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)
Total score: 10 of 10.
Terrain – a rock wall, straight up.
Trailheads – 44° 18.896’N, 68° 20.207’W
Directions – drive to Maine, trail is at the end of the Echo Lake parking area.
Parking – Echo Lake parking lot
Standouts – ladders and stunning views
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:
You only live once, right?
This trail starts decently inclined, then heads more or less straight up the mountain, up ramps, then steps.
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.
Fortunately, just after the double ladder, you finish the trail at the top of the mountain. Now time for some AMAZING views.
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.
Overall recommendation: Yes. Like I said, one of the COOLEST hikes I’ve ever done.
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.