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

Henry David Thoreau

Beech Mountain – go early

Tuesday August 6, 2013
Acadia National Park



There is only one car in the parking lot at the end of Beech Hill Road when we arrive at 7:45 am.  She’s way over in that farthest spot.  This nearly empty log makes me pretty excited.  We may have the trail all to ourselves for a while. 


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You can see Beech Hill road coming down between Echo Lake and Long Pond.  It dead ends into the parking lot.

We’re headed up the North Face of Beech Mountain Trail to the fire tower I took photographs of from the Sea Princess yesterday.  The summit is the black dot beside “Beech Mtn” on the map.  This is the shorter steeper trail.  I like to get the hard work over first and have the gentler but longer down hill at the end of the hike.

We’ll  come down the easier South Ridge and pick up the Valley Trail taking it up to the Canada Cliffs and then over to the Beach Cliffs lollipop trail and finally back the short .2 mi spur to the parking lot.  We figure it’s a total of about 5 miles.


It’s pretty dark in the forest at this time of the morning.  Even though the sun has been up for a while, it hasn’t risen high enough to come strongly through the trees.


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We start climbing a variety of “stairs” almost immediately.   They become less step like the further we go.  It’s pretty clear how the first set of steps was created.


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But how did they do the rest of these?  Or are they natural?  Amazing trail work in any case.


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The first views open up and they are just beautiful.


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We’re on our way up again.  More steps and then we graduate to plain rock face.


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Our first glimpse of the tower comes into view.  That means we’re almost there.


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I guess this would qualify as the summit although there is no official sign for us to pose by. :-)

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Come on up the view is great! 

Although they only let you go to the first platform.  Higher up is blocked off.   Didn’t Ed Abbey live in one of these things for a season or a year in Arizona???


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After checking the views in every direction, we head down the South Ridge Trail. 


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Some of these steps are big ones.  Great if you are 5’ 10” not so much if you are 5’ 0”.


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We don’t get very far before the sound of the hermit thrush makes me grin from ear to ear.  I keep hiking toward the sound and looking to see if I can spot him.   And I do, high up in a conifer just singing his little heart out.  I catch him with the notes flowing out.  Now I don’t think he’d be singing for a mate in August so is he just singing because he can and it’s fun?  That’s my idea and I like it.


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We stay for a while and just listen.  He sings and sings and is still singing when we move on.

Further along the trail I come across what is surely the world’s smallest cairn.  It just strikes me as hilarious and I laugh out loud.  I’d love to meet the person who did this.  I know I’d like them.   If you see it in this first picture let me know. It is really really small.


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I’ll give you a hint, it’s on the farthest part of the roof of this “grotto”.




If you didn’t see it, does this help?
Notice that’s my little finger on my small hands.
This is a TINY cairn for fairies I’m sure!

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Don’t you just love it? 



At this point we think maybe we are down off the rock slab path.

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Well not quite yet.

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Then I hear someone running behind us.  Running?  Here?  Yup,  he comes thundering up, takes a look at us,  looks pretty confused and then looks in every direction as if he’s lost something.


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Well clearly he has, he’s lost his person who should have him, according to the park rules, on a leash.  He isn’t at all interested in us.  He’s on a mission and disappears back the way he came.  Guess he can’t count as our second wild life sighting of the morning.   But he sure was cute.


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The further down we go the mossier things become.  I love the cliffs and views but I love the mossy green forests with their tall tall trees just as well.  The wide open spaces and the dark cozy places.



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We’ve come up and over Beech Mountain and to the Valley trailhead.

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The Valley Trail is one of those beautiful dark filtered sunlight places that is so hard for me to photograph.  It is much lovelier than these pictures portray.


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It has little streams with stones for bridges.

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It’s dark and deep and green.



We come upon what looks like a Geological Survey marker.  But in the deep woods?   Closer inspection really surprises us.  We had no idea there was such a thing as a Forest Health Monitor, but we think it’s a fabulous idea and are really happy it is here.  More smiles!


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We’re calling this the land of the giants.  Valley Trail is turning out to a highlight of this hike.  I guess it’s those glaciers at work again.   The trail goes right through here.  You’ve got to love those trail planners.


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Too soon we have reached the turn off to the Canada Cliffs.  I’m tempted to go on and do the rest of the Valley Trail and turn around and come back to the Cliffs but by now it is nearly 11:00 and we have the Canada and Beech Cliffs yet to see.  But the Valley Trail is one I would very much like to do again.  I’d walk it from one end to the other and then turn around and walk it back again.   You could say I like it.


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Instead we turn left and head up to the Canada Cliffs.

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At first we are still in the Valley as the trail becomes roots and board walks.  I like it.

