Our Favorite Hikes in Acadia National Park

Trying to figure out which trails to hike in Acadia National Park? In this guide we’re sharing our favorite hikes in Acadia National Park, ranging from easy to challenging. 

With coastal views, forests, lakes, and mountains, Acadia National Park is a hiker’s dream, offering views of all four types of scenery in almost every single hike! 

While we were excited for some non-hiking activities in Acadia, like sunrise at Cadillac Mountain and popovers and tea, we were most excited to spend our time in the park hiking as many trails as possible and seeing as much of the park’s scenery. 

Watch our experience hiking in Acadia National Park, including the South Bubble Trail and Precipice Trail!

However, there is one problem (don’t worry, it’s a good problem)…there are SO many trails to choose from!

And if you’re like us and only have limited time in the park, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which ones to prioritize. So we’re here to help! 

In this guide we’re sharing our favorite hikes in Acadia National Park, as well as everything you need to know before hiking them. While we didn’t hike every single trail in the park and believe that you can’t go wrong with any trail you choose (they all seem to have amazing views!), if you can only pick a handful of hikes in Acadia, we highly  recommend adding these to your list!

Looking for more things to do at Acadia National Park and in Maine?

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

About Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Acadia National Park is primarily located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island on the Atlantic Ocean and is the only United States National Park in the Northeast. 

For years this region has been enjoyed and used by a variety of people, starting with the Wabanaki Native Americans thousands of years ago, before European settlers arrived and tourism to the area eventually grew, with artists and the affluent frequenting the area. 

Preservation of the land began in 1916, with the establishment of Sieur de Monts National Monument, which was then changed to Lafayette National Park in 1919, before eventually getting its current title of Acadia National Park in 1929.

The park is now the 8th most visited US National Park and for good reason. With gorgeous scenery everywhere you look, unique and challenging hikes, an iconic food item, and a great town nearby, Acadia offers something for everyone.

Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!

These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors. 

Hiking at Acadia in different seasons

Acadia National Park is open year-round, but your hiking experience will vary depending on the season. Here’s what to expect during each season, including weather and crowd levels!

Winter

In the winter, you can expect some road and trail closures, so some of our favorite hikes on this guide will not be accessible or safe. But the wintertime is a great time to enjoy solitude and go snowshoeing around the carriage trails.

One important thing to know about visiting in the winter is that a lot of businesses in the nearby towns, like Bar Harbor, close for the winter season, opening back up in the late spring and early summer.

Spring

During the spring, more trails will be accessible and the park is still quiet before the summer rush. However, keep in mind that snow may be melting, making the trails a bit muddier and wet, which can be dangerous for the iron rung hikes. 

Summer

The summer is the busiest season at Acadia and brings great weather, lush, green trees, and clear trails. This is one of the best seasons to hike in Acadia, but since it is a popular time, make sure to start your hikes VERY early.

Fall in Acadia National Park

Fall

If you want great weather, colorful foliage, and slightly less crowds than the summer, the fall is the PERFECT time to hike in Acadia!

We visited in the fall, specifically the third week of October, so our photos and experience reflect visiting during that time frame. Fall foliage varies every year, but this foliage tracker was a very helpful resource for us during our time in Maine!

Things to know before hiking in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Here are a few more things to know before hitting the trails!

Entrance fee

There is a $30 entrance fee per car to enter Acadia National Park, which covers 7 days in the park. We recommend getting the America the Beautiful Pass, which is $80 per year and gets you into all National Park Service managed sites and federal lands for free.

Start early!

Our top tip for any place we visit, but especially the national parks, which are recently experiencing more visitors than normal, is to start early! While it can be tough to get up early on vacation, it pays off big time, especially at Acadia National Park, where parking can sometimes be limited. 

We tried to start our days in the park before or at sunrise, which always made our first hike of the day way less busy. We also had good luck hiking at sunset too, when most visitors have left the park for dinner. 

Parking + Island Explorer Shuttle

Parking can be an issue at Acadia National Park, especially in the summertime and peak fall foliage. However, you do have another option! From late June to early October, there is a FREE park shuttle called the Island Explorer that takes visitors around the park, as well as to neighboring towns.

The shuttle can take you to all trailheads on this guide, minus the Beech Cliff Ladders and the Precipice Loop. You can see the schedule and stops here

Views from top of Precipice Trail

The trails are rugged

Many of the hikes in Acadia National Park, including the ones in this guide, aren’t super long mileage wise. But don’t let that fool you, the trails at Acadia National Park tend to be very steep and rugged, with some offering challenging features (like ladders and iron rungs). 

