Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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Acadia's most famous trail, The Precipice, takes hikers straight up the east face of Champlain Mountain. While it isn't technical climbing, the sheer drops and strenuous nature of the climb will certainly test the mettle of many. The 0.9-mile ascent begins from a parking area off the loop road, and almost immediately begins its dramatic climb along open ledges and over 100-foot drops. The Precipice Trail isn't fooling around -- don't hike the trail if you aren't an experienced hiker, if you're afraid of heights or if it's wet. Plenty of other trails, like the Beachcroft Trail (on Route 3) and the Champlain South Ridge Trail (from Beehive's summit) provide less harrowing access to Champlain's scenic 1,058-foot summit.
Also, check the status of Precipice before you plan your trip. It's one of a handful of Acadia's trails that the park closes for nesting peregrine falcons. The National Park Service's Acadia website (nps.gov/acad) provides up-to-date listings of trail closures.
While I still prefer the solitude and cool temperatures of the spring and fall on Mount Desert Island, this was a great reminder that it's sometimes worth fighting the crowds. Acadia undoubtedly shines during the summer, and there's no better way to experience it than the dramatic ladder hikes.
Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at: