Dan and the Bad Ass Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park 

Precipice acadia map

Bad ass, really Dan?  Sans doute!  Though the Precipice Trail doesn’t have the death-defying heights and drop-offs of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, it was physically more challenging and exhausting.  Let me explain.

Prec 1DD closeup warning sign

Having past success scaling Angel’s Landing in Utah (click here for that blog) and the Precipice’s Little Brother in Acadia, the Beehive Trail (click here for that blog), the morning of our hike I keep to myself my wonder if I am up to the challenge climbing up the side of Champlain Mountain.

Arriving at the trailhead of the Precipice mid-morning on this last Monday in September, Mitch Sakofs, my buddy from my days teaching at Eastern Connecticut State University, and I park on the Park Loop Road beyond the trailhead.  I think, if so many people can climb this mountain, how hard can it be?

Prec 2 M as trail begins

My buddy Mitch as the rocky climb begins

Immediately, we are ascending a trail of rocks and boulders.  And then we hit the Massive Crucible Boulder.  At this point, hikers must lift their leg high enough to step up to a three foot metal rung, then again up to another rung, grasp for a stone handhold with the left hand, and elevate to the boulder above.  It’s a fabulous threshold challenge.  If you can’t mount this boulder, this is not the hike for you.

Prec 3A walkway on cliffside

Having the good fortune of hiking with an experienced mountaineer in Mitch, I have him lead, so I can watch where he steps and see what handholds he finds.  Constantly encouraging, he offers these climbing tips: (1) in each stone look for a handhold in the rock, (2) whenever possible take a small step rather than a big step, and (3) finally be sure on the cliff sides and stone slopes to have three points of contact (two feet and a hand).

Prec 3C keeper cliffside preview

Much of the trail I am grabbing the stone faces or pulling myself up with the rungs sunk deep in the rock face.  Every time I need a metal rung, there’s one there.  Throughout the climb I’m guessing I have 200 rungs and one well-placed metal ladder at my disposal.

Prec 4C more rungs

I never have an “oh shit” moment when I wonder what the hell I am doing or doubt if I will make it.  That said, it’s a bitch; as I climb I just keep repeating in amazement this is one bad ass climb as I step and stretch higher and higher. A few times I have to kneel to boost myself up onto the next boulder.

Though the trail is but 1.6 miles to the top, it takes us nearly two hours.

Prec 5 m with rungs

Once at the top, we chat up the twenty-somethings and enjoy the vista to Frenchman Bay.  To return to the Park Loop Trail, we descend on the far less steep Champlain North Ridge and Orange and Black Trails.

Will I do it again?  Only if someone really wants to climb it with me.  And as luck would have it, I have such a person – Hannah Banana.  She’s fired up for this vertical adventure!

Click here for a five minute YouTube video on the Precipice Trail.

Prec 5A d and m at top

Two recommendations: For breakfast prior – Sylvia’s Café in Ellsworth.  For lunch after – the Mainly Meat BBQ of the Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor.







Prec 1 D at Sylvia's Cafe

Breakfast at Sylvia’s Cafe in Ellsworth, Maine (15 miles from Bar Harbor)

Prec 1B parking at trailhead 2

The fifteen trailhead parking spots were taken when we arrived at 10A, so 30+ of us parked in the right lane of the Park Loop Road


Prec 3 first rungs

Mitch leading the way


Prec 3B rungs on mountainside

The ever-present rungs to deal with the ever-present verticality


Prec 3D cliffside fair

The cliffside with metal rungs for stepping on and hand grabbing


Prec 4 more rungs nearer top


Prec 4B cliffside with rungs


Prec 6 atlantic brewery

Apres at the Mainly Meat BBQ of the Atlantic Brewing Company just outside of town


Prec 6A unattended children

Sign at the playground connected to the Mainly Meat BBQ

12 thoughts on “Dan and the Bad Ass Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park 

  1. Obviously we did not hike the Precipice Trail during our recent visit to Acadia, but did enjoy a stroll through the woods and the walk between Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. That’s more our speed. Congratulations on your climb and I’m sure Hannah can do it also.

    • You must be back in Bluegrass State! Is the grass actually blue? Or does blues having something to do with it? Glad you got to visit us and explore the Pine Tree State. And glad we rocked the Cliff Walk in York with you!

    • No, the grass is green unless it grows tall enough to bloom and then the blooms are blue. When viewed in a large field it looks like bluegrass. Yes, we arrived home on Saturday, tired from 3 long days of traveling, but glad to be home.

  2. Wow! What an accomplishment! This is not in my list of “Things I Want to Try” (remember, I’m the one who walked down the mountain!) but I’m uber-impressed! Go, Dan! Can’t wait to read about the climb with Hannah!

    • Chacun a son gout. Ever take French in high school? “Each to his own.” I think of doing such challenges as long as I can because there will come a day when I can’t or don’t have the “want to” to do them.

  3. I have wondered about this trail……it was hard enough to convince Glenn to do The Beehive. Gorgeous photos. Patty

  4. Pingback: Dan and Hannah Tame the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park – over60hiker

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