"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cliff Hiking, Precipice Trail - Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
Lamoine State Park

We should have known better.  After visiting the Visitor Center in Acadia National Park, looking over maps and reading trail descriptions on-line, we still decided to take on the challenge of Precipice Trail.

According to the dictionary:
    prec-i-pice:  noun, a very steep rock face or cliff, typically a tall one. A sheer drop.

Even the trailhead sign didn't scare us! (although Glenda says we're lucky she didn't see it!)

From the information we gathered, the Precipice Trail is a difficult and very steep trail using iron rungs and ladders on exposed cliffs providing spectacular views of Acadia National Park. The hike is not recommended if you are afraid of heights or experience vertigo. The trail starts up steps and through some boulder scrambles. While it's a non-technical hike due to strategically placed iron rungs, ladders and rock ledges, this is a climb that requires you to be able to navigate some tricky spots by pulling yourself up.  The very first set of two rungs will give you a good idea of what is ahead.  If you have problems with this part, you may want to turn back as this is pretty much your only chance to do so.  This trail is considered one-way since it is so narrow.  It would be very unsafe for passing.  Even trying to go down the very skinny rungs would be difficult.  The hike is 3 miles if you make a loop out of it and come down the Champlain North Ridge/Black & Orange trails and then along the surface road for a bit.  The gain is 1072 feet.

The trail starts climbing right up some stone granite steps.
Here is that first boulder with the awkwardly placed rungs.
Glenda going up showing that it is very difficult for us shorter folks to get up due to the spacing.  (sorry Glenda!)  The grab rung on top of the boulder is hard to reach to be able to pull yourself  up. Sometimes we had to lift our feet up to reach the rung itself, sometimes we needed a push or pull!  Surprisingly I got myself lifted up ok, but my lower foot slipped twice on the smooth rock and I almost needed help.
What is nice is that there are gorgeous views the entire hike, IF you're brave enough to turn around and look!  


The trail climbs and crosses over a massive boulder field. 
Up more boulders.

And more boulders.

Then you get to climb through a hole in the rocks and under other boulders. Snug fit!

A newly replaced cliffside bridge.

You hike on the cliff bands which follows a ledge system up the cliffs.  The metal handrails are extremely helpful except that they hang over the cliffs.  Even when you're trying to hug the walls you have to lean out a bit.
It was pretty scary but we're feeling pretty confident, so far.  No handrail on this section.

Glenda drew the first blood.

From this junction we take the Champlain Summit trail to the top.

The views get more spectacular and the climbing gets a little crazier.
Some times hands and knees gets you over the scary parts!

Now things get real.  We are pretty much cliffside the rest of the hike.  The rungs are on every section that we climb.  They don't always make sense and you have to think about which one to put which foot on and which one to use for your hands.  Again, they are awkwardly spaced for shorter people.

Now some of us are starting to feel a little bit out of our comfort zone.
We try to admire the pretty colors and views but it was really hard to take your attention away from the rungs.  The rungs are also very smooth and your feet sometimes slip off.

We just kept saying, MORE RUNGS?!  When will we be at the top?!

And there was a ladder just to mix it up some.

If you look closely you can see all the rungs.

That's a straight drop down on the sloping cliff.


Glenda saying this has to be it!

The last push to the top!

THE TOP!  Finally!!

Veni, Vidi, Vici !!

We oohed and awed and took lots of pictures up top.  365 degree views.

There is a lighthouse on this island just off the shore.

After some lunch and pictures, we made sure we found the way to the Black & Orange trail.
So happy to be off the cliff and those rungs!
Curt leading the way down.

What?! I thought this was the easy way down and no more bouldering?  Our legs were still shaky.

Nice little phrase I came upon that sums up the trail:

When you start doubting yourself,
remember how far you have come. 
Remember everything you have faced,
all the battles you have won, and all
the fears you have overcome!
So true after that hike!   Now we are off to get some more lobster to fill our growling bellies!

I forgot the name of the place we ate, but it was delicious!
We were hoping to find somewhere in the town of Bar Harbor but the place was packed!  It was very difficult maneuvering the dually truck through the crowded streets.  Once we decided we were not going to find a place to park we gave up and headed back towards camp.

That wraps up our time in Bar Harbor.  Next we drive up to Millinocket our hike to Mt. Katahdin.


  1. Sounds like a great hike and a bit challenging, just the kind of hike that we like to do. Acadia National Park is a beautiful place. We only spent a couple of days there back in July 2011 and said that if we ever get back there again it will be in the shoulder season because it was just too busy for our liking. Have a great hike up Mt. Katahdin. We haven't done that one either but we did do Mt. Washington.


    1. Good for you doing Mt. Washington! We hit a snag with that one and will have to try again some day!

  2. OMG! That looks like a crazy hike! Congrats on making it! I am surprised they didn't suggest wearing gloves. I don't know if you've ever done Picacho Peak in AZ, but it has a lot of rungs and cables and they do suggest gloves and it really helped. Good job!

    1. I have only done part of Picacho (I was still sick). I do better without gloves. I just can't get good finger holds with gloves. I'd like to finish Picacho next Spring.

    2. Picacho is our favorite hike- we have done it 5 times :)

  3. That quote should be Glenda's mantra. Wonderful challenge and stretching ourselves with in many ways.

  4. Awesome challenge!! Way to go! Love the views from top. You four conquered this the right way...slowly and helping each other. Hard to believe three miles can be such a killer. Yes, you are now ready to complete Picacho Peak!! That was exciting:)

  5. Y'all are very brave! Excellent job!

  6. Of course you celebrated with lobster! That looks like a really cool trail and one we will have to put on our list for next summer!

  7. Geez, what a buncha crazies! I thought I raised you better than to go out climbing on scary mountains!!!

    1. We took you guys there when you were little, but you probably don't remember. But not on that hike. You'd have loved it.

  8. Great job mama and pop pop! Epic hike


  9. Wow...that's one heck of a trail that I'd love to try, but no way in hell would I get Dianne on it! The views look so worth it.
    Safe travels!

    1. It was really fun! Especially since it's over ;-)

  10. You crazies!!! Great job, not sure my vertigo could handle it.

  11. We want to thank you for taking us up a trail we have never been able to hike. We had just finished up two months at Acadia NP when you made the hike. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately for us, The Precipice Trail was closed to protect the Peregrine Falcons nesting there. It must have just opened when you hiked it. Great job and love the photos!!!

    1. Oh, bummer. Yes I forgot to mention the trail closure for the falcon nesting season. Usually starts in mid March and I'm sure lasts for 2 or 3 months.

    2. Usually Precipice Trail is closed until early to mid August. We've been there several times in June and July and it has always been closed. Jordan Cliffs Trail is also always closed for the same reason and the same time.

  12. We never did the Precipice trail but have hiked the Beehive more than once- it was a great trail!

    1. I hear they are very similar. We'll have to hike Beehive another time!


I’d love to hear from you! It’s more fun when you leave a comment!