The western side of Mount Desert Island has many great hiking opportunities. It also has much less tourist traffic on the roads and trails. If you seek a more secluded day on the trail, I encourage you to start exploring what the western side has to offer. To start, I want to introduce Beech Mountain. It's a great spot for light hiking with amazing views of the island. I will give you two options for exploring Beech Mountain, one is longer than the other but so worth it.
Starting Point: Beech Mountain Trail Parking Lot
Option A Distance: 1.1 miles
Option B Distance: 2.3 miles
To start, park your vehicle in the Beech Mountain Trail Parking Lot. At the trailhead, follow signs for the Beech Mountain Loop. This is a fairly easy hike that takes you to the summit and back to the parking lot. Don't let the distance fool you though. When you walk the ridge in the summer time, the exposed granite will have groves of Sheep Laurel, with rich magenta and pink flowers. Also, you might score some free snacks if the blueberries are ripe enough.
St. Sauveur, Acadia & Parkman Mountain - Beech Mountain Summit
At the top, you will be greeted with an amazing view of Long Pond, and a panoramic view of the southern tip of the island. To get a slightly better view, you can climb up a portion of the fire tower located on the top of the mountain. The very top will be locked. To return to your vehicle, keep an eye out for signs for the Beech Mountain loop and begin your descent.
Beech Mountain Fire Tower
This is such a great spot for a late afternoon hike. There is not a lot of elevation gain on the loop which makes this hike great introduction for those who want to start hiking. Due to the short distance of the hike and amazing view, I would add "Watch the Sunset over Long Pond" to your Acadia to-do list.
Long Pond - Beech Mountain Loop Trail
For this hike you can park in the same lot as Option A, the Beech Mountain Trail Parking Lot. Look for the trailhead with signs for the Beech Mountain Loop. Your hike will start on this trail, but at the fork you want to keep to the left. Follow the trail all the way to the top. You will know you are there because of the fire tower. While you are there, enjoy the wonderful views of Long Pond before pressing on with the hike.
Canopy - Beech Mountain Loop Trail
From the fire tower, keep walking straight (south) until you see a sign marking the South Ridge trail. This is the next leg of the hike. The trail will take you along areas of exposed granite, covered in lichens. Keep an eye out for wild blueberries if you do this hike in the summer time. As you make your way down the mountain, you will have views of Mansell Mountain to the west, and Bass Harbor to the south.
Towards the end of the South Ridge trail, thing will be a little steep. Watch your footing, as the trail makes a few switch-backs to get you to the bottom. The last part of the South Ridge Trail has very lush with mosses and ferns clinging to every boulder and tree.
Polypody Ferns - Valley Trail
The South Ridge Trail ends at the Valley Trail. At this intersection, turn left onto the Valley Trail. You can follow the Valley Trail back to the parking lot where you left your vehicle. The Valley Trail is full of trailside wonders to enjoy as you make your way back. Like the name implies, the trail passes between Beech Mountain and hills that form the Beech and Canada Cliffs. You will pass by boulder fields covered in mosses and ferns, adding rich texture to the scenes. Tiny ferns grow on all available space, including the bark of trees. I am sure you will enjoy the easy walk back to your vehicle and see a rich landscape on the way.