Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired
Acadia National Park is special for many reasons. Between the historic carriage road system, and its history as the oldest park east of the Mississippi River, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. But it’s also easily accessible, easy to get around in, and home to one of my favorite hikes of all time – the Beehive.
Earlier this spring, Pocket Ranger covered a multitude of things to do and reasons to visit. Among one of the most pressing reasons to visit the Park is simply that it’s home to Cadillac Mountain, one of the most stunning places I’ve had the opportunity to watch a sunset, in addition to the iconic Jordan Pond, fascinating natural features like Thunder Hole, and opportunities to camp on an island accessible only by boat.
On a trip to Acadia with my family a handful of summers ago, one of the things I felt most excited about was exploring the area trails with my mother and brother. I’ve hiked all over the east coast with friends, but it was an opportunity for us to experience the outdoors together as a family. We camped on Isle Au Haut, hiked around Jordan Pond on the Jordan Pond Nature Trail, and explored the trails up the North and South Bubbles. But one of my favorite moments of the trip remains reaching the summit of the Beehive with my brother.
The Beehive is described as one of the most strenuous trails in the park, and at first glance, I had no idea why. The Beehive itself is just over 500 feet tall and the Beehive Trail itself is less than a mile long. We parked near Sand Beach, which gave us easy access to the trail. Visitors can also take the free Island Explorer bus during the busy season; it’s an easy way to get around, and roads can be full of traffic in the summer.
We started up the trail, located right before the parking lot entrance, and the beginning of our 1.5 mile round trip hike looked like any other Acadia National Park trail. It was rocky, wooded, and easy to follow thanks to frequent bright blue blazes and signs showing us the way.
The trail did get steep, and at one point, I peeked through the trees amazed to see tiny figures hundreds of feet above us picking their way along exposed ledges. I’d read about strategically placed iron rungs to help hikers scale parts of the trail that would otherwise be impossible on foot, but wasn’t quite prepared for what we’d find.
The Beehive Trail got steeper and steeper, and eventually, some hand-over-hand climbing was required. At one point along the trail, we clung to slipper iron hand holds and crossed an iron ladder with only air below us. My brother led the way, occasionally stopping to make sure I was still behind him and in one piece. He frequently reminded me not to look down, though the views of Sand Beach were tough to pass up. When we reached the top, I breathed a sigh of relief, particularly because we could take the much tamer Bowl Trail back to the bottom.
Bottom line? If you’re looking for a quick hike with a bit of an adrenaline rush, you’re not going to want to miss the Beehive. It took us a little over an hour, including stops at the top and along the way, and the views were absolutely spectacular. Keep in mind the Beehive Trail isn’t recommended for children, but the top and the views are accessible via a handful of other trails.
Have you been to Acadia National Park? Have you hiked the Beehive? We’d love to hear from you!