Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Beech Mountain and the Cliffs

Friday July 22, 2017                                                                    Most Recent Posts:
Acadia National Park                                                           Champlain Mountain and the Bowl
Mount Desert Island, Maine                                                On the Rocks More than the Path




Today we’re out early again to hike to the Beech Mountain Summit and then over to both the Beech Cliffs and the Canada Cliffs.  It’s a beautiful day so we should have great views.  Actually Beech Mountain is one of the only summits on the Western Side of MDI that has views.

We start at the parking area, the black dot, and hike the Beech Mountain Loop Trail, in yellow, which brings us back to the parking lot.  It’s an up to the summit, the black triangle,  and back down to the lot.  Since it’s a loop, you can take it either way.

We then cross the parking lot and head up the Beech Cliffs trail, in blue, which is also a loop but you don’t have to come all the way back down to pick up the Canada Cliffs trail in Green.  To end the hike, we then catch the Valley Trail coming in from the south, in red, and take it back to the parking lot.   Hope that’s clear, there will be a quiz at the end.


As the map shows both the Beech Mountain and the Beech Cliffs trails are actually lollipop trails.  Beech Mountain has a very short “stick” and we don’t hike long before we get to the decision point.   Left or right??

David concludes that the right trail is shorter and therefore probably steeper so he’ll take the low road to the left.  We’re good with delayed gratification in this case.




The trail turns rocky and since we have to watch our feet carefully, we find some interesting mushrooms along its sides.



They are more than interesting, they are beautiful.







Nice views of Long Pond to the west on the way up.  Long Pond is the largest lake on MDI.  It’s amazing in how many of these views we can see all the way to the sea and the islands there.  Look carefully on the far left at the horizon line.





Glad we have our hiking poles for the rocky climb.




Along the way we find Blueberries and we’re prepared for pickin’






Coming around the South ridge it’s into the woods.




When we reach the steps, we know we’ve nearly arrived.



The fire tower on Beech Mountain is a land mark. Originally it was a wooden tower constructed by the men who lived at the Civilian Conservation Corps camps on Mount Desert Island. The historic fire tower was in use between 1941 and the mid 1950s. Because of deterioration, the original tower was replaced by a steel tower in 1962. Since then, the tower was only manned by a Park Ranger sporadically during the day until 1976, when it was no longer used at all. The tower is now on the National Registry of Historic Fire Towers. 




Great views from the fire tower rock.





Even better views from here although I can’t go all the way up as the trap door at the top of the stairs in the left of the picture is locked.


Looks a lot like the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.




Looking down.







One last look around before we head down.







Back at the bottom we head up the Beech Cliffs Trail where there are, of course, more interesting and unusual things along the way.



Whoa!  What is that?






We now have some good looks to the East at Echo Lake.  It is probably the second most popular swimming spot on MDI after Sand Beach.  Notice Greening Island in the far upper right way beyond Echo Lake in the middle..  From this view we can only see part of it with the beach on the South end.




A closer view of the beach shows it’s windy on the water and people have already started staking out their place in the sand at 9:25am.




Both Beech and Canada Cliff trails are covered with blueberries.   That’s David way down there.



You can pretty much lose yourself in them for hours if you have enough bags and your back will hold out.  These are seriously LOW growing blueberries.   Can you see me out there?



I come up for a break.




We each have a bag like this and fill them both by the end of the morning.  This of course extends our hike past 10:00 which means others will be up here, will see what we are doing and imitate us. 





I doubt there is a more beautiful blueberry picking spot anywhere.




It’s tricky to get off the path.  You have to watch where you step, if you are to be considerate of the plants.  Luckily there are often rocks and bald spots that will allow some inner patch picking.





All along the cliffs we have varying views of Echo Lake.  At 237 acres it is a good sized lake with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Camp along one shore not too far from the swimming beach and a nice boat ramp further along.   The far end of the lake which we really can’t see from here does have private homes along it as one end is within the park and the other is not.




From here I just barely caught another section of Echo Lake in the far right of the picture.  But a better view is the next shot.  These island lakes and ponds are all just gorgeous.




I did an earlier post on our paddle on Echo Lake.  You can find it here.




After this section of the cliffs it will be time to head back down.





As we come around to go down, in the distance, we can see the Fire Tower where we have just been.  Can you?  Notice it isn’t on the absolute top.




How about now?




Because I can, I zoom in even further.  What I see surprises me.  That door to the top walk around is locked with a pad lock.  I saw it myself when I tried to go on up.  How did those people get up there?   They don’t appear to have rock climbing equipment.




On the way down we happen upon this little common garter snake.  There are no poisonous snakes on MDI.







Hmmm, this is a mighty long step.  I have to sit down in order to get down.





Some road sign.  We’re headed for the Valley Trail (red on the map) at this point.




But we still have some distance to go on the Canada Cliffs trail now that we are off the cliffs.   There is quite a variety of trail surface on this section leading to the Valley Trail.





It includes some marshy areas.




But as we are expecting from what we saw at the beginning, the valley trail is nice and wide and flat.  An easy end to a lovely hike.




