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Precipice Trail In Acadia National Park – Great Overview (With Video)

  • Updated: December 10, 2019
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The Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park takes you on a journey a glorious stretch of coast in what is known as Down East Maine.

The hiking in Acadia is varied: There are summit hikes, coastal hikes, forests, and lakes. Perhaps the most challenging and steep (though a short 0.9 mile to the top) is the Precipice Trail - a non-technical climb to the top of Champlain Mountain (at 1058 feet/328 meters).

If you're interested in taking on this popular Acadia hiking trail then have a look through our guide to find out everything you need to know about the Precipice Trail, Acadia Hike.

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Precipice Trail Overview

Acadia National Park in Maine is part of a glorious stretch of coast in what is known as Down East Maine. 'Why DownEast?' you may wonder, as did I.

Well, many years ago, the reference described the direction ships from Boston and New York traveled to reach this wonderful area - downwind and east. 

The hiking in Acadia is varied

There are summit hikes, coastal hikes, forests, and lakes. Perhaps the most challenging and steep (though a short 0.9 mile to the top) is the Precipice Trail - a non-technical climb to the top of Champlain Mountain (at 1058 feet/328 meters). 

Plan for the hike to the top to take approximately an hour, leaving time to enjoy the magnificent views. The total loop I took with my family on this visit is 2.8 miles, but there are a variety of options available.

Precipice Trail Quick Facts

  • Elevation: 1058 feet/328 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 2.8 miles (loop)
  • Duration: 3-5 hours depending on preference and pace
  • It is one of the scarier hikes in America and many trekkers underestimate the hight they have to reach
  • Acadia Park is very popular but has very few fatalities on its trails
  • The trail leads to the top of Champlain Mountain
  • Not suitable for kids or people with fear of heights

Regional Map

Recommended Guide Book

Acadia National Park Waterproof Trail Map, Maine

There are many free maps available. The Acadia park is semi-divided into three areas:  Schoodic Peninsula, The Isle of Au Haut and the Mount Desert Island.

But if you need to prep your route in advance and have a trusty physical copy with you while you are on the trail, you could get Acadia National Park Waterproof Trail Map, Maine by Jill Keefe, which should be waterproof and very handy en-route.

Typical Hike

Your itinerary will depend on whether you book through a trek operator or organize your route by yourself, but here is the route we chose for our hike.

Start In The Morning

Beginning Of The Trail

To The Orange And Black Path

To The Summit

Following The Champlain North Ridge Trail

Descending

The Trail Back To Precipice

Left To The Stone Steps

Onto The Schooner Head Pat

To The Wetlands

Murphy's Lane To The Precipice Trail

Return To The Parking Lot

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Photo by Craig Brener

Video Overview

This Bazzle family’s video should give you a good idea of the vertical climb and incredible views that the Precipice Trail has to offer.

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Trek the Acadia Park with our recommended trek congregator, Get a Quote.

Precipice Trail Important Details

Best Time To Go

The best time to hike here is September and October, shoulder season. The peak summer crowds are gone, though you'll still find a fair amount of visitors, especially in September.

Restaurants (in particular, roadside lobster shacks) will start to close for the season by late September, but the weather is often ideal, and the fall leaves shining in the sun add to the perfection.

The trail is usually closed from mid-March until mid-August, for nesting peregrine falcons.

Difficulty

This hike should only be attempted if you have a reasonable level of fitness, no fear of heights, and are comfortable climbing metal rungs and scrambling. It's not suitable for young children (especially due to the many exposed sections), and it's not suitable for anyone when wet. 

Permits

Although there is a fee to access some sections of Acadia National Park, as of the time of this writing, a fee is not required to park at or climb the Precipice.

However, the park service is always making changes, so look out for (new) signs informing you to display your park pass.

Frequently Asked Questions

What gear should I take?

Do I need to get travel insurance?

Are there places to eat?

Do I need a car to get to the trail?

When does Acadia open and close?

What wildlife could I encounter?

Is altitude sickness a risk?


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