and secure a parking spot. Dogs are also allowed on this hike but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Length: 3.4 miles (This hike will take anywhere between 1 and 2 hours)
Elevation Gain: 95 feet
5. Great Head Trail
Another one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park that is super easy and perfect for the entire family – including small children who tend not to listen.
Especially since this relatively flat, scenic hike takes you along the edge of the Great Head peninsula and to the eastern side of Sand Beach.
So, to enjoy this hike for yourself, get here early (like before the crack of dawn) and park in the lower Sand Beach Parking lot, which is just off the Park Loop Road.
Take the steps here to Sand Beach and walk towards a small pond and stream that drain into the ocean to find the trailhead.
Follow the trail, being on the lookout for those nifty little blue lines that are also known as trail markers, and do a quick initial scramble up some of the cliffs here.
Once at the top, the trail will level out as you make your way around the peninsula. Go as fast or as slow as you like since there are a ton of places where you can take a break, enjoy the view, and check out the rock formations here, like at the highpoint of Great Head (Seriously, do not miss this spot because the views are epic).
As you continue your walk, you’ll eventually reach an intersection where you can either go back to Sand Beach or take a longer loop up the coast.
Depending on how tired you’d are, I’d go with the bigger loop since there are a couple of nice overlooks right in this area.
Regardless of the path, you choose though, you’ll eventually hit the end of the trail, which morphs into this dirt road that will take you back to Sand Beach.
Pro Tip: If you can, do this hike counter-clock-wise since there are several large stone slopes that are infinitely easier to climb up than go down. So, go to the right when you start from the steps at the top of the beach. You’ll also want to spend some time at the beach itself since it’s basically the only sandy beach in Acadia and offers impressive views of nearby cliffs.
Length: 1.8 miles (for the full loop and it will take between 1 and 2 hours to complete)
Elevation Gain: 265 feet
Best Hikes in Acadia National Park -Moderate
6. Cadillac Mountain
If you only do one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park, then let this be it since Cadillac Mountain is easily the most famous peak in the entire region.
And that’s probably because Cadillac Mountain is THE tallest mountain in Acadia National Park and is just an all-around fantastic place to watch the sunrise. After all, the views are next-level stellar.
Plus, added bonus? If you make it in time for sunrise then you’ll have a front-row seat to the very first sunrise in the good old US of A. So yeah, that’s also a another fun little nugget of knowledge for ya.
However, before you channel your inner badass human and climb this mountain like a total boss, you’ll first need to decide which glorious route you wanna take to the top – the South Ridge Trail or the North Ridge Trail.
Personally, I’m lazy and hate mornings. Therefore, I’d opt for the shortest route up to the top, which is the 4 mile, out and back, North Ridge Trail.
it’s also pretty popular since it’s the quickest way to get up the mountain in time for sunrise. So yeah, be prepared for crowds – especially in the summer. Also, be extra careful when climbing through exposed granite rock faces.
In contrast, the South Ridge Trail is a LONG 7.1-mile loop trail that takes you up this mammoth, 1,329-foot mountain.
Eventually, you’ll climb up and on top of the ridgeline, where you can savor sweet sweet views from the overlook at the Eagle Crag spur loop.
You can also rest up a bit at Featherbed Pond before making the final push to the summit.
Pro Tip: If you want you can also just drive up to the summit, park there, and then do the easy, half-mile, Cadillac Summit Loop. It’s a short, 30-minute hike that is perfect for anyone who doesn’t really feel like doing a 4+ mile hike at the a$$ crack of dawn.
Length: 4.0 miles (It will probably take you anywhere between two and four hours to do this hike, depending on your pace)
Elevation Gain: 1,118 feet
7. Gorham Mountain Trail
Standing at a mere 525 feet tall, Gorham Mountain is one of the smaller peaks in the area. But, it’s also just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Ocean Path and, therefore, offers supremely sensational views of the nearby Atlantic Ocean.
And although this hike may sound short and sweet since it’s a mere two-miles long, it can get steep in sections and hikers should be aware of that before starting out on this trail.
But, if you want to give it a shot, just head to the Gorham Mountain parking lot (it’s right after the lot for Thunder Hole) and follow the trail through the forest until you hot the Waldron Bates Memorial Plaque.
You’ll then enjoy a moderate, uphill climb that even includes a few sets of well-placed steps. Eventually, you’ll come out above the cliffs and find great panoramas of Otter Point.
Afterward, walk along a granite ridgeline that will take you to the summit of the mountain. Feel free to hang out here for a bit and look out at Sand Beach and Great Head before going back down the way you came.
Afterward, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you could access the Cadillac Cliffs Trails on the way down and walk along the ocean side of the cliffs.
Sure, you’ll encounter a bit of scrambling since this trail is steep, but you’ll go past a cool cave and will quickly rejoin the main trail at the Waldron Bates Memorial Plaque.
