How To Hike Beehive Trail In Acadia National Park



Hiker at the summit of Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park

The Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park is a short but thrilling and adventurous hike, perfect for those who are not sure about heights but want a taste of adrenaline.

Beehive’s cone shaped cliffside drop offs and stellar views are the ideal warm up act for hiking the longer, more intense and nerve racking Precipice Trail.

In our Acadia hiking guide, we will cover:

  • How to be safe on the Beehive Trail
  • Beehive Trail map with two descent options
  • A walk through of the entire hike
  • Best time to hike the Beehive
  • Our personal Beehive Trail photos

Now, let’s climb the Beehive hike in Acadia, Maine!

Our Acadia National Park Experience

Woman posing for a photo with the Beehive summit sign
Kristen at the summit of Beehive Trail in Acadia

We visited Acadia National Park in October 2020 as part of a larger New England Road Trip itinerary. During this trip, we personally hiked both the popular Beehive and Precipice Trail in Acadia.

Beehive Trail is shorter, easier and less scary than the famous Precipice hike. But it is still definitely one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park and you should include both on your Acadia itinerary.

Comparisons between the two quintessential Acadia hikes are inevitable.

We are going to walk you through exactly what you can expect from hiking the Beehive Trail from climbing iron bar ladders and scaling cliff edges to stunning views over the Gulf of Maine.

If you like what you see, we recommend you also add the Precipice Trail onto your Acadia bucket list.

Numerous hikers making their way up the Beehive in Acadia
The summit of Beehive Mountain in Acadia

What Is The Beehive Loop Trail In Acadia?

The Beehive Trail in Acadia national park is a short non-technical climb over exposed cliff faces with iron rung elements similar to those found along via ferrata trails. It is one of the most trafficked trails in the park.

Ascending Beehive Trail is one of the best things to do in Acadia National Park. If you look at the Beehive Trail from afar, you can see exactly why it gets its name.

What you are about to climb looks just like a cone-shaped beehive.

Take note of the numerous trees and vegetation growing on the sides of Beehive Mountain. You will also notice a steep granite rock face and tiny ant sized humans dotted on narrow cliff edges.

Beehive Trail is an adrenaline pumping climb because this hike is a thrill seeking, fear conquering, straight up ascent.

It’s not as intense as the Precipice Trail but you’ll definitely feel those butterflies jumping around.

Looking for more amazing hiking trails? Read our popular guide to the 50 best hikes in the USA next!

Beehive Trail Statistics

  • Hike Distance: 1.5 miles round trip (option for 1.2 mile shortcut)
  • Type: Loop trail
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hike Time: 1-3 hours depending on crowds and stops
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft (152m)
  • Summit Height: 520 ft (158m)
  • Trailhead: Beehive/Bowl
  • Dogs Allowed: No
  • Recent CommentsAll Trails

Beehive Trail will challenge hikers because the first part of this hike ascends a 450 ft cliff with exposed edges. There are sections of steep drop offs with no railings so you need very secure footing.

The Beehive hike is a great way to test yourself both mentally and physically. But you will need to be in a good frame of mind to complete this trail.

Beehive Loop Trail map in Acadia national park
Beehive Trail Loop map (base map from Gaia GPS)

Where Is The Beehive Trailhead?

The Beehive Loop Trail in Acadia starts near the large Sand Beach parking lot. Look for the crosswalk at the top of the entrance for Sand Beach to find the Bowl Trailhead.

Follow the Bowl Trail for about 0.2 miles until you reach the intersection with the Beehive Trail. From this point, you will begin your climb up the Beehive along rock scrambles and granite staircases.

The Beehive is a loop trail and you should not climb down the rungs and ladders. So once you reach the summit of the Beehive Trail, you have two choices to finish the loop trail.

You can descend down the Bowl Trail until you reach a peaceful pond. This small pond is known as the Bowl and it is found between the Beehive and Champlain Mountain.

This longer option will continue along the Bowl Trail until you reach an intersection with the Champlain South Ridge Trail. Head left then and continue down the Bowl Trail back to the parking lot.

You can also take a shortcut as you descend the Beehive. Look for the Bowl Connector Trail to cut out a hike to Bowl Pond.

No matter the route you take after reaching the beehive summit, there are no more rungs or ladders for the rest of the trail.

Need a hiking app to find the right route? Check out the best hiking and outdoor apps for your Acadia trip.

Directions To Beehive Trail From Bar Harbor

As we mentioned above, the Beehive Trail begins not long after entering Sand Beach entrance into Acadia National Park on the Park Loop Road.

It’s very important to know that traffic will be extremely busy in peak season of fall and summer, especially between the hours of 10:00am-2:00pm.

Most visitors to Acadia stay in Bar Harbor, but there are plenty of quieter and more affordable options if Bar Harbor is fully booked or too expensive.

Read our detailed guide to the best hotels in Bar Harbor and near Acadia National Park for a list of lodging options spanning the budget range.

