In sticking with our "uniquely Acadia" theme, this hike offers a nice combination, of steeps, and views in many directions.
The hike begins at the bottom of Beech Cliff. After a few switchbacks there is a section with guard railings. There is the normal flora and fauna along the way as well as lots of granite. Note: If you are only interested in the views, this part of the hike could be skipped and you could park in the Beech Mt. parking lot. It will turn this hike from a 2-hour medium length difficult hike to a one-hour short length moderate hike.)
The hike is steep, but because of the guard rails, it is not a scary as other hikes. Just prior to the top are four iron ladders ranging from 6 feet to 20 feet. There is a wonderful outcropping here with a great view of Echo Lake with Acadia and St. Saveur Mountains in front, with Norumbega showing behind and to the left.
An aside: There are two loops at the top: Canada Cliffs and Beech Cliffs. Both are nice and including them will add about an hour. However, you probably won't see anything different. In addition, the Beech Cliffs loop is usually closed until mid-August due to bird breeding of protected species.
Follow the sign that takes you to the right and after a short and relatively flat stretch, you will come to the Beech Mountain Parking Lot. Bear to the right side of the parking lot and cross it. The trail head for Beech Mountain is right there.
Note: The South Ridge Trail and the Valley Trail are pleasant but are primarily a walk in the woods with no real views.
Shortly after the start up Beech Mountain, the trail forks into a loop. Either way is fine, but since steeper is easier to go up than to come down, what follows assumes the left fork. There are numerous places to get great views of Echo Lake with Acadia and St. Saveur Mountains in front, with Norumbega showing behind and to the left, but now we are up higher and the ridge line of Sargent and Penobscott and Cedar Swamp show up behind.
At the top is an old Ranger Tower. The top has never been open when I was there, but from midway on the tower there is about a 300 degree panorama, with a few high trees blocking a bit of the due north view. In addition to the views mentioned already, now you can also see to the west, Mansell Mountain. Looking south, the entire southwestern part of the Island well into the bays and ocean are quite wonderful to see.
From the tower, continue the loop which appears to be taking you in the wrong direction. Bear right at both trail forks, first at South Ridge and second at West Ridge. Continuing along some great views of Mansell Mountain and Long Pond appear to the left.
When you reach the Beech Mountain Parking lot, bear to the left follow the Beech Cliffs trail back to the Echo Lake Parking Lot.
In a short distance, you've gotten a pretty good work out and a set of "Uniquely Acadia Views." On my "uniquely Acadia scale", I rate this hike a B+ to A-. Of all the hikes that I've rated, this has the best views of the southwestern part of the Island and the only views of the southern part of Long Pond.