It’s just before noon and we didn’t stop on the trail for lunch so we cut back a little out of our way to come to the Pretty Marsh Picnic Area with this lovely shelter over looking Pretty Marsh Harbor.  One of the real benefits to having been in a place before is knowing much of what’s there and how to get to it.



Sweet a lunch spot with a set of stairs going down to the shore. 




There is a but to my statement about remembering a place……it’s been 4 years since we’ve spent a summer in Maine and if I had remembered this nice large rock, I would have brought my lunch down here.   But we didn’t explore the shore until after we’d eaten. 



Look at the clarity of that water.



This spot is not heavily populated except, I suspect on week-ends.   I’m glad to find an easy place to get my feet in the water.





While I’m in the water, David takes over my spot on the rock.   You can see the stairs leading down from the shelter.




There are picnic tables up in the parking area as well and it is a fairly long walk down to the shelter on the shore.  On our climb back up we find some more of those “interesting things”.    I thought this “shelf” mushroom was pretty amazing in size and design until I saw the end of a log a bit further on.





Have you ever seen any log end decorated more amazingly than this.   From a distance I thought it had been painted.  Wrong!





This planet Earth and all its creatures are just simply amazing




Last on the agenda today is a rare haircut.  Thanks Nancy for snapping this picture of the “stylist” at work.



  1. Amazing the wonders you can find in nature and the variety in Acadia National Park - a nature lover's dream park. Great trails and paddle opportunities not to mention biking on the carriage roads. Blueberries & seafood are like icing on the cake. No wonder this place is so popular.

  2. We spent a short time in Acadia many years ago but clearly we need to return. Good to know about the poisonous snakes. Out west we like hiking at high elevations since there are none there, either.

  3. What a gorgeous hike once again. Yes our planet has some beautiful places and things to see.

  4. Loved all the funky fungus pictures :-) I wish there was a way your great post, pictures and story could also have a "scratch and sniff" place. Instead I'm left imagining that amazing smell of the pine combined with the New England seashore with a hint of blueberry on the side.

  5. What a wonderful hike! I had never heard of MDI before but now that you have enlightened me, next time we come through this area we will have to try and remember to make a stop here.

    I love the mushrooms shots, especially the fungus at the end of the log, beautiful!


  6. We just love to pick blueberries in such lovely places!!! Nothing better than picking and enjoying the wonderful views:o))

  7. Oh those blueberries! Yum, yum, yum!! I'll take them along with those water/mountain views any day. Summers in Maine. Lovely! Great pictures again. Such neat mushroom finds in the lush woods.

  8. David looks great, especially with a new haircut! Lovely views, but how DID those people get up on the fire tower? Wow, what a thing of beauty on the end of the log.

  9. Definitely some great views. I often wonder how those wild mushrooms look so perfect when there must be lots of opportunities for them to be damaged by weather and animals.

  10. I was in Acadia NP for a few days about 25 years ago, and have wanted to return ever since. But your posts are inspiring me to want to spend an entire summer there, and soon! Every trail you hike is beautiful, from the fungi to the incredible views. And so many blueberries to pick along the trails! It looks heavenly.

  11. I did not know Maine has such beauty, must check it out on next trip up that way. Nice explanation of the hike.

  12. Are these white mashrooms the kind of fly agarics?
    we've never seen such a mushroom

  13. Looks like that hike took you to new heights (fire tower).

    Curious if any of those blueberries survived the hike back to your motorhome or they somehow disappeared before you got there. I know I'd have had a hard time resisting the temptation to snack on them. :c)

  14. I paid attention, took notes, studied....no quiz? But I'm so prepared!!

    Love getting to see so much of Acadia - it is gorgeous at every turn. That second mushroom looks like a ceramic table. I'm sure the fairies must have their late tea their on holidays :-) Lovely garter snake, so delicate. The little rocky beach is so peaceful.

    Did you want to yell "How'd you get up there?" ?? I did!

  15. You really have my mind in a whirl. I am feeling a call to return to Maine, but that darn humidity and those gnats and mosquitoes quickly join my thoughts, too. How have the bugs been? I assume not bad since you don't mention them.

    These look like three great hikes! I love a variety in a trail...adds to the adventure:) I am surprised that fire tower isn't on the top. Interesting! Love the mushrooms and the strange fungi on the tree. You never mentioned what you did with the blueberries, or maybe they didn't make it home! After all the berry man was with you:) Seeing the water below always makes the hike a little sweeter. Another perfect day in beautiful Acadia!

  16. How can you loose with great views and blueberries too. Fire towers always offer the best views. Wonder if they let you rent that one for overnighters? Or those visitors had a screwdriver to remove the hasp. Nature does provide the most amazing patterns.

  17. Beautiful countryside for hiking in!

    The steel fire tower reminds me of one in Ontario's cottage country that serves as a lookout for tourists these days.

  18. We've arrived at Narrows Too. Where are you guys parked? Hoping maybe to say "hi" in person.

  19. Sorry we missed you! Wishing you good travels south!


  20. This will sound like I'm being pert but it's a serious question: any idea where David will be picking blueberries summer of 2018? I'd love to join him, and you if our paths may cross. I could spend all day meandering and picking, but more end up in my belly than the bag.


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