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Acadia National Park, Maine, United States

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park

Learn more about Acadia National Park at www.NaturePods.com

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 (6 votes, 2 reviews)
Length: 0.6 miles / 1.0 km
 
Overview: The Precipice Trail is a great way to experience Acadia National Park. Its a strenuous climb, but the views along the way and from the summit of Champlain Mountain are well worth the climb. Join ranger and naturalist Bob Thayer of NaturePods on this audio guide for Acadia National Park. Explore the geology, scenery, and the revival of Peregrine Falcons along the way.

Points of Interest

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Introduction

The Precipice is one of the most popular trails in the park – and one of the most challenging. Rungs and ladders and narrow ledges make this climb not for the faint of heart. If you do decide to take the hike give yourself plenty of time, bring water and sunscreen and wear sturdy foot gear. Stay on the trail. Most accidents occur because hikers wander off the trail or are unprepared. Because the trail is so steep it is recommended that you take one of the less steep trails down. From the summit of Champlain Mountain the views are worth the effort.

The trail may be closed spring through mid summer because this is perfect nesting habitat for peregrine falcons. If the trail is closed there is usually a ranger at the trailhead with a spotting scope. They are looking for peregrines and their nest site. The ranger will be able to answer your questions and possibly show you a peregrine falcon.
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Introduction
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Geology

This sheer cliff face is typical of Acadia’s mountains. 18,000 years ago when glaciers swept over the island like giant bulldozers, they smoothed the northern slopes of its mountains. The southern slopes underwent a very different process. Ice melt refroze in the cracked granite and as the glacier moved on it pulled great chunks of stone from the mountainside, leaving sheer cliffs facing in the direction of the ice flow.
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Geology
Animals/Wildlife
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Peregrine Falcons

The peregrine falcon is about the size of a crow and can be identified by its pointed wings and narrow tail and if you can see its face it appears to have on a black hood. In flight it has short wing beat similar to that of a pigeon. It preys on other birds and can capture them in flight as it reachs speeds of over 100 mph.

The peregrine’s population began declining in the 1950s due to the presence of DDT in the food chain. The last peregrines were recorded here in 1956. Then in 1984 chicks were raised in the park as part of an endangered species reintroduction program. The hope was that they would imprint on the location and come back to nest when their time came. In 1991 a pair of peregrines did return and had a successful nesting. Nearly every year since, falcons have returned to Acadia and have found a favorable nesting site in these cliffs and others in the park.
Audio
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Peregrine Falcons
Viewpoint
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Porcupine Islands

The body of water on your left for the first half of the loop road is Frenchman’s Bay. Its name is a testament to the strong French heritage of the area. It is a deep-water bay and in the fall you may see large cruise ships that make regular stops in Bar Harbor.

The islands sprinkled in the Bay are the Porcupine Islands. With their domed backs covered with quill-like spruce trees they certainly look like porcupines. The island closest to the shore, just off the coast of Bar Harbor, is Bar Island from which the town gets its name. At low tide a sand bar is exposed and you can walk to the island, which is part of Acadia National Park.

The town of Bar Harbor has a year- round population of about 5000 people but in the summer the population swells as seasonal residents, shop owners and tourists come to appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of this coastal fishing village.
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Porcupine Islands
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Schooner Head

From this point you are looking about five miles across Frenchman’s Bay to Schoodic Peninsula. Schoodic is also part of Acadia National Park and is about an hour’s ride from Bar Harbor. If you have the time its rocky headland and boulder beaches are worth exploring.

Between this shore and Schoodic Peninsula is Egg Rock Lighthouse. Built in 1875 the light guides ships into the busy waters of Frenchman’s Bay. The light was automated in 1977 and other than the occasional Coast Guard maintenance crew the only residents are the gulls, terns and harbor seals that breed on the island.

The rocky outcrop to the South, is called Schooner Head. The large building is a private residence. Acadia National Park grew through the donations of generous donors, but there are many areas within the park that are still in private hands. Schooner Head is one of them.

Look for other Naturepod tours to aid in your enjoyment of the park.
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Schooner Head Overlook
Pictures in this guide taken by: reags
Reviews
rednisson350z
My girlfriend and I have hiked this trail a few times. The first time was fairly nerve racking given the distance the rungs were off the rock wall and a couple short straight up sections, but it was well worth the thrill. When we went for a second and third time it got pretty easy and relaxing. Like Jephy said, hike when dry. We hiked one time and it was wet and drizzling and the rungs got slippery along with the cliff itself. I probably would not hike down the trail when its wet but up is still manageable. At the top you get a nice view of the ocean and Sand beach, and behind you get to see the rest of the rolling hills. The Beehive trail is a nice warm up hike that is similar to Precipice with less intimidating rungs, so if you can do that then no problem. Definitely try it if you go, they close it down for the falcons at certain times of the year, and its probably the most hands on fun hiking trail there in my opinion unless your bouldering. Also like Jephy said don't bring stuff with you because its a pain to climb with one hand holding a water bottle or camera. Have a great climb!
Visited on Oct 09, 2010

by rednisson350z on Mar 27, 2012
Jephy
Signs at the start (bottom) of the Precipice will warn that the trail is not, in fact, a hike, but a "non-technical climbing route". That is, formal mountaineering gear in the form of lines and stakes with which to hoist or rappel oneself is not necessary. Be advised the route is tricky because of its steepness, LIMITED grab points and narrow ledges. Don't try going down this hike unless you are really quite adept at climbing. Don't try it at all if you're a hiking novice. As another suggestion don't bring a walking stick or backpack--they'll throw-off your balance and/or get in the way: you need good use of all four limbs and maximum flexibility on this trail! I remember one point where a ladder/rungs went straight up ten steps or so and terminated right at a narrow ledge. The rungs did not continue beyond the level of the ledge......so you must pull yourself up to the 2-foot-wide (only!) ledge off of the ladder without the aid of additional rungs above the level of the ledge--a walking stick is out of the question! For the same reasons you must hike this hike under dry conditions. Check out the youtube vids on this one, be prepared, enjoy!
Visited on Oct 07, 2010

by Jephy on Aug 19, 2011

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park Trail Map


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