Acadia hiking is short but steep

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of October 10-16, 1996
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Acadia hiking is short but steep
Question: With only a short fall weekend to spend at Acadia National Park, what trails would you recommend for hiking (moderate difficulty)? Have already done the carriage trails on bike. Thanks.

Auburn, ME
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Key thing to remember about Acadia National Park: There are 120 miles of hiking trails, but because the park is relatively small by most standards most of the hoofable routes are short jaunts requiring only a few hours for round-trip travel. Still, while you probably won't be too taxed by the length of the trails, you may be surprised by the quad-wrenching pitch of some of the steeper routes. Take, for example, the Precipice Trail, a .8-mile scramble along rocky outcrops and frighteningly narrow ledges up the sharp eastern face of 1,058-foot Champlain Mountain. Acrophobes steer clear: Park rangers weren't kidding when they posted the sign warning potential hikers of the wobbly, wrought-iron ladders and sharp drop-offs along the walk. Pick up the trailhead at the parking area on Ocean Drive, at the base of Champlain, or opt for an easier route to the summit via the 4.1-mile Champlain Mountain Trail.

If moderate crowds don't phase you, there's the 3.5-mile South Ridge Trail to the highest point on the Atlantic coast--1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain. Pick up the trail about 50 yards west of the Black Woods Campground, on the north side of Maine 3. If you have extra time to spare, consider escaping Mount Desert Island for laid-back hiking off the beaten path on Isle au Haut. This 4,700-acre island off Deer Isle has 30-some-odd miles of trails that wind through dark spruce-fir forest and rocky coves, like the four-mile Duck Harbor Trail. Getting there means a 45-minute, $9 ferry ride from the docks in Stonington to Town Landing. Better hurry, though; ferries only run through mid-October. Call park headquarters at 207-288-3338 for more hiking and ferry details.

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