Beech Mountain is the prominent peak located between Long Pond and Echo Lake that has several tall ridgelines and cliffs descending to the east. In this section of Acadia National Park is a fairly complex network of trails that wander through the Beech Cliffs, the Canada Cliffs, and also head to the summit of Beech Mountain proper. Two fun little loop hike options include the short-but-sweet Beech Mountain Trail (Beech Mountain Loop) and the slightly longer Beech Mountain Valley Trail to South Ridge Trail. Both hikes offer beautiful and varied scenery and top out at one of Acadia's famous landmarks, the Beech Mountain fire tower.
To get to the Beech Mountain parking area, just south of Somesville, turn west on the well-marked Pretty Marsh Road, then turn left (south) on Beech Hill Road and follow it for roughly four miles until it ends at the fairly large parking area within Acadia National Park.
|Rating:||Moderately strenuous day hike|
|Access:||Beech Mountain Parking Area|
|Time Required:||1-2 hours for Beech Mountain Loop; 1.5-3 hours for Valley Trail/South Ridge loop|
|Length:||1.2 miles for Beech Mountain Loop; 2.1 miles for Valley Trail/South Ridge loop|
|Elevation Change:||340-ft elevation gain to summit|
|Seasons:||Spring through fall|
The Beech Mountain parking area has trailheads going in all directions so make sure that you are on the trail you intend to be on! For this hike, look for the "Beech Mountain Trail" marker in the northwest corner of the lot. The Beech Mountain Trail starts out fairly level in lovely forested terrain along the gradual slopes of Beech Mountain. At the first trail junction, you can choose either loop, but the left (eastern) option trail is the most direct trail to the summit.
Follow the trail as it makes a more aggressive ascent up the interesting granite formations. While this route may seem a bit strenuous, it is very short and soon enough, you will be standing at the summit under the majestic old Beech Mountain fire tower. While the fire tower is typically closed so you can't climb to the very top, you can walk up the first set of steps to get a great view in all directions. When looking to the northeast, you can even see Acadia Mountain and the majestic Sargent Mountain far in the distance.
To complete the loop hike, follow the trail west into the forest, passing the junction with the West Ridge Trail. As the trail loops around and starts its slow descent to the north, there are several spots of bare granite cliffs that offer beautiful open views of Long Pond; this is a wonderful spot to be at in late afternoon. Soon enough, the trail re-enters the forest and you are back at the parking area.
For a longer loop hike, the Valley Trail is an alternate route to the summit of Beech Mountain. From the south side of the parking area, take the Valley Trail as it heads south into the dark forested valley under Beech Mountain. Several large fallen boulders speckle the landscape and the whole valley feels like something mysterious out of Jurassic Park.
At the intersection with the Beech Mountain South Ridge Trail, take the South Ridge Trail as it starts heading north zigzagging up the forested mountain. Once on top of the ridge line, you will get several unobstructed views to the east and west, including the top of a cliff wall that is popular with climbers. Soon enough, you will be at the summit fire tower and you can take the short Beech Mountain Trail back to the parking lot.
Both of these trails are fun and offer wonderful forest scenery as well as several open views of Mansell Mountain and Long Pond to the west. If you are up for the hiking, I would do both loops back to back to get your fill of the area. Alternatively, starting at the Long Pond parking area, the more remote West Ridge Trail is a third option for hiking up Beech Mountain.