Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine
Easter Sunday was gloriously warm here on the island~in the 70’s which is unheard of this time of year!
We went to Beech Mountain for a late afternoon hike. Surprisingly the parking lot had quite a few cars in it. When we got out of the car you could feel the coolness of the snow that was lingering in the edge of the shaded woods and on the ledges above.
Beech Mountain is a fairly easy hike~there are actually 4 different ways to reach the summit. On the Acadia National Park website it’s rated a “moderate” hike. If you go on the trail that is at the northern end of the parking lot you have two options~that is the route we took. After a few hundred feet the trail splits and you can go up 4/10 of a mile up some moderately steep ledges or go around the side toward Long Pond which is 7/10 of a mile. We chose the steeper route for the way up. There were a few patches of snow/ice on the way up but most of the trail was clear and dry.
The moss covered ledges on the way up are very pretty and there are several vistas where you get a peek at the view you will enjoy from the top.
Some of the ledges have stone steps built in to make them easier to traverse. As you approach the top you can feel the breeze start to pick up which is refreshing on such a hot day!
Once at the top you will find the fire tower. The fire tower was constructed in the 1940’s and was a wooden structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was used during the 1940’s and 1950’s. The wooden tower was replaced with the current steel one in the early 1960’s and was originally manned part time but now is not used by Acadia National Park.
Access to the top of the tower is blocked but if you climb up the first set of stairs you have a great view of Echo Lake, Acadia Mountain and especially of the Great Harbor and the islands beyond. While we were on the top an eagle was gliding above us~no doubt looking for a snack.
From the summit you can take the trail that goes down over the southwestern side of the mountain and winds through the woods and ends up back at the parking area. This is a good choice on a hot summer day as the mossy, wooded trail is almost always several degrees cooler than the more open trail that goes along the “Long Pond” side. We chose the Long Pond side trail to go down for a total 1.1 mile hike. After you go a few hundred feet on this trail there is a steeper trail that goes down to the pumping station parking lot at Long Pond.
We continued along and again you are rewarded with peeks of views as you progress down the trail. We stopped once we got to the part overlooking the “narrows”. This is the deepest part of Long Pond (up to 200′ deep!) which is between Beech Mountain and Western Mountain. The views of Long Pond and Blue Hill Bay beyond are awesome. This is especially pretty if you do an early morning hike up Beech Mountain~the light is just right!
While we were stopped over looking the view, two eagles came gliding by (I’m sure one was the one we saw earlier). They are such beautiful creatures and despite the wind being a bit strong they were just soaring above us. Certainly a bonus for the hike!
This is a woodpecker’s way of carving ‘I was here’ into a tree.The signs of spring were everywhere from the runoff trickling down through the small brooks from the top headed for Long Pond and the budding leaves on the maple and birch trees. Usually on this hike you can see several bird species..this time other than the eagles we saw only evidence of a pileated woodpecker.
When you get back to the parking lot there is a trail across the street that goes to Beech Cliff called the Beech Cliff Loop Trail. This easy trail has been reconstructed over the past few years and is now more accessible for all. There is stone dust on the trail bed and it’s wider than it was with the “roots” taken up or covered. This is a very short hike with big view rewards! When you get to the end of the trail you have a bird’s eye view of Echo Lake and of the beach area. Beyond that you can see Somes Sound, Sargent’s Mountain and in the distance Cadillac Mountain. There are also two other trails that leave Echo Lake Beach~one is a ladder trail (Beech Cliff Trail) and the other winds through the woods at a more gradual (but still quite steep) pace called Canada Cliffs Trail. All in all this small area has several options for exploring the hills between Echo Lake and Long Pond. Be sure to take a selfie with your hiking buddy when you’re done :)!
We had a great spring hike and it was a great way to start the hiking season. So many places to go next!