Last updated: June 10, 2021
If you are searching for an adventurous hike with a spectacular view, look no further than the Beehive loop. One of Acadia's famous rung and ladder trails, Beehive Loop is a great way to get acquainted with these difficult trails. If choosing this hike, expect steep granite staircases, iron rungs, and exposed cliff faces. As one of the parks most trafficked trails, people challenge their bodies and minds as they ascend this 450ft cliff trail and are rewarded with stunning views over Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and the Gulf of Maine stretching to the horizon.
Distance:1.4 miles round trip. Duration of hikes depend on your pace and if you stop and enjoy scenic areas. For an average pace, this hike takes 1 to 3 hours.
Safety:The trail is rocky and uneven. The first part of this trail ascends a 450-ft cliff with exposed edges. Steep drop offs with no railings require secure footings. Good foot wear is recommended.This trail is very dangerous in inclement weather. During rain events granite becomes extremely slippery. Allowing the rocks to dry provides a safer ascent.
The Trailhead: Where to Begin
The Beehive Trailhead
Getting to the Trailhead
By car: After passing through the Sand Beach Entrance Station, find parking either in the right hand lane or in the Sand Beach Parking Lot. Expect congestion and limited parking during summer months from 9 am to 3pm. Note: The Park Loop Road is closed from Mid-December to Mid-April.
By bus: Take the fare-free Island Explorer. Use Routes 3 (Sand Beach), 4 (Loop Road), or 10 (Blackwoods) and exit the bus at Sand Beach.
There is accessible parking at the Sand Beach parking areas as well as accessible restrooms.
- The Beehive Loop begins on the Bowl Trail across the park loop road from Sand Beach. There is a crosswalk at the top of the entrance to Sand Beach, the Bowl trailhead is located next to it.
- Follow the Bowl trail 0.2 miles up a creek bed to the trail interesection with the Beehive trail. Beware of loose rock and uneven footing. Proper footwear is recommended.
- Continue on the Beehive trail which is 0.6 miles and begin ascending the cliff on granite staircases and rock scrambles. As the climb continues set iron rungs are placed to help hikers in more difficult scrambles.
- As the trail climbs a gorgeous view of the Maine coastline starts to appear above the tree line. Rungs and ladders continue to be place the entire way until the summit is reached. Half way up the Beehive there is a section that involves walking across iron bars instead of solid ground.
- On the second half of the climbing section there are ladders that require being able to reach above the ladder and grab rungs to assist the climber in reaching the top of a small ledge. As you reach this section of trail the view continues to open up to see Sand Beach and farther up and down the coast.
- The trail crests over the cliff where there is still about 200 ft of uneven walking to reach the summit of the Beehive at 520-ft above sea-level. Enjoy panoramic vistas in all directions from the summit.
- The Beehive trail is a loop trail. It is not advised to return down the rung and ladders. The trail continues past the summit and descends down to the Bowl, a small peaceful pond between the Beehive and Champlain mountain. Do note, there are no more rungs or ladders present on the rest of the trail from the summit.
- The trail continues along the side of the Bowl until you reach a trail intersection that will read the Bowl Trail and Champlain South Ridge trail. Head left and return down the Bowl trail 0.4miles. This is a gradual descent down a dirt trail until it returns to the trail intersection that took the trail up the Beehive.
- Follow the same 0.2 miles of trail back out to the park loop road to finsih this hike.
- As the trail descends from the summit of the Beehive. There will be a Bowl Connector trail that is passed. If this connector trail is taken, it does reduce the length of the overall hike from 1.4 mies to 1.2 miles. This connector does miss seeing the Bowl pond.
- There are a variety of options to extend hikes from the Beehive Loop. Purchasing a park hiking map is an excellent resource to have to create longer hikes that involve the Beehive trail.