Many trails connect

One thing we loved about Acadia is that many of the trails connect with each other, giving you tons of options to lengthen (or possibly shorten) some hikes. However, this can make things confusing, so make sure to have AllTrails maps downloaded.

Rain or ice can be dangerous

While we’re not ones to let it rain on our hiking parade, for some of these hikes if it has rained or is icy, they will NOT be safe to hike. 

The hikes we would suggest avoiding if it has been rainy or icy are the South Bubble, Precipice Trail, and Beech Cliff Ladders, plus any additional iron rung hikes that we have not listed. 

Dog Friendly

One awesome thing about Acadia National Park is that dogs on a leash are allowed in most areas. You can see which trails they are and are not allowed on here and we will make sure to specify under each trail below. 

Curious what we do with Kona when she cannot join us on a hike? Read this guide about how we travel with a dog.

What to bring to hike in Acadia National Park

Hiking the Precipice Trail at Acadia National Park

To see everything we take hiking, check out our hiking gear as well as our guide about how to make a 10 essentials kit. But here are a couple items we want to point out that will especially help you during this hike!

Sturdy shoes 

Although the trails are mostly pretty short, due to the rugged terrain, we highly suggest wearing sturdy hiking shoes with good grip. 

Hiking poles

We don’t typically use hiking poles because we just do not have enough hands with filming and walking Kona, but we can definitely see how these could be helpful on a few of these trails, as they can be a bit rocky and steep. If we were to buy some we’d most likely have these, as they are super light.

AllTrails Map

We love downloading the AllTrails map for any hike we do, but we found it especially helpful on these hikes, as there are sometimes different trail junctions that can be confusing. You will need an AllTrails Pro membership to download maps, which is $30 a year and so worth it!

Our favorite hikes in Acadia National Park

Precipice Trail

This trail is NOT for everyone, as it’s very exposed and requires climbing iron rungs up the side of a cliff, but if you’re up for a challenge, the Precipice Trail was hands down our #1 hiking experience in Acadia National Park! 

Read our detailed guide to hiking the Precipice Trail at Acadia National Park and watch our experience on the hike.

Trail Stats

Miles (roundtrip): 2.1
Elevation gain: 1,053 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

Are dogs allowed?

Dogs are NOT allowed on this hike. 

Yearly trail closure 

Between March 15 and August 15 the Precipice Trail is CLOSED due to Peregrine Falcon nesting. 

What to expect

Acadia National Park is home to four thrilling, iron rung hikes in the park that have ladders, narrow ledges, and other challenging features. And the Precipice Trail is the longest of them all and also the most difficult.

On this hike you’ll be climbing up the side of a cliff face, using these iron rungs to help you. There are areas where you walk along ledges or have to climb vertical walls. It is NOT for everyone and for those scared of heights, we would not recommend it.

This hike reminded us a lot of the via ferrata in West Virginia, but without any safety measures. However, we personally didn’t feel very scared, despite both having minor fears of heights. If you take it slow and do not hike it when it is wet out, it is a safe experience.

The trail starts with a rocky hike up to the base of the iron rung section. This portion isn’t scary, but you definitely need to watch your step a bit. Around 0.3 miles in, you’ll begin the iron rung portion of the hike, which is where it gets super fun!

There are a mix of short and longer iron rungs, which are sometimes vertical like a ladder and sometimes take you across a ledge and are used more for support. We lost count of how many iron rung sections there were…there are a lot! 

Hiking the Precipice Trail at Acadia National Park

And because these can be intimidating and only one person can go at a time, starting early is key to avoid having to worry about holding anyone up or waiting for your turn. 

After conquering the iron rungs, you’ll reach the top of Champlain Mountain, which has amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as some islands and a lighthouse. 

To head back down, you’ll want to go the North Ridge Trail to the Orange and Black Path. We highly suggest going down a different way than the iron rungs, as two way traffic would be tough. 

If you’re visiting during the months this hike is closed or you want something a bit easier, check out the Beehive Trail

South Bubble 

With incredible views of Jordan Pond and a short, but steep hike, this is one of the most iconic views at Acadia National Park and is a must-do!

There are a few different route options to get to South Bubble, which we will share below, as well as why we chose the one we did.

