When you find your way up to the glorious summit of the Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park, Maine, realize that a million years ago it was under 10,000 ft of water which explains a lot about the formations. Most of the exposed surfaces are smooth and the fissures have been gracefully carved by a millennia of rushing Atlantic tides.

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!

Family hiking on the rubble of the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

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.
Trail markers on the trailhead of the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Warning sign at the start of the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Teen walking along the cliff of the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

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.

Iron rungs in the granite up the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

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.

Family hiking up the stone steps of the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

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.

Two hikers at the summit of the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

Besides the breathtaking views, the Beehive Trail descent provides a steady supply of wild blueberries and huckleberries in season ‚Äď late July to mid-September ‚Äď and in our opinion, worth planning your entire visit around. (and yes, visitors are allowed to pick berries - just avoid trampling vegetation).

Family picking huckleberries on the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

Beehive Trail: The Descent via The Bowl Trail

View of the lake off the Bowl Trail in Acadia National Park, Maine

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!
Teen looking into the clear lake water after hiking the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

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.

  • ‚ÄćBe 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.
Two hikers climbing the iron rungs on the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Hiker with sunrise behind her on the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
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