I recommend visiting Acadia when the blueberry bushes have turned red. The air is crisp, most places are still open, and everyone is so much more relaxed than in summertime.
And so it was on a recent October morning when my companion and I decided to hike the Precipice. My Somesville neighbor Bill leaned against the picket fence separating our houses and stated in a Maine monotone, “It’s the only trail in Acadia where people have died.”
The Precipice Trail climbs 930 feet in 0.8 mile to the top of Champlain Mountain. With Dorr and Cadillac to the west, Champlain is the closest mountain in Acadia to Frenchman Bay. Thus, the foghorn provided musical accompaniment as we scrambled boulders and quickly came to the first rock face that required climbing iron rungs. That initial reach was particularly strenuous, reinforcing the message that the Precipice is maintained as a non-technical climbing route, not a hiking trail.
It should have taken us an hour and fifteen minutes to get to the top. But each switchback and set of boulders seemed to be another photo opp. Then there were all of those relaxed visitors. The couple from Atlanta. The serious climber who hikes Sargent in the winter and knew exactly where the peregrines nest. The Mid-Coast couple who told us lobstermen were making four times the average Maine income before the recession hit. And the guy from Boston who got so involved recommending restaurants to the couple from Atlanta that his girlfriend took off without him.
Needless to say, to get to the top it took us, well, it took a while.
All of this camaraderie added to the exhilaration of the height, the iron ladders, and the ledges with no protective railings, including the one I crawled across because the rock was wet.
We came down North Face Trail (formerly known as Bear Brook Trail) which, after the stunning views we’d had of the Porcupine Islands from the top, continued to thrill us with its covering of fiery blueberry bushes. Our only complaint, which also applies to Kurt Diederich’s Climb which we did in August, is that the Jackson Laboratory buildings are a hideous blight on the landscape. We connected to East Face Trail (now called Orange and Black) to descend to the Park Loop Road and walk back to the car. Next time, we will consider hiking South Face Trail to Sand Beach, the longer route taken by our Mid-Coast compatriots.
I was so high (pardon me) from this climb that we decided to fit one more excursion into our day: Hunters Brook Trail. The path ran for 0.3 mile along a lovely brook, over wooden walkways, across a bridge, and through balsam firs that immediately transformed October into December. The trail itself would have sufficed, but the ultimate prize was Hunters Beach. This crescent of pink granite cobblestones offers iconic Maine coast views.
For the purposes of my photograph below, I’d like to say that we then went home for tea and cranberry bread, which was the “welcome” gift from a friend and neighbor. However, we didn’t have time. We drove directly from Hunters Beach to Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, the day before their season ended, and guess who was there – the couple from Atlanta.
For specific recommendations and contact information for guides, tours, restaurants, and inns, visit OUR ACADIA. You can find special tips for when to visit, what to do on a rainy day, and how to pack. It also features tips for fall trips and sample itineraries.