Acadia National Park Hiking Guide | Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Loop

Distance: 2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 492 Feet
Location: Southwest Harbor, ME

I went out on this cold grey day to see Beech Cliff in the snow. Somehow distance casts the world in nearly black and white. Up close, you can see bright green ferns, dusty pale green reindeer moss, the dark green needles of evergreens, the red tips of bare birch branches. 

But from afar, the world loses nearly all color. I usually think of grey days as indicating the color of the sky, not the world itself, but here we are.

Beech Cliff ascends from the western side of Echo Lake, the bulk of which has yet to freeze, but here an animal has tested the ice.

There's something joyful about the physicality of hiking. Often, the trees are closer together at lower elevation, so many trails are shaded at the beginning. With the ascent, heart rate increases. The body warms as trees thin allowing more and more light. It's unsurprising that "elation" and "elevation" can both be traced back to Latin words for "raised."

More than the views, more than the sheer enjoyment of rock scrambling, I've found that going on hikes disorients me in a really wonderful way.

Familiarity lends itself to stagnancy. New air has a way of revealing assumptions, allowing the mind a new perspective on old thoughts. 

Because there are so many variables: where the sun is in the sky, humidity and cloudiness, the temperature, the season, my own mental space, it is very hard to do the same hike twice, to feel that the space is known, that I've exhausted its mysteries. 

No matter how often I hike a given trail, I notice new ferns, new mosses, new clouds, and with them come new thoughts, new observations, new perspectives.


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