Looking for the best hikes to go on in Acadia National Park? Acadia National Park is located midway along Maine’s coast, on Mount Desert Island and is roughly 264 miles from Boston.
Acadia has over 120 miles of hiking paths that wind through the park. The hikes cater to anyone as they vary from very easy beach side strolls to strenuous mountaineering adventures.
See Best hikes in America for a complete list of hiking trails in the USA or read our writer's overview of her summit experience on the Mount Katahdin and her treks along the Cutler Coast.
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Acadia National Park is one of America’s oldest national parks and attracts over 3.3 million visitors each year.
The park is reserves most of Mount Desert Island, some of the smaller islands along the coast of Marine and a section of the Schoodic Peninsula on the mainland.
With over 45 miles of roads and 130 miles of hiking trails to explore, hiking and cycling are two of the park's most popular activities.
The park encompasses a diverse variety of landscapes, including woodlands, mountains, coastline and lakes.
There are 26 peaks in the park, the tallest being the Cadillac Mountain which is also the highest point on the US Atlantic coast. The park's landscape is a result of massive geological forces slowly and persistently forming what can be seen today.
The granite domes in Acadia are estimated to be approximately 420 million years old, and mountains, such as the Cadillac, bare testament to this. Many of these mountains form part of the many miles of hiking trails that the park offers.
Due to its diverse landscape and topography, the park is home to a variety of wildlife and plants. There are over 1,500 species of plants, birds and animals; and the park has nature centres where you can learn more about the resident wildlife.
The park is especially well known for its birds, with a record of 338 species recorded. Each year, some of the parks trails are closed to accommodate nesting Peregrine Falcons.
Acadia has something for everyone as the trails vary in difficulty - from very easy family strolls along the coast line, to strenuous climbs up the many peaks in the park.
Meaning that the majority of the park is explorable via trail. Due to the vast number of visitors received each year, the park authorities are quite firm about their ‘leave no trace’ ethic.
Acadia is one of the few parks that allows dogs on trails, however, they have to be kept on a leash at all times and are not permitted on ladder trails.
But if you need to prep your route in advance and have a trusty physical copy with you while you are on the trails, we suggest getting Acadia National Park Waterproof Trail Map, Maine by Jill Keefe, which is waterproof and very handy en route.
You won't require hiking permits for any of the listed hikes below, these will be covered by your park entrance fees. But have a look at the National Park Service's website for more information on specific activity permits.
The Precipice Trail heads up the Champlain Mountain. The trail is known as the most challenging in the park due to its 1,000 foot climb. Although the trail starts in a friendly manner, it quickly gets rugged as it heads west to the slopes under the Champlain Mountain.
While on the Precipice Trail, wooden bridges and iron handrails allow hikers to traverse narrow, exposed ledges, making it easier to scramble over boulders and other natural obstacles.
As you hike straight up the cliff face, the iron handrails and ladders will become more frequent. Upon reaching the summit of Mount Champlain you will be rewarded with impressive views of the ocean and Dorr Mountain.
The trail can be dangerous, so it's better t avoid descending the Precipice Trail and rather return on the Champlain North Ridge Trail. The return trip to trail parking lot is a breeze in comparison to the hike up.
Cromwell Harbour Motel, Otter Creek Inn.
Watch the Bazzle family’s video to get a good idea of the vertical climb and incredible views that the Precipice Trail offers.
Wonderland Trail runs at the Southern Tip of Mount Desert Island. Leading to the ocean via an old road, the trail is very flat and easy to follow. When the road reaches the ocean you might want to venture off the trek and explore the rocky shore line instead.
With its magnificent woodlands and rocky beaches, Wonderland Trail is great for birdwatching enthusiasts and families in particular.
Bass Harbour Inn, Seawall Motel, Spruce Cottage and The Lodge-ings at Southwest Harbour.
This brief video by National Park Adventures takes you along the scenic Wonderland Trail.
The Beehive Trail begins on the Bowl Trail, however, the path splits and the Beehive continues to the base of the Beehive Mountain. Here the trail works its way up breaks and faults in the granite. The exhilarating first section of the trail has iron rungs to help you ascend the steep cliff face. There is a fair amount of scrambling involved, but the incredible view at the top makes it worth it.
The descent climb is much easier, and you have the choice of returning through a deciduous forest to the Bowl Trail, or via the longer Gorham Mountain Trails and Ocean Path back to Sand Beach. Descending the Beehive is dangerous and not recommended.
Otter Creek Inn is the closest accommodation, followed by Blackwoods Campground.
To get a better feel of this hike, check out the BustedKnuckleVideo. It gives you a good idea of the incredible views and steep mountain side path.
The Ocean Path begins near Sand Beach and is less than half a mile from the park’s entrance. The hike is a leisurely stroll along the path hugging the coast line.
Several trails lead off the main trail, so if you are feeling adventurous you could stray off the path and explore the surrounding granite formations.
Blackwood’s Campground, Otter Creek and Bar Harbour. Closest accommodation is Otter Creek Inn.
Watch this video by David Kuklinski to get a better idea of the beautiful ocean front hike that that can be expected.
The Ship Harbour is a family friendly, figure 8 loop trail which allows exploration of both a beautiful forest section and the shoreline. The route is popular with bird watchers, as both the forest and the coast, are home to a variety of bird life.
If you would like to extend your hike it is possible to continue along the shore line towards the Wonderland Trail.
This peaceful video by Bar Harbour Acadia gives you a good overview of the Ship Harbour Trail.
Hiking insurance is not a mandatory requirement for hikes in Acadia National Park, but in general we recommend having insurance.
Check out the World Nomads calculator for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to the States.