Pro Tip: Try to visit during the blueberry season (July through August) since a ton of blueberries grow in the area. You can also use the free Island Explorer shuttle bus service to avoid parking issues during the summer.
Length: 2 miles (This hike will take anywhere between 1 and 2 hours)
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
8. South Bubble Trail
Home to one of the most impressive views in all of Acadia National Park is the South Bubble Trail.
Because as you embark on this uber-popular hike, you’ll marvel at aerial views of Jordan Pond and several aptly named bubbles across the lake (well-named South Bubble and North Bubble).
And another impressive feature of this awesome hike? None other than Bubble Rock, aka Balanced Rock. It’s basically a giant boulder that precariously sits on the edge of a cliff.
Now, to enjoy this hike for yourself, just park at the Bubbles Parking Lot, and find the “Bubbles Divide” Trailhead. Once you’re actually on the trail, it’ll be pretty easy to follow since it’s well-kept and makes a slow climb through the forest here,
Eventually, you’ll see the North Bubble spur trail on your right and will then hit the South Bubble spur trail on your left. Follow this trail and head to the summit of South Bubble.
Continue a bit further and you’ll find a tiny side trail that will take you to Bubble Rock. Yeah, not gon a lie, you can’t really leave without seeing this awesome rock formation first.
From here, you could either go back the way you came or continue along the trail, descending the cliffs to Jordan Pond. It can be steep though since there are some exposed sections with some scrambling, so be sure you have the right gear before you make the climb down.
And then when you finally do make it to the bottom, you’ll go through a forested area and hit the Jordan Pond Trail.
Feel free to either turn left and take the Jordon Pond Carry Trail back to the Bubbles parking lot or turn right and take the longer, infinitely more scenic route along Jordan Pond (you’ll eventually use the Bubbles Divide Trai to go back to the parking lot).
Pro Tip: This hike is perfect for first-timers to the park since it will introduce you to some of the area’s most popular attractions. Just be sure to arrive early, especially in the summer, since this is an incredibly popular hike through Acadia.
Length: 1.2 miles (1.7 miles if you do the loop trail. Therefore, this hike should take between 1 and 2 hours to complete)
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Best Hikes in Acadia National Park – Difficult
9. Precipice Trail
Just a mile north of the Beehive Trail is one of the most exhilarating hikes in Acadia National Park – the Precipice Trail. It’s a trail that will take you up steep cliffs, past local fault lines, and along iron rungs/ladders to the top of Champlain Mountain (the 6th tallest mountain in the park).
Is it an easy trail to traverse? Hell to the no since it’s pretty dang difficult and not really a leisurely hike through the woods. Instead, it’s more of an intense climb up the side of a mountain and should really only be undertaken by serious hikers who know what they’re doing.
So, if this still sounds like a trek you’d enjoy, then drive on over to the Precipice Trail parking lot near the Sieur de Monts Entrance. You’ll begin by going up a granite staircase that quickly turns into a rugged outcropping of boulders with two iron rungs to assist you in your climb (If this section gives you trouble then definitely go back).
You’ll then continue upwards with iron rungs placed along the way as you navigate through a field of boulders and climb a ledge system along a series of cliffs. There’s also a wonky railing in place that is actually way more helpful than it looks.
Next, cross a wooden bridge and climb up several steps until you reach a junction in the trail. Go left and make a diagonal climb up to several ladders that will lead you to a ledge along the cliffs with excellent views.
You’ll then continue zig-zagging your way up the trail with various ladders and iron rungs to help you along the way. Not gonna lie, it’s equal parts thrilling and terrifying as you make your way to the summit of Champlain Mountain.
Once here, admire the views of Dorr Mountain before making your way back down the mountain via a loop hike along the Champlain North Ridge Trail (don’t go back the way you came) You’ll then hop on the Orange and Black Path and connect up with the start of the Precipice Trail before eventually making your way back to the parking lot.
Pro Tip: This is one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park that is not to be taken likely. So, if you’re unsure if you can complete this hike before dark or are worried about changing weather conditions, do NOT do this hike since it is intense and is just not as forgiving as many of the other hikes on this list. This hike is also routinely closed between March 15 and August 15 for peregrine falcon nesting season.
Length: 1 mile to the summit of Champlain Mountain and 2.6 miles if you do the loop trail (this hike will take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete)
Elevation Gain: 850 feet
10. Beehive Trail
I know what you’re thinking. You probably see the mileage on this hike and think, “Pssh, piece of cake”.
However, let me be the first one to inform you that this is one of the best hikes in Maine that is most assuredly the antithesis of easy.
So, if you’re up for a bit of challenge, then hop on the trailhead, which sits right across the street from the entrance to Sand Beach.
Once on the trail, this hike starts off with a bang and features a nifty little rock scramble right as you join the trail. You’ll also climb a set of steps as you make your way through the forest to some exposed rocky areas.
Along the way. keep an eye out for several light blue trail markers and use iron rungs, bridges, and handholds to navigate along intense sections of the trail.
Because as you get further up, the trail basically becomes vertical. Therefore, you’ll have to use ladders and do a few narrow walks along the edge of a cliff (So yeah, if you’re scared of heights this may not be the hike for you) to complete one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park and savor some epic views of Sand Dollar Beach.
Pro Tip: For the trip back you can either do a loop down the back of the mountain or just return the way you came.
Length: 1.4 miles (this hike should take you about an hour and a half to complete)
Elevation Gain: 488 feet
11. Jordan Cliffs Trail
Looking for another one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park that has iron rugs, iron rungs, and, oh yeah, more iron rungs? If so then check out the Jordan Cliffs Trail.
And, added awesomeness? It’s not quite as treacherous as either the Beehive Trail or the Precipice Trail so you won’t have to worry about low-key falling off the side of a mountain.
In all seriousness though, this trial is still pretty intense and not to be taken lightly. But if you’re up for it. you’ll be treated to sick views of Jordan Pond from the top of Penobscot Mountain after a tough climb across various cliff bands.
So, to embark on this rigorous hike of awesome, park at the Jordan Pond North lot and then walk to the boat launch. Once there, turn left and follow the path along the shore. Then take the carriage road north and make a left at post 14. You’ll see the trailhead on your right and can begin this intense climb from here.
Pretty quickly, the hike will get more-than-a-little tough as you hike up exposed areas, through heavily forested cliff bands, and across paths with loose rocks and tree rocks. Therefore, definitely watch your step.
You’ll know you’ve hit the halfway point when you reach an old set of wooden stairs that take you down a cliff here. Continue upwards and use the handrails in this section of the trail for support before ascending an iron rung ladder to reach a junction with the Penobscot East Trail.
Once here, make a left and enjoy the buffet of stellar views on the way to the summit. After savoring the scenic beauty at the top for a hot minute, use the Penobscot Mountain trail to climb down the mountain.
And when you finally reach a fork in the trail, make a left onto the Spring Trail and zig-zag your way down the mountain. Just be careful on this part of the trail since it can be a bit rough.
Eventually, you’ll hit the Carriage Road and can use that (or the Spring Trail) to make your way back to the Jordan Pond parking area.
Pro Tip: FYI, this trail is usually not accessible between March 15 and August 15 for peregrine falcon nesting season.
Length: 1.6 miles to the summit of Penobscot Mountain and 3.5/5 miles for the full loop trail (It will take you between 2 and 3 hours to summit Penobscot Mountain and between 4 and 6 hours to do the entire loop)
Elevation Gain: 940 feet
12. Dorr Mountain via the Ladder Trail
Not gonna lie, the ladder trail up Dorr Mountain is easily one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park. It’s also no joke since this hike is steep AF and requires you to traverse iron rungs and a few well-placed ladders.
But, your hard work will be rewarded with sweet, sweet views from the summit. So, yeah, it’s definitely worth it.
Now, to get to the trailhead, enter the park via the Sieur de Monts Entrance and drive past the Tarn (a local lake). Once here, you’ll see a gravel pullover spot (with a trailhead marker on the edge of the woods) where you can park.
Get out and follow the trail until you get to the Kane Path junction. From here, the path will begin to get infinitely steeper so you’ll need to climb up a set of steps and an old iron ladder to get up the mountain.
Continue on and make your way up some iron rungs, another ladder, and another set of steps before hitting the Schiff Path.
Thankfully though, the trail evens out a bit here and isn’t quite as intense as you push to the top of Dorr Mountain, where you can see Cadillac Mountain off in the distance.
From here, just use the Dorr Mountain South Ridge Trail to climb down since the descent isn’t too steep and the views are pretty stellar. Once at the bottom, take the Canon Brook Trail, past a pond with an awesome beaver dam, back to the start of the trail.
Pro Tip: Want an even more challenging hike? Then just continue on and up Cadillac Mountain.
Length: 3.5 miles (this trail will take between 3 and 5 hours to complete)
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet (yeah, it’s a steep trail)
Free Acadia National Park Map
Additional Maine Resources You’ll Love
- 13 Best Hikes in Maine
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- 15 Romantic Getaways in Maine
- The Best Time to Visit Maine
- 15 Stunning Beach Towns in Maine
- Best Lighthouses in Portland Maine
Well my outdoor-loving friend, insert beyond magical jazz hands here because that just about wraps up this epic post on the best hikes in Acadia National Park.
So, go forth, use this guide well, and be the total hiking badass that I know you are.
And if you found this post useful, don’t forget to pin it now so that you can read it again later!