There are few places in America that provide ocean panoramas while climbing; there are fewer that offer unrivaled-quality granite cliffs, escarpments, and bouldering where waves crash at your back. Acadia is one of these few places. For some reason, some of the best geology, quality rock, and steep climbing all blended together to make this one-of-a-kind climbing experience. Acadia National Park climbing and bouldering is like no-place else on earth. There is a good mix of bolted climbs, trad, seaside cliffs, alpinesque cliffs, small crags and slabs. You can find steep faces, overhangs, beach and woods boulders, crack climbs and dihedrals. The areas most visited spot is either the Precipice or Otter Cliffs. Many areas can also be found along the coast that are not heavily traveled or well known to anybody but locals. If you climb on the East Coast this is one place you should plan to visit. The granite is as good as anyplace in New England. Climbs like Chitlin Corner have some the best quality stone in New England and offer some of New England’s best rock climbing. Some say the granite is even better than New Hampshire rock climbing areas.
One of the best things about Acadia National Parks climbing is the diversity. There are bolted routes, cracks that eat up trad gear, and giant boulders. The main areas in the park are: Otter Cliffs, the Precipice, The Bubble, Cadillac Mountain, Canada Cliffs, Sand Beach, and the Beehive Boulders. Tim Toula stated when he was writing his Rock N’ Road guidebook that he thought the best bouldering was on the bridges. True, this buildering experience is unique: imagine the cleanest granite blocks made into massive bridges with great edges to climb on; but the areas on Sand Beach, the Monument Cove area, Thunder Hole, and the Beehive are the best quality bouldering in the park.
Best Areas to Climb
Otter Cliffs: The most popular area in the park. Has seaside climbing with great anchors on top that the park installed in the 90s. Great cracks, faces and good gear placements. Routes range from 5.4 to 5.12. The area is often crowded. Approach is 2 minutes.
The Precipice: Multi Pitch climbing on the mountain high above the ocean. Great routes, cracks and some mixed bolt/trad lines. A few bolted lines but mostly trad with great gear. Small sizes are useful here as are medium.
South Bubble: This is a small cliff with 15 minute approach and only a few routes. It can be seen above Jordan Pond and has some high quality slabs.
Canada Cliffs: Bolted sport and mixed bolt/trad but mostly just bolt. This area has a two minute approach and offers much different style than most of the park but is mostly steep one pitch under 100 feet.
Acadia national Park is located south of Bangor, Maine on the coast. It is 4 to 5 hours drive from Boston, depending on the route you take. Going through Bangor is recommended and much faster than taking the coast the whole way. Taking Rt 1 is long and ridden with tourists going to outlets and leaf peeping! From Bangor RT 1A takes you to Bar Harbor where there is a ton of lodging: everything from four-star hotels, quaint B&Bs or camping. There is also several camping opportunities in the park but watch for them filling quick in summer.
Here is a video of some of the great bouldering found at Great Head where the most concentration of steep bouldering is located.