A pristine wilderness area off the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park is characterized by still lakes, rocky coastlines, pine woods and granite mountains.
Those mountains are, in fact, the highest on the entire Atlantic seaboard in the United States. Although not that big a national park, Acadia National Park offers a wide variety of attractions and activities. One of the absolute favorite things to do among visitors is hiking—the various day hikes in Acadia National Park bring outdoor enthusiasts to remote surf-pounded beaches, to the bare summits of coastal mountains or deep into the forests that cover part of Mount Desert Island.
Below, you’ll find a selection of strongly recommended day hikes in Acadia National Park, sorted according to level of difficulty.
A Handful of Day Hikes in Acadia National Park
Great Head Trail
Looping around Great Head, a rock-covered peninsula to the east of beautiful Sand Beach, the Great Head Trail runs through a scented pine forest and follows a section of the rocky coastline that is so typical of Acadia National Park. This is an easy hike, suitable for children as well as adults, its location near the park’s most popular beach making it a wonderful attraction in the morning—relaxing after the hike on the sandy beach is delightful.
Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers); loop
Jordan Pond Trail
This easy and scenic trail loops around stunning Jordan Pond, a small lake that’s one of the main attractions in Acadia National Park. Running through woodlands and along the lake’s rocky shoreline, the trail also offers fantastic views of peculiar Bubbles, a two-summit mountain.
Distance: 3.2 miles (5.1 kilometers); loop
Bubbles Divide Trail
If, after walking the Jordan Pond Trail and admiring Bubbles, you’re curious what the views from the summits of Bubbles look like, you can find that out by hiking the wonderful Bubbles Divide Trail, which offers access to both North Bubble and South Bubble. Near the summit of South Bubble lies Bubble Rock, arguably Acadia’s most famous rock, balancing seemingly unnaturally on the edge of a sheer rock cliff. The views from this point are spectacular, taking in Jordan Pond and the surrounding mountains.
Distance: 1.4 mile (2.3 kilometers); roundtrip
Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail
This is the longest of all day hikes in Acadia National Park. That said; the ascent to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the east coast of the United States, is fairly moderate. There aren’t any particularly steep sections to speak of—the whole hike runs relatively gently along the mountain’s south ridge. The ridge offers commanding views of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor, the mountain’s summit providing the greatest panoramic view of them all, taking in essentially the entire national park. The summit of Cadillac Mountain can also be reached by car, but hiking is unquestionably the most rewarding way of getting there.
Distance: 7 miles (11.3 kilometers); roundtrip
The Precipice Trail is widely considered to be the most difficult hiking trail in Acadia National Park. Even despite not being longer than one mile, this hike ascends 1,000 feet (more than 300 meters) on the almost vertical eastern flank of Champlain Mountain. To cover such an elevation gain in this short a distance, hikers rely on ladders, ropes and iron rungs to climb sheer rock faces, reach ledges and maneuver through gaps between rocks. It’s a thrill-ride of a hike, not suggested to the faint-hearted, definitely recommended to anyone with an adventurous spirit.
Distance: 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers); roundtrip