How to Tackle Acadia's Most Dangerous Hike
In a land so quintessentially New England, visitors might be surprised to learn that Acadia has some of the best maintained trails of all of the national parks. Here, you can stroll along old carriage roads, walk to an island (we're serious!) and catch the first glimpse of sunrise in the U.S.
But that's not all.
Imagine ascending more than 1,000 vertical feet using ladders and iron rungs drilled into the side of a mountain. You must scramble through a massive boulder field and cautiously navigate knife-edge ridges fully exposed. Here, in New England's only National Park, there are six trails seemingly fitting this description, the most notorious of which is Precipice Trail.
Lauded as the most dangerous trail in the Park, the Precipice Trail is not recommended for children, those who are afraid of heights or anyone out of shape. Consider this Mother Nature's stair stepper; the only way you're going is up.
The trailhead is just over 7 miles from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center on Park Loop Road. It quickly climbs the steep east face of Champlain Mountain. It's recommended that you ascend 0.9 miles along Precipice Trail and return via Champlain Mountain North Ridge Trail and Orange & Black Path, making a 2.5-mile loop. Be warned: The trail may close from mid-March to mid-August in order to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
Oh, and don't expect to be following any cairns during your ascent. Instead, follow the blue blazes painted on tree trunks and boulders. Tip: In the boulder field, make sure to veer right, not left, to stay on the path. However, if you're the curious sort, there's a portion of an old decommissioned trail about a quarter-mile to the left. Understand that if you attempt to find this, you'll have to double back and navigate your descent over some pretty steep terrain.
Trailhead GPS: Latitude 44.349485; Longitude -68.187919
Length: 0.9 miles to the top of Champlain Mountain via the Precipice Trail; 2.5 miles roundtrip using Champlain Mountain North Ridge Trail and Orange & Black Path for descent
Elevation Gain: 1,041 feet
Bring: Light jacket, sunscreen, water and snacks
Know Before You Go: The trail may close from mid-March to mid-August in order to protect nesting peregrine falcons.