Precipice Trail

#2 of 126 trails in Acadia National Park

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The Precipice Trail is a difficult and very steep out and back (or loop) 1.8 mile RT trail using iron rungs and ladders on exposed cliffs providing spectacular views of Acadia National Park.

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J.r. Libby (752)

11 Completed10 Reviews

The Great Cave Trail may of been one of the closest kept secrets of Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park, yet thousands pass it without ever knowing its there, just off of the Precipice trail. . Very old maps had the words THE GREAT CAVE printed on them, but the words were not placed where the cave is. and years of searching both in libraries and on line, not a single photo could be found of the cave. In fact, only a few accounts exist that even talk about the Great Cave. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps the stories of such a Great Cave were just a myth.
Than everything changed after I began posting about the Great Cave on my website, LOST AND ABANDONED TRAILS OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK. A visitor to the site read about it and set out to find the cave - and he succeeded. Not only did he find it, for the first time that I know about, he uploaded photos showing at least what the entrance of the Great Cave looks like, and it is as large as the stories told, with an opening rising close to 100 feet, and the cave goes about 100 feet into the mountain side. The Great Cave of the Precipice does in fact exist.
So how does one go about finding a great cave that has remained hidden for many years? First you have to get to the Precipice parking lot in Acadia National Park. Do this by getting onto the ONE WAY section of the Park Loop road. Drive until you see large signs for the Precipice parking lot.
Now begin your hike up the Precipice trail, don't worry, your not hiking the entire Precipice trail - your only hiking the lower part.
You don't go very far before you come to a huge boulder with two or three iron hand rails in it to help you up over it. The story of this one boulder is interesting - some say the trail was made to go over this boulder to weed out the less experienced hikers, because that group usually turns around and heads back to the parking lot after encountering the boulder. The park service even has a special name for that boulder, they call it THE TURN AROUND.
Once your over that boulder, your almost at the abandoned trail. Continue until you come to a talus or boulder field. At that point the official trail goes right, and the abandoned Great Cave trail goes left. Follow the talus field to the left, at an angle as it heads toward a break in the woods above. The further you go, the rocks get smaller. Once you reach the break in the woods, there is a wrn path that leads upwards, and is steep. Use the tree's to help you up this short section, the entrance to the Great Cave is just up ahead. You will want to have a camera and a good flashlight with you if you want to explore the inside of the Great Cave.
when you begin your trek back down, go slow and use the tree's for support as you make your way down to the boulder field. I suggest you wear something with a good grip, like a good pair of hiking boots for this hike. and as your hiking this route, don't be surprised if hikers on the cliffs above yell down telling you your going the wrong way - as very few people even know where the Great Cave is located.
What makes the Great Cave trail off the Precipice trail a true ghost trail or phantom trail is that one must search it out in order to locate it.

Bill Watson (48065)

604 Completed195 Reviews

Hiking (climbing) on an overcast day in mid-August, the Precipice Trail was moderately busy as one of the first open days of the season. What was surprising after all the hype (forget it if you get vertigo), the strategically placed iron rungs, ladders and handholds make it less dangerous than Katahdin's Knife Edge between Pamola and Chimney peaks. We climbed up and then traveled the North Champlain trail to the Orange and Black trail on the way down, making it a great loop trail. As you are climbing, leave any hiking poles behind - they'll just get in the way. Some really cool climbing opportunities, some really exposed cliffs and a great sense of accomplishment when you reach the top. Take your time and enjoy stopping for pictures. One of the best views is the parking lot below... it gets smaller and smaller. Great workout and huge rewards for your effort... highly recommend it!

Zach Newhard (39)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Beautiful exposed views the entire climb. Very rewarding summit with ridgeline hiking at the peak. Definitely worth an early morning trip before crowds. Descend on Orange and Black Trail for parking lot.

Jess s (664)

12 Completed2 Reviews

This is by far the best trail on east coast if you like a strenuous climb, and not afraid of high. Most part of "hiking' is really a non-technical climbing with some help of handrails and ladders bolted in to the rocks. At beginning part of the trail, it is a rock scrambling with a steep vertical climb. Challenging, but very rewarding. This is a must climb trail everytime I visit the region. If you like the trail, it is closed in summer months for Falcon nesting, and opens in mid August. At peak, take north ridge trail and connect to black and orange trail, it will take you back to the lower part of precipice. The black and organ trail is also very interesting hike. Lots stairs to help you up/down the path. The whole loop is a good workout. But it is worth the effort!

Jamie Atkins (745)

26 Completed27 Reviews

Very strenuous hike. Almost more of a climb. The first obstacle is a good test of whether the trail is for you or not. You can skirt around it, but they don't get much easier. We went on a wet, cold, October afternoon. We made it about 3/4 to the top, but the fading daylight and wet, slippery rocks became too much for us. There are many places with a cable, handrail, or chain. There are also many sloping rock faces with dangerous exposed rock faces that, when wet, become a little concerning. We saw a few hikers with knee pads, not a bad idea! Great views, great adventure, great trail.

Serenity Coyne (500)

21 Completed5 Reviews

By far the best "hike" on Mt Desert Island. Not for the faint of heart. Extremely strenuous hike to the vertical ladders bolted into the rock. This trail goes straight up the rock cliff. It is closed for Peregrine Falcons in summer.

I've done this trail both in winter and fall. I did descend via the North Ridge to the black and orange trail to the lower Precipice trail. The views of the ocean are just breath taking.

A must do when in the region!!!

Jose Bubel (382)

80 Completed5 Reviews

A+ all the way. I went after a heavy rain and slippery it was. between the water and leaves made it more exciting. Highly recommended. Hiked back on North ridge Trail to the Orange and Black Path which cuts back over to the Precipice Trail. Very rewarding.

Marc Maheu (471)

10 Completed12 Reviews

I did this a little differently than everyone else that has written a review. I did the lower half of the Precipice trail and instead of doing the upper half, I took the longer Champlain North Ridge trail. This change added some distance but, Unfortunately cuts out se of the climbing aspects of the climb. The leaves were changing, the weather beautiful and the few people I met on the trail were very friendly- looking forward to getting back to Bar Harbor next summer and doing this one again.

Gail A. (816)

This is my favorite. You get a GREAT workout during the climb (note that it's a climb, not a hike), then you are rewarded with gorgeous views of the ocean. Doesn't get any better than this!

Ashley Bleimes (255)

21 Completed4 Reviews

We hit this trail early and it wasn't very crowded at all. Officially a non-technical climb, the trail is short but very, very sweet.