The Beehive is one of Acadia National Park’s most popular hikes. Something about the partially bare granite dome rising above Sand Beach draws people like a magnet. In the summer, you quite often spend as much time standing on a ledge waiting for the group in front of you to climb the next set of rungs as you do hiking. At least you have a great view standing there.
I first climbed The Beehive with my younger brother (who was visiting from California) during the winter. That was interesting. The trail was almost impossible to follow. We ended up just climbing straight up most of the way. Even if the route isn’t obscured by snow, ice is often a problem in the Winter. I guess that makes the ideal times spring before the tourists arrive and fall after they’ve left.
The hike starts across the Park Loop Road from the Sand Beach parking lot (and slightly north). You climb gently to the base of The Beehive. You reach a junction with a view of hikers on various ledges above you. The climb is a lot of slabbing around the mountain on ledges between three and six feet wide, then climbing a ladder or set of rungs to the next ledge. In this way, you switchback up the face of the mountain. It’s much less exposed than The Precipice Trail, but still makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
From the top of the climb, you have great views of the coast and the mountains around you. The trail drops down to The Bowl, a round pond that’s a popular swimming hole. From there you can make a loop back to the trailhead , follow the ridge south to Gorham Mountain and its Cadillac Cliffs, or follow the ridge north to Penobscot Mountain.
If you just do the loop, it’s a mile hike with almost 600 feet of climbing.