Great Head Trail is a 1.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Bar Harbor, Maine that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Moderate loop trail along Sea Cliffs on the east side of Acadia NP's Sand Beach to Great Head. Great Head Trail is moderate and loops around the perimeter of the small peninsula called Great Head located on the east side of Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. This is a great early morning hike, or afternoon for that matter, and one that the whole family can experience (with caution of course). Park in the lower Sand Beach parking area located on the left of the Park Loop Road. Take the granite steps to Sand Beach. Walk to the other side of the beach. Near the base of the rocky outcropping, look to your left for a great view of the Beehive (520 foot summit - another great hike). Close to this spot you will see a small sign leading to steps where you will begin your ascent. This starts as a leisurely climb leading to some beautiful pink granite cliffs. Follow the blue lines to be sure to stay on the best route up as it can be steep at times. Once on top, the hike is fairly easy. A sign leads your way to the right leading to Great Head where you will have wonderful views of the rocky coast, Otter Cliff, and the churning ocean below. There are ample spots for you to have a picnic, relax, or sit and reflect on the power of this place. Continue on the loop back through a section of white birch trees. Up ahead, there will be a path split. Take the left up the granite, following the markers, to return to Sand Beach. Watch for signs. There is one that you will not see the front of until you look back at it as you pass. If you continued straight, it would lead to the Schooner Head Road in Bar Harbor.
We did this hike in late October at sunrise and saw no one else on the trail. There was one other person on Sand Beach at the start of it, but overall it was very peaceful.
There are two ways to a access this trail. One is by a parking lot at the trailhead. The other is as shown in this app crossing the beach at the start, which is the one we did. To get to this trailhead, park at the beach parking lot, cross the beach itself and look to the tree line towards the east. Be careful not to go at high tide or you will get your feet wet at the trailhead.
This trail involves somewhat challenging bouldering and is complete with a section that has an iron rung to hoist yourself up. Wear sturdy shoes. We brought hiking poles and were very thankful that we did.
The trail rounds the peninsula, but great head will be labeled with a post, so you can't miss it. Some people said it wasn't well labeled, but if you focus on the blue markers you'll be fine. The blue markers show you the whole way.
There are many beautiful vistas at the top, making this well worth the effort. Sunrise was doubly beautiful.
Great views! Low traveled. Not terrifically marked but just follow the water and you will make out great. Could be dangerous for kids as there are large drops.
This was a great trail. Pretty moderate trail but you can explore off to the water and find some cool areas. We climbed on the rocks out there which was a lot of fun.
Quick trail! I liked that it was near the ocean so every so often you would get a glimpse of the ocean and the sounds of the waves. Beautiful views. The trail had a lot of rocky areas so be sure to follow the blue lines to find the path of the trail and use shoes with good traction, so you're not sliding down rocks.
Absolutely beautiful. Lots of bang for your buck - every step up and around the granite rocks gives you a stunning new view. Looking down at the beach is incredible, and so is walking around the cliffs and seeing more and more of the ocean.
Lots of climbing up and down large granite boulders. Definitely not a smooth clear cut trail, but it's short and definitely doable for someone who only gets to hike a few times a year.
I did not see a sign pointing to the steps on the beach at the beginning of the trail, but if you just cross the beach from the parking lot side, you will see them. A+++
Beautiful views. Fairly easy trail with only a few very rocky sections. Can be a little tricky to find the trailhead if you're coming from the beach.
Great trip. Went on several hikes in Acadia and this was our favorite. Had a good time, but be ready for quite a bit of climbing up and down rocks. Went in late July, great weather. Saw beaches, and rocks/cliffs.
It requires a little bit of rock scrambling on the climb up from the east end of the beach. But otherwise the trail is not difficult. Spectacular views of Sand Beach, Gorham Mountain, Otter Cliffs and the ocean and shore below (as long as it is not foggy). There are several places where you can climb down on the rocks to explore. I loved this trail and could hike it many times!
LOVE this trail the most
we went off trail down to waters edge and did some climbing on rocks