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Soon we are climbing again and as we do I begin to hear traffic noise and realize that we are now on the East side of the mountain and Route 102 is just beyond Echo Lake.


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The foot traffic has increased here as well.  We are patient and ambling type hikers so I am able to get most of my pictures after the others have gone on their way.   I’m not surprised at the increase in people as the morning has given way to afternoon.  But I am distracted by the constant traffic sounds in what I usually find to be a place of quiet away from such things.


We  look across the way and see the how far we have come.  There is the fire tower.   David zooms in with his camera and we see a number of people on the structure.  We saw no one on the mountain while we were there but our four legged friend.


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The views from the Canada Cliffs of Echo Lake are terrific.  Echo is the only lake that is not part of the MDI water supply and thus the only one in which you can swim and use gasoline engines.



People are definitely out at the beach today.  This is the warmest water for swimming other than pools on the island.







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Time to head to our last trail, Beech Cliffs.  The views are great here as well.  We can now see to the west all the way to Long Pond.


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The sounds of the traffic are incongruous with being so high up and these lovely views.


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On our way back down to the parking lot, after we are out of ear shot of the traffic, we stop and have our lunch.  Neither of us thinks to take a picture of the spot although it is very lovely.


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Back at the parking lot, things have changed quite a bit.  The lot is full to over flowering with folks parked along the entrance road as well.

If you want to enjoy the forest and the peaks in solitude, we strongly recommend starting out as early as you can to miss the many people and their automobiles especially in August.


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  1. Yes, the definitely sounds like a plan... the earlier the better. A good way to avoid the heat too. It certainly was lush and green. Yep, I found the cairn ever before enlarging the pic. Leaving a cairn is one of the fun things I like to so. The baby cairn certainly didn't impact the view!!

  2. An adorable little cairn I'm sure left by the little people who would just love the deep dense forest of green.

    Abbey lived in a cabin at the bottom of the North Rim fire tower. Also in Arches I think.

  3. Thanks for taking me along the Valley Trail...we never got that far on our hike;o)) It looks beautiful and we can walk both ways on our next trip!!

  4. Sorry to keep you up so late last night! I don't think the short route up Beech Mountain is doable for us, but I'd sure like to wander the valley Trail. Tell David the BBQ was great :-).

  5. Lovely hike ... I enjoy having some rock scrambles to add interest to trails. Looks like I'll have plenty of them when we get to Acadia again someday.

  6. That Valley Trail looked like something out of the sixth Star Wars movie. I was waiting to see if you got a picture of Luke Skywalker...

    How nice that thrush serenaded you, a lovely gift from Mother Nature just for you! :c)

  7. For some reason I didn't think they allowed dogs at all at Acadia. Sure hope he found his human. Another beautiful hike, albeit too crowded if you don't get there early. When Rich and I used to go to Arches, we'd go before sun up--no one even at the entrance--and by 9 a.m. when we were returning there was traffic going into the park. The early bird gets the worm, that's for sure! Great pictures, as always. Only you would spot a "fairy cairn". :)

  8. A little early for me, but it looks like a great hike.

  9. Really like the picture of Echo Lake. Amazing these lakes still exist high atop those rocky tops. Nice hike!

  10. hahaaa a fairy cairn ~ well certainly that gorgeous area looks like a fairy home ... love the healthy forest monitoring thing.. how cool is that.

  11. Thanks so much for doing this hike, you have shown us what we missed when we were there in 2011. We had wanted to do this trail but unfortunately ran out of time. The trails in Acadia National Park are amazing, we loved all the "rock climbing" and the beautiful moss. You did a great job in describing the trail through your words and your pictures. So glad you had such a good hike.


  12. Great hike, Sherry, although like you, I would have been taken aback at the traffic sounds. And, back to the dogs in Acadia comment...can we have Abby on a leash in Acadia NP on the trails? On any of the trails??

  13. I am still adjusting to getting to the trail head early. Getting up before 6 AM is usually very hard for me to do, but it does have its rewards. The quiet of those early hours is a blessing we both appreciate.

  14. Add my smile to the fairie cairn! Sometimes even little people lose their bearings!

  15. Great hike beautiful pics. I hope the dog found its owner. I wish people would realize that when they don't keep control of their dog it gives credence to the "no dogs allowed" rules on so many trails. They should also realize that someone else might like the dog and just take it home. - my rant for the day. Lovely post though.

  16. A day of pretty views :) Looks like gorgeous weather for it. The trails are impressive - I've also wondered how those rock 'stairs' get there - impressive if just natural!! Hope the dog found his owner :)

  17. Another lovely hike made even nicer by your solitude. Sure hope the dog found his owner.


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