Route #1 

Miles (roundtrip): 1.2
Elevation gain: 301 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

This is the shortest of the routes to the South Bubble, but it is still steep! To see the best views, you’ll want to go down the trail a bit from where this map takes you. This route starts from its own parking lot and avoids the difficult section we will reference below. 

Route #2

Miles (roundtrip): 1.4
Elevation gain: 492 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

This route starts in the same parking lot as the one above, but is a loop option that will take you down a different way back to the car, going down the difficult part of the trail. 

Route #3 (what we did)

Miles (roundtrip): 3
Elevation gain: 534 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

This is the route we chose, which starts at the Jordan Pond parking lot and is flat at first, before a rocky climb up to the summit. Some areas on the way to the summit require scrambling and using your hands to help you, which is the difficult part we referenced earlier. 

While this route is longer, we chose this option so we could park at Jordan Pond, which is a larger lot than the other trailhead (better for our big van) and is a short walk to Jordan Pond House, which we went to afterwards. If you can arrive early to this hike, we suggest starting here, as you won’t have to fight for a spot at Jordan Pond House afterwards if you choose to do that as well.

Watch our experience hiking to the South Bubble to get a better idea of what to expect.

Are dogs allowed?

Dogs are technically allowed on this hike, but we wouldn’t recommend bringing them, as it is steep and requires some scrambling at the end. Our pup Kona, who is normally a mountain goat and crushes every hike, struggled with some sections and we had to help her. 

South Bubble Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

What to expect

This is our experience based on the route we did. 

One thing we loved about the route that starts at Jordan Pond is that you get to enjoy views of the pond from eye level before seeing it from above. 

This part of the trail is very flat and can be narrow and once reaching the backside of the pond, you’ll turn off to the right to head up to the South Bubble. This is when the trail gets a lot steeper and more rugged!

The trail goes from flatter dirt to more of large rocks to hike up, before reaching a more difficult area that starts with a narrow rock crack you have to climb up. This will likely require using your hands. After this part there are a couple rungs as well. 

Once you get to the top, you have an incredible view of Jordan Pond, the ocean, and for us, fall foliage. It is an epic view! 

South Bubble Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

You can continue past this overlook to North Bubble, as well as to Bubble Rock, which is a rock almost hanging off a cliff has great views of Eagle Lake (as seen in the photo above). We headed down the same way we came, which was harder with our dog than going up, especially because there was more two way traffic at this point. 

Beech Cliff Ladders

Beech Cliff Ladders Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

The Beech Cliff Ladders, which is another iron rung hike (although much easier) was one of the BEST surprises at Acadia National Park. Located in a less busy area of the park, we hardly saw any people on this trail and the mix of challenging features and views made it a blast!

Trail Stats

Miles (roundtrip): 1.8
Elevation gain: 492 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

Are dogs allowed?

If you want to go up to Canada Cliffs without hiking the ladders (which is less fun, but still gives you great views at the top), dogs are allowed. But on the actual Beech Cliff Ladders, dogs are not allowed. 

Beech Cliff Ladders Acadia National Park

What to expect

This hike begins at Echo Lake, which is a beautiful lake on the western side of Mount Desert Island. This is a less busy side of the park and despite there being a large parking lot, there were maybe 5 cars total when we arrived. 

The trail starts from the back of the parking lot and is a steady, uphill climb from the beginning and closer to the end you’ll reach the first of four ladders. These ladders are more like metal ladders than iron rungs and aren’t too hard to climb up. 

The only difficult part of the ladders is that the first one takes you to a narrow landing at the top, with a branch sort of in the way, so you’ll have to squeeze around that. Another set of ladders are back to back and have only a small landing between them, which can be slightly daunting. However, the ladders were a blast for us! 

Once at the top of the final ladder, make sure to go to the left for a great view of the lake. We loved this view!

While you can go left onto the Canada Cliff Trail and head back down, we suggest going to the right to do a loop around Beech Cliff. This loop has even more amazing views of Echo Lake and the surrounding area. 

Beech Cliff Ladders

The ladders and views made this hike a ton of fun, but what made the hike even better is that we didn’t see anyone on the ladders part of the trail and only a couple other people at the top. We went for sunset and although it was cloudy, we think going later in the day helped keep the crowds lower. 

After the loop, take the Canada Cliff Trail down, as it’s just a regular trail and while all downhill and rocky, it’s easier than going down the ladders.  

Watch our experience hiking the Beech Cliff Ladders to get a better idea of what to expect.

Gorham Mountain Trail

Gorham Mountain Loop Acadia National Park

For a relatively easy hike, which isn’t lacking in views, the Gorham Mountain Trail is a great choice! 

Trail Stats

Miles (roundtrip): 1.6
Elevation gain: 429 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

Are dogs allowed?

Yes! Our pup Kona loved this hike and it is totally doable for your four legged friend.  

What to expect

Gorham Mountain’s trailhead starts off the Park Loop Road and is a pretty straightforward hike. Similar to most Acadia hikes it’s a rocky trail and uphill, but this would be doable by most ages and abilities. 

The hike up is forested, but once you get to the top you will have sweeping views of Sand Beach, the ocean, and the more southern part of Mount Desert Island. 

Gorham Mountain Loop Acadia National Park

With the fall foliage, it was a gorgeous contrast of the white sand of the beach, bright blue water, and yellows, oranges, and reds. While most hikes we completed had ocean views, it was extra cool to see a beach from the top too!

To do this hike by itself, you will go back down the way you came, but we did this as a larger loop (more on that in a second). We went down the Bowl Trail and walked along the road for a tiny bit to get back to our van. 

Great Head Trail

Great Head Acadia National Park

While many hikes in Acadia National Park involve climbing to see the park from higher above, the Great Head Trail is a chance to enjoy nice coastal views from eye level. 

Trail Stats

Miles (roundtrip): 1.6
Elevation gain: 301 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

Are dogs allowed?

It depends! This hike is very dog friendly, however between June 15-September 8, dogs are not allowed on Sand Beach. You can still take them on this hike during those months, but you’ll need to follow this route and skip the Sand Beach portion.

Great Head Acadia National Park

What to expect

After a morning of conquering the Precipice Trail, the Great Head Trail was a great change of pace for us and allowed us to have a nice, coastal stroll without much effort. 

This hike, using the route we did, starts at the far end of Sand Beach and takes you along in a loop around the Great Head. 

Great Head Acadia National Park

At the beginning you’ll have views overlooking Sand Beach, which is a stunning white sand beach with gorgeous blue water. This was our favorite view of the hike! 

As you make your way around the loop you’ll be walking along the rocky coast, with the ocean not too far below you. And since it’s a loop, you have different views the entire time, which is one of our favorite things about the hike! 

Ocean Path

Ocean Path Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

Ocean Path is a flat, well maintained path that offers different stops along the coastline to see unique scenery and views. 

Trail Stats

Miles (roundtrip): 4.5
Elevation gain: 374 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions

Are dogs allowed?

Yes! This is a perfect trail for your pup to stretch their legs!

Ocean Path Acadia National Park

What to expect

The Ocean Path is less of a trail and is more of a path, as the name implies. This is the easiest of the trails listed and follows Park Loop Road, so while you can drive along this path and make some stops, not all stops are accessible by car. 

The path goes along the ocean and is a smooth gravel surface, so it can be a good option for strollers and wheelchairs, with some offshoots that go down trails and provide different views of the coast. 

Ocean Path Acadia National Park

Some of the popular spots to check out on this path are Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff, which are both accessible by car or foot. 

Thunder Hole is a narrow inlet that is famous for making a thunderous roar when large waves enter it. To see the phenomenon, plan your walk for 1-2 hours before high tide. Otter Cliff is a 110 ft high cliff and is a popular rock climbing spot. 

Bonus: Great Hand + Ocean Path + Gorham Mountain Loop

Ocean Path Acadia National Park

For an awesome adventure, combine Great Head, Ocean Path, and Gorham Mountain into one beautiful loop! We loved doing these trails together, as they are all located right by each other. Here are the stats!

Trail Stats

Miles (roundtrip): 5.6
Elevation gain: 938 feet
Our trail recording

To do this hike, we recommend starting at Sand Beach and hiking Great Head, walking up Ocean Path to the Gorham Mountain trailhead, hiking to the Gorham Mountain summit and then hiking down the Bowl Trail, which connected us to Park Loop Road, where we walked for a minute back to our van.

Looking for more things to do at Acadia National Park?

For more tips of things to do in Acadia National park, suggestions of places to stay and eat, as well as itinerary options, check out our guide to the Best Things to do in Acadia National Park and these guides:

Ready to experience Acadia National Park’s trails?

Pin this guide with our favorite hikes to help plan your adventure!

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

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