Last May, I took a 3-day trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. I was itching to finally break in my hiking shoes and get away from campus–especially since I’d just defended my math French theses (insert crying-laughing emoji). It was the tail end of off-season, so while the town (Bar Harbor) was pretty dead, the trails weren’t crowded at all (and since it was warm, there was no risk of slipping on ice).
Before you go, it’s important to know that visiting the park isn’t free. You have to buy a week-long park pass at a visitor center or campground–you can find more info about fees and free days on the official Acadia website.
During our visit, one of the most well-known strenuous hikes, Precipice Trail, was unfortunately closed for peregrine falcon nesting. The trail is often closed from mid-March to mid-August, so if you want to add another tough hike to your list, consider coming later in the summer.
Luckily, we were still able to take advantage of some pretty cool hikes, and they were definitely a workout! Here are my favorite challenging hikes:
Pemetic Northwest Trail
Distance: .5 miles
Difficulty: Hard (roots, ravine, steep rocks)
Time: 1 hour
My friends and I actually took Pemetic North Ridge Trail up to Pemetic Mountain, which is 2-2.5 times longer than Pemetic Northwest Trail, but a lot more moderate. It’s still not the easiest hike because of all the roots, so I found it a nice way to ease into tougher hikes. I don’t know that I would recommend coming up this way, however–it wasn’t exceptionally interesting, and I’ve heard that the views aren’t nearly as nice as the other trails
The view at the top was something else though:
There were also some interesting plants–these are called fiddleheads (since they look like the scroll of a violin), and are actually baby ferns before they mature and unfold. These are actually edible and they apparently taste like a cross between spinach and asparagus. I’m seen these in grocery stores before, and they’re quite expensive!
We decided to go down Pemetic Northwest Trail since we were short on time and daylight. I’d read online about the trail, and so I knew to take the “ravine” option when it split off into “ravine” and “ledge.” The ledge side is supposed to be harder and not as fun as climbing down ladders in a ravine.
I think the avocado and coconut stickers are a little distracting haha (always want to protect the identity of my friends!), but I thought this photo nicely illustrated how steep some parts were.
So the reason we were in a rush was that we wanted to catch the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. It’s actually a trail itself, but we just drove up since it was already getting dark. Cadillac is a pretty comfortable paved hike anyways, and we were looking for more adrenaline-inducing trails.
Distance: 2 miles, including the return via Bowl Trail
Difficulty: hard and scary going up (the trail is narrow and near-vertical)
Time: 2 hours
The sign that greets you at the trail head is a little ominous, but our friends had raved so much about the hike that we figured we’d go for it and just be careful. I really don’t have good photos that show just how scary the trail can be (maybe I was too busy being scared to take photos), but this is definitely the hike for adrenaline junkies.
A perk: the lovely view of the beach. There’s also a nice spot to rest at the top, and the descent is a lot easier (though a little rocky).
I HIGHLY recommend Beehive–it’s really quite an adventure since it’s precarious, and it’s conveniently located by the beach (so you get nice views during the hike and a relaxing walk along the coast afterwards).
Pemetic Northwest is also an experience to have–it feels kind of rugged and exotic since most trails don’t take you through ravines (at least that I know of).
On a totally random note, if you stop by Portland along your trip to Acadia, I urge you to try Gorgeous Gelato. We happened to visit on a Friday, which is when they have an array of vegan options. I got the wild blueberry and the dark chocolate–both were good, but the wild blueberry was lighter and more flavorful. I always lust after food in faraway places haha.
If you have any questions about Acadia, please don’t hesitate to let me know! It’s off-season now, but it’s never too early to plan next year’s trips.