Bold Coast—East Machias to Lubec
The Bold Coast sub-region’s coastline is open and rough, a mosaic of forest and marshland, providing opportunities to traverse the edges of rocky cliff-side trails and gaze out across the vast expanse of the Gulf of Maine
Paddling Machias Bay
Beyond Machias, the Byway route passes through the commercial section of East Machias, which contains numerous B&B’s in historic homes. Located adjacent to the river is the East Machias Aquatic Research Center, a research and community outreach facility on the East Machias River, where visitors can tour the fish hatchery, flow-through fresh water experimental facility, state certified water quality testing laboratory, Technical Resources Center, and Historic Museum/Education Center. Just after crossing the bridge over the East Machias River, The Byway route turns to the south along Route 191 and passes through the walkable historic district of East Machias, consisting of thirty-two buildings on 630 acres, including the Washington Academy campus, churches, and private residences.
Following Route 191 further south, the Byway route winds toward Cutler along a rocky shoreline with dramatic views over Holmes Bay and Little Machias Bay. A stop at the A2Z variety store at the former Cutler Naval Base offers local information, local art, and everything else the traveler needs before hitting the trails beyond Cutler. (Call ahead and ask for the store owner; he just might take you out on his boat for an authentic experience of harvesting “wrinkles”, touring islands, and viewing a shipwreck and an old gold mine!)
Cutler Harbor, Winter
Along the route is Looks Gourmet Food Company, in the town of Whiting, which has been producing specialty seafood products reflective of Downeast Maine traditions since it was originally formed as the East Machias Canning Company in1917! Their product line, Bar Harbor Foods, can be purchased in grocery stores and other retail businesses throughout the region.
Cutler is a picturesque village with 19th century homes perched above an active fishing harbor. Stop in at the Town Office/Library to enjoy an amazing view of Cutler Harbor and learn about local life. Chartered puffin tours are available. Travelers can take a day tour of the historic Little River Lighthouse, host a special event on the island, or even spend the night! Just before reaching Cutler village is the Western Head Preserve, a 3.5-mile hiking trail with spectacular views of the coastline and of Little River Lighthouse.
Little River Lighthouse, Cutler
West of Cutler village, Byway travelers can explore the quintessential Bold Coast Trail at the Cutler Coast Public Preserve Land, with choices of a 5- or 10-mile loop trail traversing the Atlantic Ocean’s remote and rugged shoreline. The trails traverse steep cliffs with stunning views over hidden coves, immense ocean vistas. A full experience of the coastal forest is provided by an interior trail winding through mossy woods, grasslands, blueberry fields, and bogs. Several primitive campsites are maintained along the trail. Adjacent to the Cutler Coast preserve is the Bog Brook Cove Preserve, a 1,780-acre preserve characterized by rocky knolls separated by gently sloping ground, swampy flats, wet meadows, and small brooks. The diverse habitat is home to a great variety of wildlife, including black bear, bobcat, and fisher.
Foggy Hike on Cutler Coast Public Land
From Cutler, the route turns northeast on Route 189 toward the easternmost town of Lubec, a tiny seaside village with a huge history. Lubec’s walkable downtown is lined with historic structures and its harbor is an active working waterfront. Lubec is a full service center with retail shops, restaurants, lodging, museums and galleries all located in the heart of the downtown.
The Lost Fishermen’s Memorial Park, located at the edge of the sea in downtown Lubec, provides a dramatic location to contemplate the power of the sea—the Bay of Fundy creates a visibly formidable force to boaters in the passage between Lubec and Campobello Island. McCurdy’s Smokehouse, a complex of buildings once used to smoke and pack herring, is now a museum to the cultural and economic significance of the herring industry. The R.S. Peacock Fire Museum, located at the town fire department, is home of the 1865 hand-propelled pumper tub “Torrent”, and other historic fire-fighting equipment. Take a guided or self-guided tour of historic or natural sites with Tours of Lubec and Cobscook.
Exploring the intertidal zones with Tours of Lubec and Cobscook
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse
Lubec is the home of the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, situated at the eastern-most point of the United States. A visitors’ center located inside the 1858 Light Keepers’ house within the lighthouse contains historic information and a small maritime art gallery. Quoddy Head Light is within Quoddy Head State Park and near Hamilton Cove Preserve, two perfect opportunities to explore the quintessential Bold Coast landscape. Other opportunities to explore include Mowry Beach, the Pike Lands, and other public conserved lands.
Lubec is the first gateway to the two-nation vacation experience (passports are required for entrance into Canada!). The Eastport/Lubec Ferry and the East Coast Ferries connect Lubec to Deer, Campobello, White Head, and Grand Manan Islands, all located in New Brunswick, Canada. Island hopping by ferry or with one of the many private touring companies in town provides unique opportunities for international exploration of bays, islands, and lighthouse, and for whale watching. Lubec and Campobello Island jointly sponsor the Bay of Fundy International Marathon, whose route spans two countries.
Campobello from Lubec
The Fundy Isles: New Brunswick, Canada
Just a short trip from Lubec across the international bridge to Campobello Island is Roosevelt Campobello International Park, featuring President and Eleanor Roosevelt’s summer home and celebrating the friendship between Canada and the United States. The park includes 2,800-acres with trails winding through beaches, bogs, forests, and ocean headlands.
Campobello Island also offers several dining and lodging places, and is the perfect location to explore an island community by bicycle. At the eastern end of the island is East Quoddy Head Light, a beautiful lookout spot over Canada’s Fundy Islands, but, due to intense currents in the area, caution must be used if venturing beyond the lookout point to the lighthouse itself.
Grand Manan and Whitehead Islands and Deer Island include lighthouses, beaches, soaring cliffs, colorful fishing boats, whales and seabirds, along with a range of simple and relaxing accommodations and dining experiences. These islands offer miles of undeveloped coast, hours of quiet, expansive ocean vistas, and villages of welcoming and creative hosts.
Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick