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Beech Cliff Trail – Mount Desert, Acadia National Park, Maine
Distance: 0.9 miles one way (1.8 round trip)
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: 10 of 10. – Seriously steep (by my South Jersey standards)

Terrain – a rock wall, straight up.

Trailheads –     44° 18.896’N,  68° 20.207’W

Trailhead.

Trailhead.

Directions – drive to Maine, trail is at the end of the Echo Lake parking area.

Parking – Echo Lake parking lot

Markings – Go up, follow signs and red blazes.

Description – For full disclosure – this is one of the coolest hikes I have EVER done.  It was also one of the hardest short hikes I have ever done, I was super glad that I’d warmed up for this vacation with a 50 mile backpacking trip on the AT in Shenandoah (hiking, even steep hiking, seems easier after lugging around a huge backpack up and down mountains).

So, idiotically, I left my bathing suit in Jersey.  Which is great, because I was the one who planned this vacation AND who had been here before!  So while The Pres and The Wife went swimming, could be that guy who sits in the swim area and doesn’t wear a bathing suit.   So my other option was climb this:

View of Beech Cliffs from Echo Lake.

View of Beech Cliffs from Echo Lake.

You only live once, right?

This trail starts decently inclined, then heads more or less straight up the mountain, up ramps, then steps.

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View from halfway up. Seriously considered calling it a day here.

View from halfway up. Seriously considered calling it a day here.

I'd be much cooler if I'd remembered my bathing suit.

I’d be much cooler if I’d remembered my bathing suit.

Remember, when you’re only halfway up, you’re neither up nor down.  So it was time for more up.  At some point, the trail stops pretending to be reasonable and becomes a series of ladders.  Now, at home, I hate climbing a ladder to change a lightbulb (I have a fear of heights… which might be why I live in flat South Jersey), so the prospect of FOUR ladders in the second half of this trail wasn’t too inviting.

Steep steps.

Steep steps.

This was the most dangerous part of the trail (if you are decently tall like me).

This was the most dangerous part of the trail (if you are decently tall like me).

Is that a...?

Is that a…?

It sure is (the dismount on this one was tricky).

It sure is (the dismount on this one was tricky).

The cliffs aren't kidding around.

The cliffs aren’t kidding around.

They are some serious cliffs.

They are some serious cliffs.

So ladder two.

So ladder two.



Then more steep steps.

Then more steep steps.

Then a double ladder.

Then a double ladder.

"Wish I was there!"

“Wish I was there!”

Makes me nervous.

Makes me nervous.

Fortunately, just after the double ladder, you finish the trail at the top of the mountain.  Now time for some AMAZING views.

How great is this?

How great is this?  It’s a long way up from where we started.

Suckers.

Suckers.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is apparently a decently level trail from a parking lot to this overlook. A few folks even thought I was putting them on that I'd climbed from the lake.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is apparently a decently level trail from a parking lot to this overlook. A few folks even thought I was putting them on that I’d climbed from the lake.

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When I’d soaked in the view, it was back down the way I came up.  If I had to do this hike again, I’d find another way down.  Climbing down those ladders was nerve wracking.

Nearby: Go for a dip in the lake afterwards!  It’s “warm” by Maine standards, which is freezing by Jersey standards.  Think ocean at the Jersey shore in May cold.

The Good

ladders and stunning views

The Could Be Better

This trail is really hard

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Bottom Line

One of the COOLEST hikes I’ve ever done.

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