Precipice Trail#8 in Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park
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The Precipice Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes in the park, as long as you have the guts to attempt it. The challenging, 2-mile round-trip path has visitors scrambling up the side of Champlain Mountain by iron rungs and ladders fixed to exposed cliffs, all for a scenic summit and unparalleled view of Sand Beach.
Unfortunately, the trail isn't one size fits all. Recent travelers warned that the trail isn't well-suited for visitors who are afraid of heights. If you're on the fence about whether you're up for the challenge, reviewers suggest you first try tackling the Beehive Trail – a strenuous but shorter trail on the park's east side. And to avoid being stuck behind fellow hikers, start your climb early.
The trail's head and parking area is located north of Sand Beach on Park Loop Road. Keep in mind that there are occasional trail closures from mid-March to mid-August to protect the nesting peregrine falcons. Check with a ranger or on the National Park's website for more details.
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#1 Cadillac Mountain
Standing about 1,530 feet in height, Cadillac Mountain wins a lot of superlatives. Not only is it the tallest mountain in the park, but it's the tallest mountain on the North Atlantic seaboard. Whether you hike up the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail or drive up the 3 1/2-mile narrow access road, go early. As the only attraction in the park that can be reached by car, Cadillac tends to draw crowds. If you do arrive by car, you should drive slowly, especially as the roadside cliffs get steep. Along the road, you'll find several small observation areas: take advantage of those before you reach the top, where the crowds and tour buses congregate.
For the ultimate vistas, set your alarm clock and try to catch a sunrise here. Cadillac Mountain is the first point of the United States to greet the rising sun's rays from early October to early March, and visitors assure it is a spectacular sight to see. While recent travelers said a trip to Acadia isn't complete without a stop at Cadillac Mountain, they also cautioned the area gets crowded, even in the early morning hours (some reported arriving two hours before sunrise). If you're visiting during the winter months, you'll have to hike the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail; the park closes down the access road for the winter season. Pack blankets and hold on to your hats, too, as it gets chillier as you ascend.
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