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 Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/27/16 
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 Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/27/16
For the last 20 years I've had a couple trails in Acadia on my bucket list. My friends have done one or both of them and told me how awesome they are, but between the peregrine falcons and weather the timing never worked out for me, as both trails are seasonally closed for the nicer half of the year to protect the nesting birds. I made it halfway up once this trail in the cold November rain a couple years ago but was turned back by some slick wet ledges. Well, finally things aligned Thursday and thegibba and I headed back up to Acadia for some redlining and bucket listing, starting with the Precipice Trail. Described not as a hiking trail, but as a non-technical climbing route on the east face of Champlain Mountain, it gains about 1000 feet using fixed iron rungs, rails and ladders to cleverly work it's way along the cliff bands, or, when no bands are available by just going straight up. A really unique way up a mountain for sure and one I just had to do, even if 20 years of overthinking it had me feeling just a little apprehensive. In such cases I find it best to stop thinking about it too much and just do it, so that's what we did.

Another glorious sunrise over the Maine turnpike :roll:
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Not nearly as time efficient as my trip a few days before but a whole lot more cost effective in a Prius 8)
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Parking at Compass Harbor we wandered the trails around the former estate of Acadia's founding father George B. Dorr first. Then it was a mile or so of warm up walking on the Schooner Head Path, which both of us needed bits and pieces of for redlining. After a couple miles of flat-landing we got a glimpse of Champlain Mountain across a wet meadow. We could see people climbing up the cliffs of the Precipice Trail and watched them go for a few minutes while we warmed up in the morning sun. Then it was off to the trailhead and an abrupt end to the whole flat thing.

Grabbing Compass Harbor Trails for thegibba
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Still some green leaves around
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View from Dorr Point
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Cruise ship in town for the day
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Sol's Cliff. You can rent the mansion here for $8,800 a week in the summer. So maybe get it for two weeks just to be safe
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The Granite Staircase from the former Dorr "cottage"
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The remains of the cottage
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Former front door of the Dorr's
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Schooner Head Path is a couple miles of this
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First view of Mt. Champlain, home to the Precipice
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Multi-color cliffs
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Watching as others make the climb. Note the specks in the center
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Close up of the cliffs you climb up. Find the person in the white shirt yet??
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They appear to be crawling across some of the upper bands here
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Arriving to take a turn on this one
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The trail starts out working its way up the boulder field at the base of the cliffs. Minor scrambling and a few carefully placed sets of iron to "test" you out and see if you can manage what's coming. Some of the ironwork higher up is said to be tough to reach if you are on the shorter side, so the park service placed some bars awkwardly down low for you to test yourself out on. We passed, and moved on. Next up was the climb up a large rockfall, usually scrambling from rock to rock but a couple times you go under larger ones blocking the way. Similar to the Subway in King Ravine only a lot less of it. Then you hit the cliffs and the fun begins!

You have been warned
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And warned again
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Peter climbing up the proving ground
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Test #2
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Now, go have some fun!
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Don't forget to stop and smell the roses
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Back to the fun
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You work your way up the cliff bands. Sometimes you walk along the top of them with (slightly flexible) iron railings to help you balance or stop you if you tripped. Other times there are bridges built to cross gaps in the cliffs. Still other places have iron handrails drilled into the rock. Finally there are the ladders, both actual iron ladders fixed to the rock face and large iron rungs about 2 feet wide set in the rock when the "ladder" needs to climb but not necessarily in a straight line. Its kind of amazing that this was ever constructed in the first place, and in an age of lawsuits that it is still open to the public today. I said before I was apprehensive about the whole thing, and there were a few spots that gave me pause, but overall if you have some upper body strength and no vertigo inducing fear of heights I'd have to say this trail is just a heck of a lot of fun and not nearly as death defying as I had built it up in my mind to be. That is not to say there aren't spots where one slip or trip doesn't mean certain death, because there are a handful of them for sure, but pay attention, hang on tight and this is one heck of a thrill ride!

