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Beech Mountain Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

By Thomas Tash

Beech Mountain

Beech Mountain Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

December 12, 2023by Thomas Tash

Your Complete Guide to Hiking Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park

Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park is a fantastic destination for hikers seeking panoramic views, diverse trails, and a unique hiking experience. Located on the western side of Mount Desert Island, Beech Mountain offers a variety of trails that cater to different skill levels and provide stunning vistas of the surrounding landscapes, including Echo Lake and the Atlantic Ocean. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about hiking Beech Mountain, including trail options, highlights, essential preparation tips, parking details, and more.

Getting to Beech Mountain

Beech Mountain is situated in the western part of Acadia National Park, near the town of Southwest Harbor. The most convenient access point is the Beech Mountain parking area, which provides easy access to several trailheads.

Parking Details:

  • Beech Mountain Parking Area: Located off Beech Hill Road, this parking area is the primary starting point for hiking the mountain. The lot can accommodate several vehicles, but it can fill up quickly during peak seasons, so it’s advisable to arrive early in the morning to secure a spot.

Trail Options

Beech Mountain offers several trails, each providing unique experiences and varying levels of difficulty. Here are the primary trails you can choose from:

1. Beech Mountain Trail

The Beech Mountain Trail is the most direct route to the summit. Starting from the Beech Mountain parking area, this 1.2-mile round-trip trail features a moderate ascent through forests and over rocky ledges. The trail offers stunning views of Echo Lake and the surrounding mountains, making it a rewarding hike for those seeking panoramic vistas.

2. South Ridge Trail

The South Ridge Trail is a longer and more gradual ascent to the summit of Beech Mountain. This 2.4-mile round-trip trail begins at the Beech Mountain parking area and winds through dense forests, offering a peaceful and scenic hike. The trail provides several viewpoints along the way, showcasing the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

3. Beech Cliff Trail

For those seeking a more challenging and adventurous hike, the Beech Cliff Trail offers a steep ascent with some rock scrambling. This 1.9-mile round-trip trail starts near the Beech Mountain parking area and climbs sharply up the cliffs, providing dramatic views and a more secluded hiking experience.

4. Valley Trail

The Valley Trail is a scenic route that combines a peaceful forest walk with a moderate climb to Beech Mountain. This 3.2-mile round-trip trail begins at the Beech Mountain parking area and follows the valley floor before ascending through forests to the summit. The trail provides a unique perspective on the park’s diverse ecosystems.

What to Expect on the Trails

Hiking Beech Mountain offers a mix of terrains, including forested paths, rocky scrambles, and open ledges. Here’s what you can expect on your hike:

  • Elevation Gain: The elevation gain to the summit is approximately 839 feet, making it a moderate hike suitable for most fitness levels.
  • Views: The mountain offers panoramic views of Mount Desert Island, including Echo Lake, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding mountains. On clear days, you can see the Cranberry Isles and even parts of the mainland.
  • Flora and Fauna: The trails are surrounded by diverse vegetation, including spruce and fir forests, wildflowers, and moss-covered rocks. Wildlife sightings are common, with opportunities to see birds, deer, and other woodland creatures.

Best Time to Hike Beech Mountain

The best time to hike is from late spring to early fall. During this period, the weather is mild, and the trails are generally in good condition. Fall offers the added bonus of stunning foliage, with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows creating a picturesque backdrop. Summer can be busy, so consider an early morning or late afternoon hike to avoid the crowds and enjoy cooler temperatures.

Preparation and Safety Tips

Proper preparation is essential for a safe and enjoyable hike. Here are some tips to help you get ready:

  • Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction. The trails can be rocky and uneven, so proper footwear is crucial.
  • Clothing: Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. A moisture-wicking base layer, insulating mid-layer, and waterproof outer layer are recommended.
  • Water and Snacks: Bring plenty of water and high-energy snacks. Hydration is key, especially during warmer months.
  • Trail Map and Navigation: Carry a trail map or download a GPS app with offline maps. Cell service can be spotty in the park.
  • Safety Gear: A first aid kit, headlamp, and multi-tool are essential items for any hike.
  • Leave No Trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting wildlife.

