Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Precipitous Clike: Champlain Mountain (10/17/11)

Atop Champlain Mtn

Trip: Precipice Trail – Champlain Mountain
Distance: 0.9 Miles – 1000 feet
Location: Acadia National Park
Sights: Indescribable

It was only a 10 foot sideways shimmy across the ledge, but looking out over the fantastic foliage and Atlantic stretching out toward Europe I lost it a bit. My akrophobia kicked in and I briefly panicked.

The Precipice trail was called a “non-technical climbing trail”. It has ladders and railings bolted into the rocks. An Asian couple ahead of us determined that hipster sneakers were no good for climbing over the boulders and the railings.
Scott – despite running a marathon the day before – wanted to take this less than one mile hike/climb (clike?) as we were there at the right time. Apparently most of the year it’s either unsuitable for climbing or the falcons are nesting. So, Scott – along with four of us who didn’t run the full marathon the day before – left early to get the clike in.

The Granite Cubi

The first real challenge was the boulders (and keeping track of the blue tags on the boulders). These were sharp edged cubical boulders that were piled like some giant granite David Smith sculpture. While we climbed our way over boulder after boulder straight to the top, the person behind us pointed out we’d gone too far and gotten off the blue trails. OOPS. Climbing back down the granite Cubi we found our way back onto the trail.

I found a cave

The trip moved from hike into climb here. Ladders and railings were placed throughout. However, Sara commented that there seemed to be lacking railings in places that were obviously more difficult than places where there were railings. Once we got to the wet cliff edge, I couldn’t have agreed more.
Panicking like an idiot, I began to breathe heavy and sweat from my hands. Two things brought me back. First was thinking back to bungee jumping and second was calm words from the other four in my group. So, slowly I shimmied my way in 8 inch bursts across the 10 or so feet to the end of the cliff. I stood up; took a deep breath and was ready to go.
We climbed our way through the last bits of ladders and railings (at least one wasn’t really attached properly). As we got toward the summit above the treeline, it flattened out and showed the most rewarding views.


  1. So you had to cross a 10 foot ledge? How wide was the ledge? My palms started to sweat just reading about it. It looks like the hike was worth it though--gorgeous!

  2. It was wide enough that it wasn't really that dangerous and narrow enough to freak the hell out of me.

    It was probably 6 feet wide?

    Yeah, the palms are sweaty just thinking about it while writing this.

  3. I've hiked many of the trails in Acadia, but I've never been able to do The Precipice. It's always closed when I am usually there because of the falcons. I made a trip last fall and had myself all psyched up to do it one morning...and it turned out to be very foggy. When I do it I want it clear so I can take pictures and see the sights. Thanks for the description and pics. The view from the top of CHamplain is really something, isn't it?

    If you are interested, I wrote about a hike up The Beehive and the South Ridge of Champlain. You can read it here:

    (You can also see the other hikes I've posted about by clicking on the "Hikes" tag at the bottom of the post.)

    1. Chip -

      This is the only one I HAVE done. We got lucky with views and the fact that it was open.

      Scott had always wanted to do it but couldn't because of the falcons. So we did it even though it was the day after he ran a marathon!