From Bar Harbor, you have two options but both require the Acadia park entrance fee at Sand Beach entrance (Acadia is free to enter with an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass):

1. Schooner Head Road – Drive South on Main Street, turn left onto Schooner Head Road and take a right into the Sand Beach pay station.

  • Distance from Bar Harbor: 4.4 miles
  • Drive Time from Bar Harbor: 10-15 minutes

2. Great Meadow Drive – Drive South on Main Street, take a right onto Cromwell Harbor Road and left onto Great Meadow Drive. Turn left onto Park Loop Road and follow it past Precipice trailhead to enter at Sand Beach pay station.

  • Distance from Bar Harbor: 5.3 miles
  • Drive Time from Bar Harbor: 15-20 minutes

Planning to visit many national parks? Use this popular National Parks Passport to document your adventures.

An exposed and open section on a hiking route
A section of exposed rock faces on the Acadia Beehive Trail

Beehive Trail Safety Tips And Difficulty Explained

Now that we have given you a detailed trail description and directions, let’s move onto safety.

AllTrails currently rates the Beehive Trail as moderate. While this hike is very short, the difficulty comes into play with the climbing elements. Check AllTrails here.

The Beehive climb is not technical which means you do not need any previous climbing experience.

But one of the major problems you will face on this climb is waiting around in lines to actually get up to the summit. In summer and fall between 9:00am-4:00pm, the Beehive Trail is extremely crowded.

If you want to climb Beehive Trail and you are concerned about standing on cliff edges in lines of people waiting above and below you, we strongly recommend you arrive as early as possible.

Personally, if we were to hike this trail all over again, we would arrive right at dawn. We watched the sunrise at a different location and by the time we reached Beehive, it was already crowded.

If you want the same views but don’t think you’re up for the climb, simply walk further up Bowl Trail, turn onto Beehive Loop and summit from the back instead. There are no ladders or steep drops on this side.

Hiking Tip: If you do have a fear of heights, vertigo or claustrophobia, do not attempt to hike Beehive Trail. You will struggle and once you start climbing, it is very unsafe for yourself and others to climb back down.

Hiker sitting on a large rock neat the summit of Beehive Trail in Acadia
Kristen with her Peak Design Backpack on the Beehive in Maine

Preparing To Hike Beehive Trail

Aside from the obvious fact you will be looking at several steep drop offs, please be aware that this hike is open and exposed on sheer granite rock so another concern on the Beehive is inclement weather.

Strong winds and rain can make the Beehive a very dangerous hike.

High winds cause obvious issues. But rain is perhaps more of a concern because water will create slippery surfaces on the granite rock and the iron rung ladders.

Slick rock surfaces and wet iron bars are the the last thing you want to experience half way up a sheer rock face. The NPS does not recommend the Beehive Trail when it is wet or raining.

Prior to hiking the Beehive Trail in Acadia national park, you should check trail conditions on the official NPS website.

You will need two hands free for climbing Beehive. Pack water in a backpack and try not to take too many things that will distract you, such as loose clothing or cameras.

The trail is very short, but you should bring 1-2 Liters of water and a snack to enjoy at the summit. Add more water if you plan to hike additional trails near Beehive.

If you hike in summer, sunscreen is a necessity when climbing Beehive. Also consider sunglasses, caps and the usual sun protection gear.

In spring and fall, layers are key for the same reasons. If it’s windy, cold or slightly damp, you need a lightweight windproof or waterproof jacket.

We also highly recommend hikers wear a strong and sturdy pair of shoes with good grip. Having a grippy sole is going to help you get traction on the iron rungs and narrow rocks as you climb.

Not sure what to bring when you hike Precipice? Read our popular guide to the best things to bring on a day hike for important trail packing details.

Our Acadia Beehive Trail Hike Walkthrough

Now with all of the important details and logistics out of the way, let’s get onto the fun part. Beehive is the most popular hike in one of the best USA national parks, so it is not one to miss!

We are going to walk you through hiking the Acadia Beehive Trail with plenty of images so you can visualize the trail and see what you are up against.

Numerous cars looking for a parking spot at Sand Beach lot
Numerous cars looking for spots in Sand Beach parking lot

1. Get Parked Up Early

We can not stress how important it is to arrive early if you want to hike the Beehive Trail with fewer people also ascending at the same time.

Parking at US National Parks can be extremely difficult. In our personal experience, Acadia has been one of the worst parks for getting parked. Not just at Beehive, but also at the Bubbles and Precipice Trail.

There are several spaces for parking at Beehive Trail in Sand Beach parking lot, but otherwise you will have to find a spot along the roadside.

We arrived around 7:30am in October and got a parking spot in the designated lot. But by the time we were back at the car a few hours later, the parking lot was chaotic and no one could find a spot.

Signpost for hikers to follow and see distances between landmarks in maine
The Bowl Trail marker in Acadia National Park

2. Follow Bowl Trail

Once you are parked up, you can begin to relax and focus on the trail.

If you parked at Sand Beach lot, look for the crosswalk to safely cross the road. You will walk 0.2 miles along an attractive forested and slightly rocky creek bed until you reach the Beehive and Bowl crossroads.