Highlights and Scenic Points

Beech Mountain offers numerous scenic points and highlights that make the hike truly special:

  • The Summit: The summit of provides panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, Echo Lake, and the surrounding landscape. It’s an ideal spot for a well-deserved break and photo opportunity.
  • Fire Tower: The historic fire tower at the summit adds a unique touch to the hike. When park staff are present, often during the summer months, the fire tower’s platform and interior room are open for public access. Dogs on leashes are allowed to accompany hikers on the trails but cannot climb to the top of the tower because of the open grating on the steps and platform.
  • Echo Lake: The trails offer stunning views of Echo Lake, a pristine body of water that is popular for swimming and boating. The lake’s clear waters and surrounding mountains create a picturesque scene.
  • Wildlife: Keep an eye out for wildlife along the trails, including deer, birds, and other woodland creatures. The diverse habitats around Beech Mountain support a variety of species.

Nearby Attractions

While Beech Mountain is a highlight in itself, there are several nearby attractions worth exploring:

  • Echo Lake Beach: Located at the base of Beech Mountain, Echo Lake Beach is a great spot for swimming, picnicking, and relaxing by the water. The beach is family-friendly and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Long Pond: Just a short drive from Beech Mountain, Long Pond offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The tranquil waters and scenic surroundings make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Southwest Harbor: This charming village near Beech Mountain offers additional hiking opportunities, quaint shops, and beautiful coastal views. It’s a great place to explore before or after your hike.

Frequently Asked Questions About Beech Mountain

Where to park when hiking Beech Mountain?

  • The closest parking area is the Beech Mountain Parking Area, located off Beech Hill Road.

What is the best time to hike Beech Mountain?

  • The best time to hike is in the morning before 9 AM or in the late afternoon/evening. Parking is limited at most popular attractions in Acadia National Park, and these trailhead areas can become quite busy.

Can I take the free Island Explorer Shuttle to hike Beech Mountain?

  • Yes! While the Island Explorer does not go to the Beech Mountain Parking Area, it does go to the Echo Lake Beach Parking Area, which provides trail access to Beech Mountain.

Can I bring my dog on the Beech Mountain trails?

  • Dogs on leashes are allowed to accompany hikers on the trails but cannot climb to the top of the fire tower because of the open grating on the steps and platform.

Are kids allowed to hike Beech Mountain?

  • Yes, children can hike Beech Mountain, but it is important to consider the trail difficulty and the hiking experience of your children. Always supervise young hikers closely, especially on more challenging sections.

How long are the trails on Beech Mountain?

  • The Beech Mountain Trail is a 1.2-mile round trip, the South Ridge Trail is a 2.4-mile round trip, the Beech Cliffs Trail is a 1.9-mile round trip, and the Valley Trail is a 3.2-mile round trip. Hiking times can vary depending on pace and trail conditions.

Ready to explore Beech Mountain? Buy your Acadia National Park Pass here and start planning your next adventure.

*Before embarking on any hike, you should always consult a map and stop by a visitor center or ranger station to ask a ranger about the latest trail conditions. Trail conditions can change rapidly due to weather or other factors, and park rangers can provide the most current information to ensure your hike is safe and enjoyable.

Thomas Tash

Tom Tash is the Founder and Co-Owner of Acadia East Campground and Pocket Parks Campgrounds. Tom began his career in Outdoor Recreation at the University of Maine at Machias before joining the City of Portland Recreation Department and becoming the Recreation Director for the Town of Bridgton. Tom became deeply invested in the national parks as the Marketing Director for a national park travel guide company. He co-founded Acadia East Campground in 2017/18.

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