On our second day in Acadia National Park, my friend Naomi and I headed to the western side of the island to hike up the Beech Mountain Fire Tower. This trail was close to our campsite at the Seawall Campground.
When we arrived at the Beech Mountain Parking Area we followed the signs to the Beech Hill Cliffs where we figured the tower would be. Spoiler Alert: This was the wrong trail.
I’m really glad we took it though.
We followed the trail for about 10 minutes of easy incline to some spectacular views of Echo Lake. The trail then looped around and we continued the trail back down to the parking lot. We could see the fire tower a few miles in the distance on the backside of the Beech Cliffs Loop and we were excited to to hike there next.
Here are a few photos we captured along the way:
There are several different options on how to complete this hike, including a more strenuous route than what we took featuring steps and ladders.
Option 1: ~0.8 miles. This is the route Naomi and I did, and the shortest and easiest route. Start from Beech Mountain parking lot at the green hiker icon. Then travel to the yellow trail merge and you can go either way around the loop. I recommend going straight at the merge because the views gradually reveal themselves. Trust me.
Option 2: ~0.8 miles. Another option to make this trail longer is to park at the Echo Lake Parking area instead and start at the red hiker icon on the map going north. This section of Beech Cliffs Trail is strenuous and not for dogs, children, or people with bad balance. You will be climbing up steep sections as well as some ladders. Once you get to the yellow trail merge, follow the loop to the scenic overlook and head back down the way you came. Other classic iron rung routes like this in Acadia include The Beehive Trail and the Precipice Trail on the east side of the island.
Option 3: 1.8-2.2 miles. This is known as the Canada Cliffs loop. Start at Echo Lake parking, at the red hiker icon, and follow the route north until you reach the first trail merge. From here head south. You can also add the 0.4-mile Beech Cliffs Loop before heading south. At one point, you will reach a trail junction and see a sign that says Canada Cliffs to Valley Trail, don’t take this unless you plan on visiting the Fire Tower.
If taking Option 2 or 3, and you also wish to hike to the fire tower, press onto the Beech Mountain Parking Lot.
Sometimes these trails are closed starting in late Spring until the end of Summer due to Peregrine Falcon nesting. Check the Acadia National Park Website for warnings and temporary trail closures.
Beech Mountain Fire Tower
After we finished the Beech Cliffs Loop, which only took about 20 minutes, we did some quick Google searches to find out where to go next. The trail we were originally searching for was the Valley Trail. The reason we were confused when we started was because this trail initially heads in the wrong direction, but then has a massive switchback.
Right of the bat, we were greeted with scenes out of Jurassic Park. The photo below is only a taste of what to expect. There are huge moss covered boulders, along with interesting plant life that was hard to capture with a camera. So, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself!
After about an hour of hiking we finally made it up to the fire tower. Unfortunately, when we got to the top, we found ourselves inside of a cloud. Therefore, the view at the summit is a surprise and you’ll have to tell me all about it if you ever make it on this fun moderate hike!
On the way back to our car we decided to set up hammocks and chill for a while. Great decision.
There are several options for this hike as well. We did an out and back route on the Valley Trail. We could have done the loop, but we wanted to hang our hammocks and knew there were some spots on the Valley Trail.
Option 1: 3.2 miles. This is what we did. Take the Valley Trail starting at the red hiker icon. At the next trail junction head north on the South Ridge Trail until you reach the summit.
Option 2: 1.1 miles. Go north on the Beech Mountain loop Trail. The shorter part of the loop (highlighted in blue) is more strenuous. The trail then loops around the back side of the mountain and you head back to the parking lot on the opposite section of the loop.
You can combine Options 1 and 2 together to create a larger loop including both the Valley Trail and the Beech Mountain Loop Trail, which would be 2.1 miles and give you a change of scenery on the way down. I highlighted this route in the map above. This is the most popular route.
The Beech Cliffs discussed at the begining of this post are to the northwest of the red hiker icon. Combine both the fire tower and the cliffs for a fun few hours of hiking!