Type: Trad, 400 ft, 3 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,377 total · 35/month
Shared By: Robert Hall on Sep 10, 2015
Admins: Ladd, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Annual Trail Closures to protect Peregrine falcons Details


This "route" (which is not in the current guidebook) was recommended to me by a world-traveled climber as a "don't miss". While most technical climbers could easily solo it, an uncaught slip would certainly be fatal. It is most interesting climbed with a short rope and about 5-6 long "alpine draws". (We used a 50M 8mm doubled over for 80ft, which seemed about right). Unlike maintained Via Ferratas, there are no cables to clip into along the way and the steel rods that do exist are suspect due to age.

START- See "Location" for approach. To get to the start of the Via Ferrata continue only another 40-50 ft beyond where the path reaches the Upper Slabs, and then go straight up on talus to the base of a open-book corner of black rock with two iron (steel?) "L-beams" overhead [photo], only one of which is still connected on the right side.

P1 - EITHER climb the black corner (5.0 - 5.2) and then exit right by going up between the L-beams [photo],...OR, scramble up the grassy buttress and balance ACROSS the L-Beams! (I have no idea how to rate this!) 30 ft.

P2 - P3 - P4 - P5 etc. Follow the "yellow brick road" (well, actually the brown, rusted iron road) on a long, rising diagonal to the right, placing protection for the follower(s) after any tricky moves. After the last, short 3-4 ft horizontal ladder (there's only one this small) look to continue right for a while, but then cut back left to more open rock (fewer bushes) to the summit.

Descent - Follow the south hiking trail (towards Jordan Pond) off the summit for about 75-100 yds, and then you can cut back to hiker's left and get onto the talus and back to the base of the Ferrata and Upper Slabs. [As part of your approach to the climb, you might consider walking up to this point (it's only about 150-200 ft beyond Upper Slabs) before you do the climb so as to be able to recognize it.]


On the loop road park at either Bubble Rock parking (and walk about 5-10 min south on the main trail towards Jordan Pond) or park 1/4Mi. south at a much smaller pull-over lot.
From the pull-over lot, walk down the stone steps, join the main trail and walk south (left) 75-100 feet to a well worn climber's path on the right. Up to the climber's register.
The path moves up and left on talus, reaching the cliff at Lower Slabs. About another 50-75 ft and you are below where a 20ft scramble leads to the base of Upper Slabs. To get to the start of the Via Ferrata continue only another 40-50 ft and then go straight up on talus to the base of a open-book corner of black rock.


about 5-6 alpine draws
micah richard
Litchfield, Connecticut
micah richard   Litchfield, Connecticut
We traversed this old ladder trail from the anchor at the top of the upper slab , after rapping off Gargoyle. It is super easy for anyone with sticky shoes, i wouldn't bother to bring a rope if i did it again. However THE IRON HANDRAILS ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED! Some of them are rotted all the way through the entire 3/4 inch diameter steel rod. Some are hanging on by as little as 1/8 inch of material. Some of the iron rails are lying in the woods below the slabs, after falling off the cliff. Some seem perfectly solid, but i wouldn't bet my life on it. Don't do this unless you have some experience climbing, and have climbing shoes on. A slip with sneakers or flip flops, would likely be fatal. It is way more exposed than the Precipice trail. A worthwhile adventure, for aficionados of abandoned ladder trails in the park. Sep 7, 2017
Jeff Booth
Groton, MA
Jeff Booth   Groton, MA
I brought one of my teenage sons on this route yesterday as a refresher on multi-pitch (we have done it before but it seemed like an easy way to reinforce the protocols). As such I brought a light rack from a Blue Alien to a 0.75 Camalot and was glad that I did, the iron is not very trustworthy (and it is not improving either) and there are some great splitters along the way, especially after P2. that will make great gear anchors. Based on the description we doubled up an 8.4mm 60m rope and that was really the correct length because this traverses so much and communication would be challenging at more than 30m of separation. Per usual for this type of cliff where tourists have access above, people were willfully tossing rocks off the top that landed close to us; I was glad we wore helmets. Jul 28, 2018
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
Why doesn't the NPS re-establish this? It seems like a worthwhile adventure (and an accident waiting to happen in its current condition). Dec 4, 2018
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  Easy 5th
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  Easy 5th
Peter-- Probably "Budget $$$'s" (i.e lack thereof) and/or Liability issues. About the only place I know of where the Park Service (Dept of Interior) maintains something like this is the Half Dome "Cable Route". There are probably many places where "safety fences" are maintained (e.g. Angel's Landing at Zion, Glacier Point in Yosemite and similar in Yellowstone) but Half Dome is the only place I can think of where the US Nat. Park Service maintains a "climbing" route.

Also, I hate to say it, but I suspect that if this were "upgraded" to the safety level of, say, Half Dome's Cable Route we'd see a HUGE number of non-climbers on it. In addition to just these numbers presenting a safety issue to "themselves" (falling, etc) there's the fact they would be "climbing" directly over a popular beginner's-type area and you get a rockfall hazard. So I'd say "Leave well enough alone". Perhaps it's an "elitist" attitude, but I'd think it's safer for all involved to leave the "climbing [of this route] to climbers". Dec 4, 2018
Peter, it shocks me that in this modern society the NPS even allows common folk on ladder hikes without ropes and guides! Dec 4, 2018
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  Easy 5th
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  Easy 5th
Mobes: Yup...it is sort of interesting, maybe some of NH's "Live Free or Die" rubbed off onto the Acadia admins. However, (if you haven't done it) this outing is way beyond the occasional 1-2 step ladder you get on some of the Acadia trails. Dec 4, 2018
When I took my eight year old up the precipice this fall for our first time I was thinking that there were multiple spots where falling was not an option, not really a one or two rung hike! This old ferrata will most likely be the kids first multi pitch next spring.
Angels landing in Zion is another NPS wonder hike! Dec 4, 2018
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  Easy 5th
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  Easy 5th
Mobes - That should be a great outing! And yes, just so others don't get the wrong idea, there are several places on the Precipice "Trail" where you don't want to fall. Dec 4, 2018