After the junction with the Orange & Black early exit route the real fun begins
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The parking lot below and Peter about halfway up the first rung ladders
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The tops of the cliff bands are all a pretty consistent couple of feet wide
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Natural or man-made handholds were at about 95% of the spots you'd like them
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Footholds too when deemed necessary
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More jungle gym
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A third section of vertical rungs
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One of the few spots an extra bar would have been nice
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Fourth and final grouping of rungs and rods
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Saving the best for last
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If you don't feel alive at this point you better check your pulse
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After topping out on the climbing part we soaked in the sunshine and views to the east from the large ledges before finishing the trail to the summit of Mt. Champlain. Having been there more than a couple times we didn't stay long, and started to head down the North Ridge Trail before Peter mentioned he hadn't hiked the section of trail between Champlain and Huguenot Head. Well, why not?! In Acadia you can usually change plans on the fly and find your way wherever you want using various routes of about the same distance. Since Beechcroft is always one of the most enjoyable trails in the park down we went, deciding to finish the loop with a short road walk rather than revisiting 1.5 miles of the Schooner Head Path. We passed a guy who informed us we were not on the North Ridge Trail, which we already knew but apparently he didn't find out until he hit the bottom, then for some reason decided to hike all the way back up and then down rather than also do a road walk to his car. We said thanks and told him our planned route and parted ways, wondering if it ever clicked to him that he could have done an easy 2 mile walk rather than a 2.5 mile re-hike of the mountain to get back to his car. We stopped by Huguenot Head just because it was there, and who knows, maybe someday the Acadia Grid will take shape! :lol: From there it was down and back to the car, officially crossing off this trail from the bucket list, and onward to the next one.

Climbing up the last crags to some nice open ledges
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Onward to the summit
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I'm thinking this is here to test anyone thinking of going down. Pretty sure the trail could have avoided it if they wanted to
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One at each end of the Precipice Trail
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VFTT
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Schoodic Peninsula
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Bar Harbor
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Headed down Beechcroft Trail for Huguenot Head
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VFTHead
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Hikers making their way up Champlain of Beechcroft
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Headed down Beechcroft Trail
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Passing the Cube
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A short road walk and that's that
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1058 feet high doesn't rank this one near the top of the tallest mountains list, but for biggest thrills you can have hiking in the east it's easily in my top handful of trails. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be on the fear factor side of things and turned out to be way more fun than I thought it would also. Like a 1000 foot high jungle gym for adults really, and although it took me 20 years to finally climb this one I'm sure it won't take me another 20 to return. For one I was so busy wondering what was next and taking it all in I didn't do as much with the camera as a normally would. and more importantly this trail was just plain old F-U-N as well as the most spectacular and unique trail in the park. Add in the adrenaline rush and feeling of being alive you get when you climb up the last rungs and can relax and look around and this was instantly one of my all time favorite hikes.


Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:54 pm
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Peak Bagger
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Great report. I love the Precipice Trail too. I've only hiked it twice - once 24 years ago when I was dumb enough to go back down the same way, and once when I was older and wiser and went down Beachcroft. I've wanted to climb it a couple of other times when it was closed because of the falcons. And I've often had that same thought - that it's surprising they would ever build such a trail and that they still let people climb it.

I can't believe the amount of driving you guys do sometimes for a day hike. I wish I had the energy for that.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:34 am
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Granite Guy wrote:
For one I was so busy wondering what was next and taking it all in I didn't do as much with the camera as a normally would.


Are you sure it wasn't because you didn't want to let go of any of the various hand-holds you may have been hanging on to? Just asking. :P

Congrats on finally doing it. Can't really tell, (from the few pics you took 8) ), if it's something I could do. But I don't remember ever seeing the exposure sign on the Beehive Tr. so I assume they consider this much worse.

Lastly, enough already. :evil: You're making me want to head up there and I really don't want to in stick season. :(

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Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:01 am
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
JustJoe wrote:

Lastly, enough already. :evil: You're making me want to head up there and I really don't want to in stick season. :(


Then you better hurry up. There may be a touch of color still. There were some trees that haven't turned yet.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:22 am
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
hophiker wrote:
I can't believe the amount of driving you guys do sometimes for a day hike. I wish I had the energy for that.


