One in a series of historic hiking trail highlights leading up to the Acadia Centennial
Most people who hike Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park may not be aware of a rare opportunity that could await them at the peak.
The National Park Service has begun opening the top platform of the steel fire tower on the peak of Beech Mountain, giving people spectacular, unfettered 360-degree views of landmarks such as Echo Lake and the Cranberry Isles. Previously, only a lower platform was open for viewing. The park service calls the opening of the top platform an open house at the fire tower.
During a recent visit on a clear day, we enjoyed the views from the tower’s top platform for the first time, even though we have been hiking in Acadia for nearly 20 years including many trips up Beech.
In an interview, Gary Stellpflug, trails foreman at Acadia National Park, said he is pleased to see the top catwalk open.
“It should be,” he said. “It is a wonderful place. Everyone wants to go up there. It’s just cool. You see fewer and fewer fire towers that you can safely go up and down.”
The top platform of the fire tower will be open from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, through the end of August, according to the park’s online calendar.
The fire tower’s cabin, however, remains closed. The cabin has a wooden floor, unlike the steel grating on the platforms.
Mary Downey, a ranger who was staffing the fire tower during our recent visit, said she didn’t believe most hikers were aware it was unusual for the top platform to be open.
Beech is a popular hike. Many people likely put it on their agenda without checking the park’s calendar for the open house or even realizing that the top platform is normally closed.
“On a clear day, it’s great,” Downey said. Continue reading