Beehive Trail Hike Summary
On paper the Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park doesn't look that formidable. You may want to look again. At just over 3 miles in total length and rising a mere 520ft from the trailhead, a good 400 feet of that comes in what can only be described as a granite ladder - straight up. An exhilarating hike - this classic is definitely not for those with a fear of heights!
Beehive Trail Trailhead
Your first test however will come well before you get to the main event. The short approach trail is a challenging hop-scotch across a path of football to truck-size rubble that has found its way down from the peak over the last million or so years. If you don't pass this test, then you should seriously consider turning back.
- Park at the Sand Beach parking lot (restrooms available) or if available, use the free Island Explorer Shuttle bus. We got an early start for ease of finding parking and to avoid a crowded hike.
- The Beehive Trailhead begins across the Park Loop Road from the Sand Beach lot.
- Warning: The Beehive Trail is not suitable for small children and those with fear of heights.
Beehive Trail: The Ascent
Acadia National Park did an amazing job engineering the Beehive Trail ascent to make it both reasonably safe - provided you are not doing something you shouldn't be - and slightly terrifying - you can easily get into trouble, if you don't take your time and plan your steps ahead.
The iron rungs are all built straight into the face of the exposed cliffs. If you are waiting for railings, you've come to the wrong hike. There are none. The well worn trail varies in width and include some small, well-designed foot bridges where the gap is too wide to hop. If possible, take your time to savor the unequalled views of the magnificent Atlantic Oceanside which seem to meet you at every turn.
Beehive Trail: The Summit
The Beehive Trail summit is glorious. While the early morning start may be chilly, we can assure you that the climb will warm you up quickly and as a bonus, you may even find that you have the whole summit to yourself. Plan on spending some time up there before heading down.
Besides the breathtaking views, the Beehive Trail descent provides a steady supply of wild blueberries and huckleberries in season – late July to mid-September – and in our opinion, worth planning your entire visit around. (and yes, visitors are allowed to pick berries - just avoid trampling vegetation).
Beehive Trail: The Descent via The Bowl Trail
A short detour to The Bowl Trail is highly encouraged and we can almost guarantee you will not be disappointed. This additional 0.2 mile side hike takes you to a crystal clear, glacially formed lake.
- Swimming is allowed, but be forewarned that leeches are present!
If you want to extend the hike a bit then follow the trail which leads around The Bowl or maybe relax and recharge yourself after such an intense scramble.
- Be Careful: Watch the junction signs for connecting trails, so you don't end up taking a longer trek than planned and mind the narrow ledges.
- One-Way Hike - do not attempt to hike back down the Beehive Trail - it is dangerous to you and to those coming up the trail; if you are afraid of heights, but would like to summit the Beehive, just hike up the back side (see map).
- No dogs allowed on Beehive Trail portion.
- Wear sturdy shoes and bring water.
- Parking: Like most other popular hikes the parking area is known to fill up early. This is especially true for The Beehive Trail as the parking lot is shared by a number of other scenic areas in Acadia. One option would be to take advantage of one of the free shuttles that depart from the main visitors center.