This loop hike is the perfect way to see two of the park's gems while experiencing a handful of the best trails in the area. The route starts up the Beehive Trail
, which is one of the park's iron rung routes that utilizes iron rungs and ladder steps to climb up a granite cliff and boulder field.
This trail should not be attempted if you have any discomfort with heights or physical incapacity.
To access this featured hike, park in the large Beehive Trailhead Parking Area off Park Loop Road, behind Sand Beach
. Locate the trailhead for the Bowl Trail
northwest of the Beehive Trailhead Parking Area just off the Park Loop Road. During the summer months, this lot can get crowded, but while most people head down to Sand Beach
below, you can hike up to The Bowl and cool your heels there. That’s not to say that the path will be traffic free, but it usually isn’t nearly as congested as the beach.
This path climbs gradually at the beginning. At 0.2 miles, you’ll come across the Beehive Trailhead. Turn right onto the Beehive Trail
. As an alternative to the iron-rung route of the Beehive Trail
, hikers can continue up the Bowl Trail
as it joins with the Gorham Mountain Trail
, which this hike uses to reach its southern terminus.
Continue up the Beehive Trail
as it switchbacks up the granite walls using iron rungs, footholds, ladders, and staircases. This exhilarating climb stretches for around two-tenths of a mile, gaining over 300 feet of elevation. At the top, reap the reward of your physical feat by enjoying the surrounding views.
Follow the trail north along the rocks toward The Bowl. There is a bypass Beehive Alternate Trail
that cuts across to just above the Gorham Mountain Trail
. This cuts off around four-tenths of a mile and a gradual descent to the shores of The Bowl.
From the Beehive Alternate Trail
, continue north towards The Bowl. This makes for a wonderful spot to have lunch and take a dip to cool off or at least soak your feet. Continue west until the junction with the Champlain South Ridge Trail
and Gorham Mountain Trail
. Turn left and head south on the Gorham Mountain Trail
This trail heads across the saddle toward the summit of Gorham Mountain, another breathtaking point with views abound. Follow the trail along the thin trees and granite boulders toward the Cadillac Cliffs.
Just past the Cadillac Cliffs, the Cadillac Cliffs Path
branches off to the left for an alternative, parallel path which stretches for three-tenths of a mile until it re-joins the Gorham Mountain Trail
. Continue the descent for another few hundred yards until arriving at the Gorham Mountain Trailhead Parking Area. You can breathe easy now, as all the climbing and descending is complete.
From the parking area, carefully cross the Park Loop Road, joining with the Ocean Path
. This path makes for a beautiful cool-down with numerous viewpoints and photo opportunities. After around three-tenths of a mile, look to the right for the staircase down to the Thunder Hole
. Bring a camera, as this can be a beautiful vantage point of the granite cliffs and ocean beyond. If there is any swell, this rock feature can be quite the sensation with a deep, rumbling sound and spray erupting into the air.
Finish the last three-quarter-mile stretch of the Ocean Path
toward Sand Beach
and the Beehive Trailhead Parking Area where you parked your vehicle.