Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Precipice Trail -Acadia National Park, ME

"CAUTION: The Precipice is maintained as a non-technical climbing route, not a hiking trail. Attempt this route only if you are physically fit, wearing proper footwear, and have experience in climbing near exposed cliffs and heights. Allow 3 hours for a round-trip climb, Avoid this route during inclement weather or darkness. Stay on trail and do not throw or dislodge rocks onto hikers below. Persons have received serious injuries and others have died on this mountain side!"

     So reads the sign which someone deemed appropriate to place at the summit of Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park, though in my opinion it would be much more appropriate if it were at the parking lot entrance. People travel from all over to scramble up this 1,000 foot nearly vertical trail. The caution sign isn't joking when it states this is not a hiking trail. It consists mostly of rock scrambling, climbing up rungs and ladders, and occasionally shimmying across narrow exposed ledges. Adventurers ascend about 930 feet in only 0.8 mile. It is imperative to check the weather forecast before embarking on this adventure. I strongly advise bringing plenty of water and snacks and not climbing alone. Hardy footwear is essential - you will regret sandals immediately. I went with a group of four and we spotted each other at more technical points which ended up saving me from a potentially nasty fall at one point.

The entrance to the trail is at the Precipice parking area on the Park Loop Road. All trails within Acadia are very clearly marked and a big plus is the free buses that pick up and drop off all around Mount Desert Island. This was particularly convenient to us since we hiked up Precipice and ended up taking the easier route (Beehive Trail) down due to exhaustion. Unfortunately the easier route put us down on the opposite side of the mountain but the handy-dandy Acadia bus system came to the rescue. Pick up a bus service flier at any of the ranger stations.

Be sure to check here for trail closures before planning your visit. Peregrine falcons nest around this trail and conservation efforts involve closing certain areas for their safety.

A few photos from the trail

Though this trail is a beast to hike, the pay off is a breathtaking panoramic view of Mount Desert Island that is well worth the effort.

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