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Beech Mountain & Beech Cliff Trails, Acadia National Park

Updated: Jun 10

View of Echo Lake from the Beech Cliff Loop in Acadia

Each year during the first week of June, we gather with 25+ family members in Bar Harbor for several days. We stay in cabins on the same sweet cove we've been returning to for years. It's always something we look forward to, but we often get rainy weather since we live in Maine and this trip happens in late spring.

This year was no different - rain, clouds and loads of mist. After two soggy (albeit beautiful) hikes with no views, I'd resolved to the "better luck next year" mindset.

But my luck arrived much sooner. When I checked the forecast for our final morning in Bar Harbor it showed full sun at 5:00am. There was only one thing to do - set an early alarm and squeeze in one last hike in hopes of summit views and sunlit trails.

I was eager to explore the Beech Cliff Trail and decided to hike on my own for simplicity's sake. We'd hiked the Beech Mountain Loop as a group the day before and Carroll, the owner of the cabins, suggested we start our hike from the sand beach at Echo Lake following the cliffs (Beech Cliff Trail) up to the parking lot before connecting to the Mountain Loop. Since his suggestion included ladders and one of our hikers had a broken arm, we opted for the easier Beech Mountain Loop, starting at the trail head parking that links the two trails and skipping the section with cliffs. But I couldn't stop wondering about the ladders, lake and cliffs. I was determined to return, and that I did, on the last morning of our trip.

I'll share details on both trails, but will start with my sunny hike and favorite of the two: The Beech Cliff Trail. It offers routes of varying difficulty, from easy to adventurous: flat loops with stellar views at the top, challenging sections with ladders and rock scrambling in the middle, and lakeside parking at the bottom for those who'd rather skip the hike altogether and meet up for a swim in the warm, clear lake.

Sandy beach at Echo Lake in Acadia National Park

Beech Cliff Trail via Beech Cliff Loop - 1.4 mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 547 feet. This trail offers stunning views of Echo Lake and connects with the Beech Mtn Trail for a longer hike. There are four ladders on this trail, so be prepared to test your fear of heights! Dogs are not allowed on this trail and Acadia National Park fees are required. Find details on park passes here and updates on trail closures due to falcon nesting and storm damage here.

This trail starts out flat, then leads to some easy stone stairs and incredible views of Echo Lake. Although not wheelchair accessible due to the stairs, I would rate this section of the hike as easy. Rarely does a trail begin at the summit, so this is a great option for those who want a view, but aren't able to climb a mountain.

After completing the short summit loop, continue along the trail until you've reached this sign, then head left towards the Beech Cliff Trail. This descends rapidly, leading to rocky sections and four iron ladders to climb down. SUCH an adventure.

Eventually, the trail flattens out again, ending at the most beautiful lake and sand beach. The water was clear and warm. I will definitely be returning with the extended family next June for a hike and a swim.

View of sand beach and Echo Lake in Acadia National Park

Beech Mountain Trail - 1.2 mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 351 feet. This summit is a great spot for sunrises and sunsets, a quick and easy alternative to Cadillac Mountain, which now requires reservations.

I'd read about the Beech Mtn Loop on the Wandering Chickadee blog and at only 1.2 miles and a 14 minute drive from the cabins, it fit the bill for sub-par weather. Natalie, the writer, recently offered a list of easier hiking recommendations in Acadia. Check it out here.

This loop leads to one of the remaining fire towers in the area, with views of Long Pond and Mansell Mtn...or so I've read. The day we hiked Beech Mtn, it was a pea soup mix outside. The light rain did bring out the vivid green colors in these mossy forests, but did not offer views at the summit.

The beauty at Acadia National Park spreads far and wide and the list of hikes to explore here is endless. For the past couple of years we've hiked Penobscot Mountain, which is an absolute favorite. I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a moderate to challenging hike with expansive views and a pond at the top. Enjoy any amount of time you get to spend up here!

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I'm so glad you loved your Beech Mtn. hike!

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