This story was originally published in June 2012.
Difficulty: The trail up the front of Beehive is moderate difficulty, but strenuous for people who are even slightly afraid of heights. The trail up the back of Beehive is moderate difficulty and a better choice for children, dogs and people who are scared of heights.
How to get there: On Route 3, drive onto Mount Desert Island and veer left. Drive to Bar Harbor, continuing on Route 3 (Bar Harbor Road). Drive through the town and enter Acadia National Park. At the entrance of the park, turn left onto Park Loop Road. Continue on Park Loop Road to the Sand Beach parking lot, past the park entrance free station on the left. You will need to pay a small fee to pass the gate from May 1-Oct 31. For information about entrance fees, click here. From the Sand Beach parking lot, walk back to Park Loop Road. Turn right and walk a short distance. The trailhead is on the left.
Another option is to turn left right before the park entrance fee station. But, remember, you must pay for a pass if hiking in Acadia, regardless of whether you pass an entrance fee station.
After a short distance, you will reach a four-way intersection. Turn right onto a dead-end road. At the end of the road is a small parking lot on the left. This parking lot fills up quickly, so try to get there early in the morning. You’ll get a ticket if you park on the side of the road.
Walk down the woodland trail that starts at the parking lot. Take either the first or second right (both will work) to end up on Sand Beach. Cross the beach and climb the steps at the other end to reach the main parking lot. Walk across the parking lot to Park Loop Road. Turn right and walk a short distance. The trailhead is on the left.
Information: At 520 feet in elevation, the Beehive offers stunning views of Sand Beach, the ocean and the terrain of the eastern side of MDI. Though the granite hump is certainly not the tallest peak on the island, it is by far the most dominant geological feature in near the popular Sand Beach. The trail is a short one — approximately 0.8 miles long — leading through the woods to exposed cliffs. Two routes lead to the top. About 0.2 miles into the trial is a juncture. Turn right to “Beehive Trail” to climb the face of the cliffs. At some points, hikers must use iron rungs for support while hiking up the cliffs, but for the most part, the trail switchbacks, rising gradually. The trail also has plenty of granite steps. If this steep ascent doesn’t appeal to you, continue straight at the trail juncture, following the signs to “The Bowl.” This trail leads up the backside of Beehive and is more gradual. This route is OK for dogs, ambitious small children and people who are afraid of heights. Hikers typically use this route to descend the Beehive.
Personal note: Much of the trail is open to the sun; wear sunscreen. Be cautious on the cliffs. It may look like a playground, but it isn’t. I usually bring friends on this trail because it’s short, exciting, offers great views; and afterward, you can enjoy the beach and cold Atlantic Ocean.