Location: Acadia National Park
Distance: 1.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous in spots
Ages: 4 and up
Beech Mountain is always one of the first hikes we get to each year. It’s got just the right amount of challenge and is relatively short, but the views make it feel like a big payoff.
To get to the trailhead, take Route 198 from the head of Mount Desert Island through Somesville. Turn right onto to Route 102 (Pretty Marsh Road) and then left onto Beech Hill Road and follow it to the parking lot at the very end.
There are multiple routes to the top of Beech Mountain from this lot. For adults and teenagers, I recommend starting at the far edge for the Valley Trail/South Ridge route. This is a beautiful longer route through a mossy forest that can feel primordial in spots. However, in my experience, scenic views aren’t as valued by the younger set, who prefer drama. So we took the Beech Mountain trailhead instead and got right to it.
Soon after starting the hike you must choose the left fork–a steeper .4 miles to the top–or the right–a saner .7. Remember the rules for hiking with kids? We took the steeper option. There are lots of log steps, some stone steps, and some straight up scrambling over granite faces. It’s an invigorating workout for the adults, but most kids I’ve seen do it scamper up with few problems.
At the top of the mountain is an old fire tower. It’s locked at the top, but the stairs are open part way up and more adventurous kids will like the opportunity to get just a little bit higher. Wide granite stretches with great views offer opportunities to rest, snack and clamber around before heading back down.
We like to take the longer route down for both the slower descent–those steep granite pitches are actually easier to go up than climb down–and the nice views of Long Pond. Just make sure you don’t accidentally head off down the West Ridge trail part way down, as you’ll end up on the wrong side of the mountain.
Kid rating: two thumbs up.
Kid review: “Tell people that this hike is great because it isn’t that challenging.” (Many adults I know would disagree.)
For another take on this popular hike, try Aislynn’s One-Minute Hike review.