ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE
Mt. Desert Island might be best known for its coastline, but the Precipice Trail gives visitors reason to turn their gaze toward the sky, as it climbs the east face of 1,058-foot Champlain Mountain in dramatic fashion. Using a series of fixed ladders and aids, the nontechnical trail ascends the peak from sea level to summit block in about a mile.
Do it on the first leg of a 3.2-mile loop. The fun starts almost immediately with “The Intimidator,” a boulder that demands a couple of awkward, hand-over-hand moves, then gets even better. Make your way through a scree field to the base of the peak near mile .4, then begin climbing in earnest, scrambling along the base of a cliff to the first iron ladders. Go up, up, and away to reach the 2-foot-wide ledge that leads to the summit block. Railings and iron rungs placate your nerves at the sketchiest sections, but the drop-off to the Atlantic still brings to mind The Princess Bride’s “Cliffs of Insanity.” Take in the view of Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands to the north before looping around on the Orange and Black Path.
Trailhead Precipice (44.3495, -68.1879) Season August to November (it’s typically closed spring through midsummer for nesting peregrines) Permit None Contact nps.gov/acad
Iron rungs give hikers a leg up Champlain Mountain; Frenchman Bay anchors the view.