Acadia National Park, Maine, is one of the most visited National Parks in the U.S. National Park system. There’s a reason for that! So much to do, so much action, so much beauty. And one of the most popular activities in Acadia National Park? Hiking!
Hiking in Acadia National Park is as easy – or as difficult – as you want it to be. That’s what makes Acadia a great vacation destination for so many. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to achieve a front row seat to Mother Nature at work. And it’s a destination that won’t break the bank. For a mere $20 per car entrance fee, you receive a seven-day pass to hike over 120 miles of trails, and everything else Acadia National Park has to offer.
Seven Family Favorite Hikes in Acadia National Park
And so, with our seven-day park pass in the dashboard of our car, we set off to enjoy Mother Nature at her finest in Acadia National Park. Here are seven family favorite hikes for seven days at Acadia National Park. Enjoy the hikes, savor the views!
1. Ocean Path
Ocean Path is the perfect start of any hiking adventure in Acadia National Park. It’s easy, and it’s beautiful. The hike begins at Sandy Beach along the Atlantic Ocean, continues past Thunder Hole, and on to Otter Cliff.
Listen carefully when at Thunder Hole. You might just hear thunder! Don’t worry, it’s probably just the waves crashing on the rocks, which give this area it’s name.
Feeling adventurous? Wander along rocky outcrops near the ocean’s edge. Watch the waves as they crash onto the rocks. Jump from rock to rock. Just keep your distance from the edge. You don’t want to fall in, now!
Ocean Path is rated Easy (uneven ground but fairly level), and is 4.4 miles round trip. Not up for the 4.4 mile loop? Turn back at Thunder Hole, roughly the half-way point.
2. Cadillac Mountain – North Ridge Trail
The views from atop Cadillac Mountain are breath taking, stunning, and definitely an Acadia National Park “must-see.” Most people arrive at the top by a long, slow car ride up. Hiking the North Ridge Trail is a great alternative to that dull, boring car ride!
Your reward for all that hard work? Stunning views across Frenchman’s Bay! When the sun is shining, the views across Bar Harbor and Frenchman’s Bay are sublime.
Even if it’s not sunny, it’s worth the hike. Who knows? You might witness a rain storm racing into shore, maybe a rainbow too. Or enjoy a stomp through a rain puddle!
Cadillac North Ridge Trail is rated Moderate (some steep grades, some level stretches), and is 4.4 miles round trip. Start at North Ridge Trail parking lot on Park Loop Road.
3. Acadia Mountain Trail
It’s time to kick this hiking adventure up a notch! The trail of choice for this challenge? The Acadia Mountain Trail.
It’s a steep climb up nearly 680 feet of elevation, and involves lots of scrambling across rocky outcrops and bush-whacking through dense forest trails.
But once you’ve arrived at the summit, you’ll quickly understand why this challenging hike was well worth the effort. The reward for all this effort? Astounding views of Somes Sound. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll have these views all to yourself!
The Acadia Mountain Trail is rated Strenuous (steep grades, many steady climbs) and is 2.5 miles round trip. The trail begins at Acadia Mountain parking area on Route 102.
4. Ship Harbor Nature Trail
Another day, another adventure in Acadia National Park. After the challenging Acadia Mountain trail, it’s time to slow down a little. Today’s destination? Seawall and Ship Harbor. Today’s hike? An easy one along the Ship Harbor Nature Trail.
The trail winds through an evergreen forest and out onto the rocky Atlantic Ocean shoreline. More rocks, more adventures, and more fun off the beaten path. It’s the perfect trail for stretching one’s legs after the drive to Ship Harbor.
The Ship Harbor Nature Trail is rated Easy (uneven ground but fairly level) and is a 1.2 mile loop. The trail begins at Ship Harbor Parking area on Route 102A.
5. Parkman Mountain/Bald Peak Trail
Next up on our hiking trail list? Sargent Mountain. Or not! Keep a trail map handy at all times, because sometimes that trail you think you are on, is actually another trail! Yep, pay close attention to those many-pointed trail markers along the way.
That’s ok! Sometimes a missed trail sign is simply the opportunity for a different, yet equally as fun, hiking adventure. Parkman Mountain and Bald Peak Trails make for a relatively easy afternoon hike to some amazing views across Acadia and Bar Harbor.
Parkman Mountain and Bald Peak trails are rated Moderate (some steep grades, some level stretches). Most definitely a fun hike!
6. Giant Slide Trail
The Giant Slide Trail is part of the Sargent Mountain hiking trail, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a trail that will certainly challenge many, but it’s also a trail this family considers our most favorite of all our hikes in Acadia National Park.
The trail begins easy enough, meandering across boards and over streams. That doesn’t last long, though, as the trail carves it’s way through deep ravines and up steep inclines. It’s a rough and tumble climb up rocks. Down rocks. And in-between rocks. Yep, a trail full of fun challenges, indeed!
The Giant Slide Trail is rated Strenuous (steep grades, many stead climbs), and is 4.4 miles. The trail marker is on Route 3/198 and can be difficult to locate.
7. Schoodic Peninsula
Though somewhat removed from the main park, Schoodic Peninsula’s remote location means you won’t be fighting crowds to catch a stunning view. It’s also the perfect ending to an adventurous week of hiking.
Though most people will experience the Schoodic Peninsula by car, it’s beauty is even more appreciated when on foot. Perhaps not an “officially listed” hiking trail, walking along the shoreline to Schoodic Point is worth stopping the car for. The rock hopping opportunities here are sublime, even if it’s a drizzly, rainy day.
And if you time this adventurous walk to be near low tide, even better! Exploring the resulting tide pools will make it totally worth the stop. Who knows what ocean critters will be spotted in the tide pools?
Have You Hiked in Acadia National Park?
If you enjoy hiking, Acadia National Park is a prime destination for you. With over 120 miles of hiking trails at all skill levels, you are sure to find trails that suit your hiking style. Whether you are looking for an easy hike, or an all-day hike, you’ll find it at Acadia National Park. For more on hiking in Acadia National Park, visit the National Park Service Acadia National Park page.
Have you been to Acadia National Park? Did you hike while there? What was your favorite hike? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Stay tuned for my second post on Acadia National Park for more family fun and tips to planning your own vacation here.
Interested in a trip to Maine? Check out Top Ten Reasons Why Your Next Vacation Should Be In Bar Harbor Maine.
All images from C.Biederman