|Beech Mountain rising over Long Pond|
There are no bathrooms or running water here. There are trails to the left side of the pump house, but this hike starts to the right of it. The West Ridge Trail exits the parking area near the shore, while the Valley Trail exits off the back of the parking area away from the shore. Take the Valley Trail.
It starts out climbing up away from Long Pond, but takes a left and levels out. It continues level for a while and crosses a road. Eventually you will come to a series of switchbacks as the Valley Trail gains elevation. You will come to a signpost indicating that the South Ridge Trail up
heads to the left. Take this trail. Beech Mountain
|Looking up at where the next switchback will lead|
The switchbacks continue. The repeating pattern of a bunch of stone steps leading quickly upward, followed by a flat stretch as you make your way back across the face, was a little different. Rather than have a continuous rise it was almost like doing short wind sprints, followed by walking, followed by more wind sprints. The trail was well built and maintained, though, and some of these switchbacks give you views of Long Pond.
|A peek at Long Pond from a switchback. Mansell and Bernard Mountains are in the background.|
Eventually these switchbacks open out onto more regular ledge hiking. You can see the fire tower from the trail and it lets you know that you’ve still got a ways to go.
|The fire tower at the summit as seen from the South Ridge Trail|
You are hiking through trees pretty much all the way to the top, but there are places where there are openings for views. There are also some informal trails branching off that take you to views. It does not combine with any other official trails on the way up, though, and it comes out right at the fire tower.
As you climb up onto an open summit, you will see an unmanned fire tower. It is the only one in the entire
From the summit you can see all the way to the ocean and Cranberry islands to the south. From the fire tower you have greater than 180 degree views of the surrounding countryside.
|The Cranberry Islands off Southwest Harbor|
When you are ready to continue, head off the summit 90 degrees to the left of where you came from. You will see a signpost just off the summit. Continue down the trail to the left. You will shortly come to a trail branching off to the left. This is the West Ridge Trail. Take it.
You get views of Long Pond from the top of this trail. You can make your way down onto ledges to get wider vistas, but you need to return to the trail when done.
|The south end of Long Pond with Mansell Mtn in the background. The Long Pond Trail runs along the shore.|
|Looking towards the north end of Long Pond. The Long Pond Trail runs almost to the big peninsula.|
[You can find a post for hiking the Long Pond Trail here.]
This trail drops steadily and somewhat steeply down off
toward Long Pond. There were a lot of loose rocks on this trail so we had to really watch where we put our feet. It didn’t take us too much time to lose all the elevation and come out right on the Beech Mountain . shore of Long Pond
The trail is now level the rest of the way back. We passed two houses that looked like private residences. There was one log walk that had broken and had a loose log, but that will probably be fixed this summer. We continued to follow this trail around the shore and came out back where we had parked.
The best guide to hiking in
Acadia, A Walk in the Park, describes going up West Ridge Trail and coming down South Ridge and Valley Trails. It seems to be six of one and a half dozen of the other. One way gives you a series of quick climbs, followed by flats, while the other way has a flat section followed by a somewhat steep, continuous rise. Either way you cover the same distance and elevation changes, so take your pick.
Cumulative distance: 3.1 miles
Cumulative elevation gain: 845 feet
Cumulative duration: 2.5 hours (including time for photos and summit activities)
Acadia Hiking Guide
Acadia Hiking Guide