Take the right turn to follow Beehive and before you know it, you will begin your ascent. Now is the time to turn around if you don’t feel up to it.

New to hiking? Don’t miss our guide featuring importing hiking tips for beginners.

Iron rung ladder built into rock to climb in maine
The famous iron rungs on Beehive hike in Acadia

3. Begin The Beehive Trail Climb

As you ascend Beehive, you will hike up boulders and across narrow cliff edges with iron ladders built into the ground to provide more support for your feet.

In the steeper straight up climbing sections, iron rungs are in place to assist and should be used when appropriate.

You will be inside the tree line for the first part of the climb, but when you look backwards you will see a stunning view opening up.

More climbing, more ladders and more scaling along narrow ledges will reveal beautiful views over Sand Beach and the Gulf of Maine.

Be prepared to wait in line for other climbers and be patient. Eventually you will reach a point in which the gradient becomes less severe and you can walk directly up this face.

Steep gradient of a climb with iron ladders to assist and crowds of people waiting
A line forming on the Beehive Trail in Acadia

4. Acadia Beehive Trail Summit

The final approach to the Beehive summit is ladder free, but requires shoes with good grips due to the steep rocky incline.

Views over Acadia National Park and the Atlantic Ocean are spectacular, a worthy climax to the exhilarating Beehive Trail hike.

Please do not return down via the same route, it is dangerous for others as they ascend. Instead, walk over the summit, enjoy the views and descend down to the Bowl.

Man at the summit of Beehive looking down on stunning fall foliage
Mark enjoying the views of Acadia National Park in October

5. Loop Around Back To The Bowl

For those looking to make this a longer route, the Bowl is a picturesque pond next to which you can relax for a few minutes and take some deep breaths.

The hike back to Sand Beach parking lot is gradual, easy and short from the Bowl. But you can take a shorter route back as you descend the Beehive summit by taking a left turn on the way down.

We took the shortcut because we had many more amazing places to visit in Acadia National Park.

Our Hike To Beehive Trail Summit In Pictures

We have walked you through exactly what to expect on the Beehive hike in Acadia. But here are a few more photos so you can really understand the trail:

Man starting the first iron rung ladder climb with a GoPro strapped to his head
Mark posing for a photo before he climbs iron rungs on Beehive
View of Sand Beach from Great Head Overlook
Beehive Mountain view from Great Head Overlook
Man climbing along narrow rock edge holding onto iron run bars
Mark making his way up a steep section of the trail
Beautiful views of Sand Beach, fall foliage and the gulf of Maine
Acadia fall foliage views over Sand Beach
Man looking out over the gorgeous fall foliage in New England
Mark enjoying the view along Beehive Trail
Hiker walking through lush vegetation at the top of a mountain
Kristen hiking near the summit of Beehive Trail
Woman at the summit of a hike in maine with beach behind
Kristen posing for a photo at the top of Beehive summit
Wooden trail signs on a hiking trail in Maine
Wooden trail signs in Acadia national park
A section of dense forested trail in Maine
The forested tree section of the Beehive in Acadia

Best Time To Hike Acadia Beehive Trail

Acadia is a hugely popular east coast national park and it benefits from a stunning fall foliage season. So you can expect the park to be extremely busy in both summer and fall.

Late spring is a good time to hike Beehive Trail if you want to avoid the worst of the Acadia crowds. But you should not hike Beehive when ice and snow are still on the trail.

As mentioned a few times in this Beehive guide, an early start is the best way to hit the trail with few others but also consider later in the day if morning isn’t an option.

Beehive Trail is best hiked in the early morning before 9:00am or later in the afternoon once the crowds have thinned.

We recommend you start your day with Beehive then go onto other popular sights in the same region such as Sand Beach, Ocean Path and Thunder Hole.

Love the US national parks? Check out this popular national park gift guide.

Beehive Hike FAQ’s

Let’s finish with some of the most frequently asked questions about hiking the Beehive Loop in Acadia.

Is The Acadia Beehive Trail dangerous?

Many people find the Beehive Trail in Acadia to be scary due to the extreme drop offs and it is not recommend for anyone with a fear of heights. The hike includes large granite steps, exposed rock faces, iron rungs to climb and numerous handrails.

How long is the Beehive Hike in Acadia?

According to the NPS, the popular Beehive Trail in Acadia is about 1.5 miles and takes an average of 1 to 3 hours to complete.

Can kids hike the Acadia Beehive?

No, young kids can not hike the Beehive Trail because the hike features granite cliffs, iron rungs and steep drop offs. This trail is also very dangerous when wet and dogs are not allowed.

More New England Guides

Want more Maine content? Head over to our Maine Travel Guides to explore Acadia National Park and beyond.

We hope this hiking guide helped you plan you climb up the fun Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park!

Please let us know if you have any questions about Beehive trail parking or hiking the Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park!

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

Find This Acadia Beehive Trail Guide Helpful? Pin It For Your Visit!

Note: This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All Rights Reserved © Where Are Those Morgans, LLC. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, maps, graphics, etc.) in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

Leave a Comment