Hike, Swim, Repeat: The Beehive Trail at Acadia National Park

On my last trip to Acadia, I discovered that I have a problem with the Northeast’s only contribution to the National Parks: Between the epic climbing, great biking, and scenic hiking, there is just too much to do. Once you add in visiting sites such as Thunder Hole, watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, and grabbing a pint or two at Bar Harbor Beerworks, there is little time for resting and relaxing during a vacation there. While I felt the crunch to cross items off my Acadia list during my last visit, I also wanted to find a few quiet moments to slow down and recharge my batteries.

The Beehive

The Beehive is the perfect short hike for those days where you feel like you should do something, but you are actually thinking about taking a rest and dipping your toes into the sand. It rises prominently across the street from and shares parking with Sand Beach, a 290-foot long stretch of sand created from shells ground down by the pounding surf. This location is certainly an anomaly when compared to the rest of the park’s craggy coastline.

I found that the recipe for a guilt-free beach day is to make a quick ascent of The Beehive, and then head to the beach for an afternoon of reading, napping, and trying to tell yourself that the water isn’t that cold.

While Sand Beach is pretty unique, the trail leading to it is a wonder as well. If you look carefully from the parking lot, you will most likely notice hikers making their way up the Beehive Trail. While a short hike, at a little less than a mile, it is definitely a challenge, with just under 500 feet of elevation gain going straight up the feature’s front.

Climbing up the iron rungs.

More than merely steep, The Beehive can at times feel technically challenging, as you encounter near vertical terrain and use iron rungs to climb the trail’s most difficult sections. The trail also delivers a level of exposure more familiar to climbers, as hikers are frequently required to negotiate narrow ledges and exposed cliffs. People with small children, a fear of heights, or questionable footwork should consider following the Bowl Trail around The Beehive’s less-steep backside. Also, because of the hike’s steep nature, pets are not allowed.

Those who make the ascent will bask in fantastic views of Sand Beach, as well as Great Head and Frenchman Bay, from the open summit slabs. Because going up is easier than descending, I recommend that hikers follow the Bowl Trail back down. Also, this route creates a nice lollipop loop and allows for seeing a little bit more of the park.

Don’t let the short stature of The Beehive deter you from getting out and climbing this gem. With plenty of vertical, its semi-technical nature, and phenomenal views, this trail presents enough challenge for experienced hikers and plenty of adventure for new ones.

Looking at sand beach from a narrow ledge.