July 14, 2005
The path begins at the loop road, and the first part is a fairly subdued hike through the forest. Once above the tree line, the hike becomes more interesting. The trail curves back and forth along a sheer cliff, and the path is sometimes only a few feet wide. Handholds have been installed over the years, and hikers should make full use of these. At a point about halfway to the summit, the trail reaches a set of ledges and iron rungs affectionately referred to as the "jungle gym." After passing through the jungle gym, the trail continues up the cliffs to the summit.
From here, there is the option of climbing back down the Precipice (don't try this) or taking the Bear Brook trail back to the base of the mountain. Bear Brook has no iron rungs or ladders and is a good option for making your descent. Near the bottom of the mountain, there is a fork in the Bear Brook trail. One side leads to the parking lot, and the other to the loop road. Although the first is more direct, it takes a path through the woods, and most hikers are fairly tired by this point. The better option is to take the shorter trail to the loop road and then walk back to the parking lot that way. If you're lucky, one of the Mount Desert Island shuttles will happen along and you can flag it down and get a free ride back to your car. If you're feeling particularly daring, hitchhike.
Either way you do it, plan at least 3 hours for your hike. Bring plenty of water, especially if it's hot out. Don't take the kids, and leave any inexperienced hikers at home. The Precipice trail is dangerous, but it is rewarding experience for the adventurous, athletic, and somewhat insane.
From journal Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park