Need A Family Climbing Destination? Check Out Acadia National Park

Looking for a family-friendly getaway? We found it at Acadia National Park in Maine. With New England’s “leaf peeping” season upon us, we found ourselves in a long line of cars. We’d planned on climbing all over the classic sea cliffs in the national park, but with hurricane Matthew’s final winds and my equally tumultuous belly, we ended up on an altered course.

Three days of subdued activity ended up being an idyllic family-focused adventure. Day one found us on the classic Beehive Trail, an appropriately “busy” class 3 and 4 scramble tamed by the addition of steel rungs and hand rails in the most exposed spots. After a few “Hillary Step” type bottlenecks, we summited in blustery winds and a bit of drizzle. We quickly descended to the safety of the beach and more coastline hiking, previewing the islands classic seaside routes.

Day two found us upping the ante and headed up the steeper, more exposed and aptly named, Precipice trail. If your little ones find the Beehive a cruise, the Precipice should be a welcome advancement. With many more exposed sections of ladders and handrails, the Precipice was a welcome challenge to my daughter, age 10, who always plays the “that was so easy” card when we’re out.

On day three, if your child flew up the Beehive and Precipice with flying colors, consider breaking out the “fifth class” gear and weaving your way up the ultra-classic Story of O on the South Wall, the same wall the Precipice Trail ascends. Only, this time, there are no rungs or hand rails, just three pitches of great face climbing on flakes and sweet, steep cracks, all topped off with accommodating belay ledges and an easy—read: fun—descent via rappel. Two single 60-meter rappels via bomber, bolted, stations will get your family back on flat ground. A short five-minute stroll back to the car and you may find yourself downplaying “father of the year” accolades! Acadia National Park, near Bar Harbor, Maine, makes a great three-day family get away.