I'm sure there will come a day when this seems like too much, but for now it's use it or lose it. :D But, I love to drive and to hike even more. It's a convenient combination. That, and the Whites were in the clouds Thursday. So, 2.5 hours to hike in soup or 4 hours for this. Easy choice for me.

JustJoe wrote:
Granite Guy wrote:
For one I was so busy wondering what was next and taking it all in I didn't do as much with the camera as a normally would.


Are you sure it wasn't because you didn't want to let go of any of the various hand-holds you may have been hanging on to? Just asking. :P


Actually I'm sure that was part of it. More than one of the pictures I took with my arm looped right through the iron rungs. Safety first! 8) The other part is my 15-85 lens is so big and clunky I just used the smaller, lighter 10-18. Now that I know where to pick and chose my spots I'll do more with the other one which has much better image quality I think.

JustJoe wrote:
Congrats on finally doing it. Can't really tell, (from the few pics you took 8) ), if it's something I could do. But I don't remember ever seeing the exposure sign on the Beehive Tr. so I assume they consider this much worse.

Lastly, enough already. :evil: You're making me want to head up there and I really don't want to in stick season. :(


I'm 100% sure if you can do/enjoy the beehive without being gripped by fear and feeling like you're not going to make it there then you can do this fairly easily too. Everything is a degree higher on the exposure part but it's very similar. I mean, if you fall 50 feet on the beehive or 200 feet here what's the difference right?! :lol: The sets of rungs are 4X longer, the drops 5X higher, but it's really well laid out with a handhold almost everywhere you'd want one. On a nice dry day it's a lot of fun.

And one more report to come. Then that may be it for a while, or until Sunday. My wife and kids have a birthday party to go to and I'm wondering what to do with myself and that extra hour of sleep I'll be getting... 8)


Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:29 am
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Granite Guy wrote:
hophiker wrote:

I'm 100% sure if you can do/enjoy the beehive without being gripped by fear and feeling like you're not going to make it there then you can do this fairly easily too. Everything is a degree higher on the exposure part but it's very similar. I mean, if you fall 50 feet on the beehive or 200 feet here what's the difference right?! :lol: The sets of rungs are 4X longer, the drops 5X higher, but it's really well laid out with a handhold almost everywhere you'd want one. On a nice dry day it's a lot of fun.


Sure there are a few spots on the Beehive that a fall probably would be fatal. And I'm sure there are way more spots exist on this trail. But it's not that, it's the height thing. No where on the Beehive is the height uncomfortable for me. I can easily see from pictures, that won't be the case on the Precipice. The, "just don't look down" doesn't cut it. 8)

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Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:14 am
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Nice one guys. This is on my to-do list. I like the "jungle gym for adults" descriptor, sounds like an awesome trail (as long as it's done on a dry day).


Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:32 am
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Joe, I can't lie and say those edge of the world spots don't exist, but they are few (half a dozen maybe) and short. Think of walkling around the perimeter of the Bondcliff cliff or Table Rock in Dixville Notch, but with a sturdy waist high handrail in the middle to hang onto the whole way. About that long and with the same type of drop. Otherwise even the narrow shelfs of rock usually have another narrow shelf 10-20 feet below them. Since you've done the Beech Cliff ladders I don't think the rungs would bother you either. Then again, I've never met you! :D If that's possible for you however it is definitely worth it to do this one. Hey, since Kris wants to go we can have a hike-NH group day trip for the Precipice. 8-10 hours of driving for 2 hours of hiking. Who's in?! :lol:


Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:12 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Wow! I see that as WAY scary, I would never dare. But it
does look really fun, IF you like that kinda stuff.

Terry


Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:59 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Oh H.E.L>L NO.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:37 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
I think I'm going to throw up.....

Sign says "No small children...." I wonder if the emphasis is on the word "small." On the other hand, we did the Beehive years ago...


Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:28 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Granite Guy wrote:
Hey, since Kris wants to go we can have a hike-NH group day trip for the Precipice. 8-10 hours of driving for 2 hours of hiking. Who's in?! :lol:


7 hours if I drive :twisted:

Someday, Precipice Trail. Someday... If I can do the New Jersey high point, both 4Ks in the Catskills, two peaks in southern Quebec, and 11 of the 14 Maine 4Ks as daytrips, I can get my sleep-loving butt on I-95 and go to Acadia for a daytrip :lol:

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Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:43 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
Beckie and Prema wrote:
I think I'm going to throw up.....

Sign says "No small children...." I wonder if the emphasis is on the word "small." On the other hand, we did the Beehive years ago...


I bet Prema would LOVE it!! :D My best friend and his wife did it a few years ago. Shes 5'0'' tall. So it can be done, although I'm sure it's easier if you're taller.

hiker0200 wrote:
Granite Guy wrote:
Hey, since Kris wants to go we can have a hike-NH group day trip for the Precipice. 8-10 hours of driving for 2 hours of hiking. Who's in?! :lol:


7 hours if I drive :twisted:

Someday, Precipice Trail. Someday... If I can do the New Jersey high point, both 4Ks in the Catskills, two peaks in southern Quebec, and 11 of the 14 Maine 4Ks as daytrips, I can get my sleep-loving butt on I-95 and go to Acadia for a daytrip :lol:


Funny. 7 is what it took me last Sunday round trip. 8)

Yeah, you can do it easily enough as a day trip. The route through Augusta is quite scenic and goes by fast. But if the day trip thing doesn't work out and the weather stays nice go overnight, or for a weekend with friends. Starting an hour from now the price for a site is 50% off for November, so $15 bucks a night. Then it's free until April. I plan to get there this winter a time or two.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:11 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
here is my point of view. Derek was really pensive about this hike beforehand. Kinda funny really. There are some real spots that test your mettle though. I am petrified of getting up on high ladders. If i get 30 feet up on an extension ladder my legs are jelly. This didn't affect me at all. It's weird how irrational fears work.

He got pretty gung ho! when you get to the entrance and after we watched people go up the cliffs from afar.
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that stopped right about here hugging the wall :lol:
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Really I envy Derek. He got to do this for his first time. If i could have it back and experience that again...

He passed the tests. Time to take the exam
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The foliage was pretty alright. not fantastic. just aiight
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one last determined look, thought before the ish hits the fan
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Ladders
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Now how am I supposed to go over this?!
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more ladders
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More of the "trail"
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How good is my insurance or how well are these drilled into the rockface?
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don't look down
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he passed the exam and had a little more hop to his step
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I have no idea how the NPS gets away with a trail like this. I am however, glad that it does exist. It's also interesting that it is closed for the majority of prime hiking season. Perhaps this ads to the lure. You can't just roll up to the trailhead whenever you want and bang out a quick Precipice run. When it is open, its more likely to rain or be icy or whatever. Even this summer when I was in Acadia, I popped by even though i knew it was closed "Just in case". The first rungs placed are probably the hardest. Just awkward and far apart and high up enough. If you can prop yourself up them, the physical part checks out. The mental part gets you over the long haul.


Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:53 pm
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 Re: Bucket Listing In Acadia Part 1 - Precipice Trail - 10/2
thegibba wrote:
Derek was really pensive about this hike beforehand. Kinda funny really.


Quote:
He got pretty gung ho! when you get to the entrance and after we watched people go up the cliffs from afar....that stopped right about here hugging the wall :lol:


This stuff is fun for me, but the hikes with smaller margins for error do always make me wonder about widowing the wife and orphaning 3 kids these days... :D ...or helplessly watching my hiking partner(s) tumble off a cliff. As usual it was a blast and I had the difficulty level way overblown in my mind. And for the record there was no wall hugging, but I definitely shook hands with my share of rocks and rebar! :lol:


Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:22 am
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