Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hiking in Acadia - The Precipice Trail

Yes, this is the Precipice Trail, straight ahead.
(By Steve) Since we were at one of the best places for hiking in the Eastern US, I had to take a solo hiking day to tackle the difficult trails of Acadia.   The trail that we saw the ambulances at on the previous Saturday was  the Precipice Trail.   We found out that a 22 year old female college student had fallen 60 feet and died there that day.  From what we heard, she fell from the part of the trail before the ladders, which is just a series of switchbacks.  I found out most of this information after I had completed the trail, but I would have not been deterred as long as the trail was still open.

Looking down on the rock pile section of the trail.
I took the free shuttle from our campsite to the trail head.  It took about 30 minutes to get there, including a bus change.  The trail is only about a mile, but it is almost straight up.  It begins with climbing a giant rock pile.  I'm sure I'm not the only one to miss the path on the rocks; I had to backtrack a bit to find the way up.  

They don't call this a hiking trail; they label it a non-technical climb on the sign.
The path itself begins with switchbacks up the rock.  It even goes down and over some before heading back up again.   The switchbacks take you about halfway up the cliff.   At this point, there are a series of iron ladders that take you the rest of the way.  Although the iron ladders are not hard to climb, I can see that they could be very slippery when wet.   This part of the trail was really fun; it was like a playground for grown-ups.   

It's a jungle gym for grown ups.
At the top of the trail, there are a few options to get down.  Since I didn't have to worry about getting back to the truck, I chose to walk the trail along the top of the ridge heading south and then head down on the Beehive Trail.   From the top, the views were magnificent.   You can see Bar Harbor, Sand Beach, and all the way down to Otter Point.   The weather was absolutely perfect, and I took my time enjoying the view.   

The view looking South from 3/4 of the way up.
The view looking North from 3/4 of the way up.
The path down the Beehive Trail is also challenging, but relatively easy compared to the Precipice Trail.   The hike itself was awesome, the view was incredible, and the weather was magnificent!  I didn't particularly enjoy riding the free shuttle all the way around the island from the Sand Beach stop to the Visitor Center as it seemed to take forever, but it was nice to not have to worry about hiking out & back to get back my vehicle.  I convinced Linda to come rescue me from the Visitor Center, so we wouldn't miss the junior ranger program that the kids needed to attend to get their badges.   

These were the biggest ones I found while I hiked along the ridge.\
The trail goes past this peaceful lake.
This is the top of the Beehive trail, which is how I got down.
This cannot be over emphasized given what happened two days before the day I hiked it.

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