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Top 4 Iron Rung Hikes in Acadia National Park

Test your limits and earn unparalleled views on one of Acadia’s acclaimed iron rung routes.

Hiking Severe, Extreme

Precipice Trail Loop
Photo: Doug Urban


With more than 150 miles of trail spread across 50,000 acres, Acadia National Park is host to a stunning selection of Maine coastline painted with mountains, lakes, streams, and even wetlands. According to Wikipedia, the park “boasts a glaciated coastal and island landscape, an abundance of habitats, a high level of biodiversity, clean air and water, and a rich cultural heritage,” not to mention the abundance of hiking opportunities.

While there are easier family-friendly hikes in the park, such as Cadillac Mountain or the Wonderland Trail, Acadia is home to a unique selection of “rung and ladder” or “iron rung” trails. These death-defying day hikes traverse steep slopes and exposed granite cliffsides and are not for anyone with a fear of heights or for young children. Pets are also not allowed under any circumstance, though they are permitted in other parts of the park.

One of Acadia’s most iconic and visited hikes is the Beehive Trail. Considered the easiest iron rung route, this hike offers unparalleled cliffside views and is the ideal choice to become comfortable on these unique and physically-demanding trails. “If you are searching for an adventurous hike with a spectacular view, look no further,” the park suggests.

Slightly more difficult, Beech and Canada Cliffs and Jordan Cliffs are two other options to make the list. In contrast to views of islands and coastline, these hikes offer vantages of Echo Lake and Jordan Pond, respectively. Beech and Canada Cliffs is also described as “some of the most interesting and vertical cliff formations in the park,” according to this local guide. It also happens to be one of the lesser-visited iron rung routes you will find.

Rounding out the list, the infamous Precipice Trail is an epic hike above Bar Harbor with commanding views reaching far across the park. It even made it into this guidebook highlighting some of the most incredible day hikes in the US. Many would consider this the most difficult route on the list, thanks to a staggering 1,200’ of climbing packed into the short 2-mile circuit.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/hiking.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AcadiaNationalPark#Recreation https://www.citrusmilo.com/acadiaguide/

Routes included

Related guidebooks