Coastal Villages—Milbridge to Machias
The Coastal Villages sub-region is exemplified by compact and well preserved historic settlements situated in protected coastal harbors, and up tidally influenced rivers, sometimes several miles inland. Here blueberry barrens and cool, clear waters are abundant.
Prior to entering Milbridge, just a short drive from Route 1 in Steuben are the Pigeon Hill trail and the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, both of which provide opportunities for exhilarating views and hikes at the coastal entrance to “Downeast” Maine. Steuben village is a small historic village center, and marks the beginning of the Bold Coast section of the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium sculpture trail (other host towns along the Byway include Milbridge, Harrington, Addison, Jonesport, Roque Bluffs, Machias, Lubec, and Eastport, with it’s culmination in Calais). Steuben is also home to the Eagle Hill Institute, a scientific and literary organization offering professional seminars and and community lectures in the natural history sciences.
Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge
Downtown Milbridge is easily walkable, and contains many historic 19th century homes including that of blueberry baron Jasper Wyman (located close to the start of the byway route). Milbridge is the home of a family owned-and operated Christmas wreath company, has an active fishing harbor situated at the mouth of the Narraguagus River, and offers opportunities to sample fresh, local seafood and enjoy wildlife watching boat tours. (Several tour operators offer private wildlife viewing and sightseeing tours from the public dock just outside of town.) Visitors can learn about the town’s maritime heritage at the Milbridge Historical Society.
Just a short drive from downtown Milbridge is McClellan Park, a municipal park and campground with walking trails and picnic benches situated at the edge of the rugged rocky coast. Milbridge Days is an enduring annual community celebration with events such as the infamous codfish relay race.
Milbridge was inspired by the English town of Todmorden whose residents transformed their small city into a booming market destination known as “Incredible Edible Todmorden”. Now, Milbridge is transforming its own downtown into an Incredible Edible community where people are invited to snack on publicly planted, locally grown fruits and vegetables as they explore the town.
Milbridge Public Wharf
From Milbridge, the Byway follows Route 1 through Cherryfield, known as “the Blueberry Capital of the World.” Wyman’s of Maine, located at the northern edge of Cherryfield, is one of the largest wild blueberry producers in the world! (The factories and a sample of their vast holdings of blueberry barrens are visible from Route 193 north, about 10-15 minutes out of Cherryfield.)
Cherryfield is a historic lumbering village built on the Narraguagus River and boasting a downtown historic district of over 75 acres spanning both sides of the river. This National Historic District contains 52 substantially intact contributing structures. (The Cherryfield Historical Society provides a downloadable walking tour.)
Cherryfield Historic District
Cherryfield contains antique and gift shops, an old-fashioned general store, a B&B offering English Tea, and hosts Destination Cherryfield and Cherryfield Days, both annual hometown celebrations with local crafts, music, and home-cooked food. Downtown Cherryfield offers a leisurely stroll around the Narraguagus River with several pocket parks for picnicking, fishing, and enjoying the meander of the water. Just outside of town are blueberry and vegetable farms, a winery, and an alpaca farm, all offering fresh products and farm tours.
Rake Your Own Blueberries, Beddington Ridge Farm
A local operator offers privately chartered tours of the blueberry barrens, the Great Heath, the Bold Coast Scenic Byway, the Maine Ice Age Trail, and more. The Great Heath, a 6,000-acre wilderness area containing the largest raised bog ecosystem in Maine, offers remote paddling and bird watching opportunities just a short drive from Cherryfield—but you’d better ask a local for directions!
The Downeast Sunrise Trail
, a segment of the East Coast Greenway
, is easily accessible from the Cable Pool boat launch, also the starting point for a peaceful paddle up the Narraguagus River. (The Downeast Sunrise Trail is an 85-mile, multi-use rail-trail conversion through undeveloped forests and wetland, with awesome views of mountains and lakes; and linking Bold Coast communities from Steuben to Pembroke.)
The Downeast Sunrise Trail at Cable Pool Park, Cherryfield
Breathtaking scenery and numerous opportunities for paddling, fishing, wildlife-viewing, hiking, camping, and swimming in clear, quiet lakes are just a few minutes drive out of town along the Black Woods Scenic Byway.
Tunk Mountain over Spring River Lake, Black Woods Scenic Byway
Harrington and Columbia
From Cherryfield, the Byway route continues along Route 1 through Harrington and Columbia, where historic homes, salt marshes, agricultural land, blueberry fields, tidal mudflats, and coastal forests abound. In Harrington, the Frank E. Woodworth Preserve trail winds through moss-carpeted woodlands containing trees more than a century old. The trail emerges at the shoreline overlooking the upper reaches of Pleasant Bay. Several tidal rivers converge off Ripley Neck, supporting a wide array of shorebirds and waterfowl. Harrington is the home of a locally-owned and -operated wreath company which manages 4,000 acres of balsam forest. A family-operated cranberry farm which occasionally offers tours, is located just south of the byway on Route 1A in Harrington. Ocean-side cabins are available in several locations.
Buoy Collection, Harrington
Columbia’s retail center, locally known as The Four Corners, offers a compact and comprehensive service center. Not far off the beaten tracks in Columbia are endless miles of dirt roads winding through vast blueberry barrens (incredible scenery, but not a good idea to explore without a local guide…especially during harvest season!). Several small farms easily accessible from the Four Corners offer opportunities for visitors to learn about farming life.
Columbia Falls, a short loop off the official Byway route, contains many historic homes in its walkable village, including the Historic Ruggles House Museum, which showcases Federal Design and Adam Ornament (including a flying staircase and original furniture.) The Wreaths Across America Museum showcases US military items and documents the history of the organization, including its wreath donation program. The Downeast Salmon Federation, a stop along the Downeast Fisheries Trail, offers education about wild Atlantic Salmon and related fisheries and habitats, and hosts an annual Smelt Fry during the spring run. A traditional blacksmith’s trade may be caught at the Margaretta Days Festival in Machias. A local pottery artist can be visited in the heart of Columbia Falls village.
Historic Columbia Falls Village
From Route 1 in Columbia Falls, just beyond the village center, the Byway route turns southward on Route 187 towards Jonesport. You won’t miss the turn – it is marked by a giant blueberry-shaped gift shop and bakery located at the intersection of Route187 and Route 1. Blueberries used in the bakery of this shop come from the shopkeepers’ farm, Wescogus Farm, located just a short drive down Route 187. Farm tours and blueberry lore are sometimes offered during the annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival.
Addison and South Addison
About 2 miles south on Route 187, just past Wescogus Farm, a slight detour into the town of Addison offers vistas across wildlife-rich tidal saltmarshes, a quaint and historic village, and a stop along the Schoodic International Sculpture Trail at a beautiful little park and picnic area.
Foggy Beach, South Addison
In Addison several boat landings provide access to numerous points along the Maine Island Trail Association’s trail network of islands and water. Visitors can camp overnight in Addison, visit art galleries, kayak the Island Trail, or charter a boat tour of the Pleasant River Estuary.
With just a little more travel time, South Addison offers exploration of Tibbett Island
, a 23-acre island just 600 feet offshore. Ingersoll Point Preserve
has145 forested acres with over 3 miles of trails on Carrying Place Cove and Wohoa Bay. South Addison’s Cape Split was the beloved summer home of artist John Marin
Summer Scene, South Addison
Lincoln Park, adjacent to the Lamb of God Church, greets visitors at the gateway to Jonesport, where Route 187 South meets the sea. This is the site of both a historic settler’s cemetery lined with lichen-covered headstones and a modern granite sculpture created as part of the 2014 Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. Sweeping vistas of Moosabec reach and the Jonesport/Beals bridge can be enjoyed from granite benches. Limited parking is available, and downtown Jonesport is a just short stroll away through a compact, historic, picturesque, and hard-working fishing village.
Lobster Traps and Boats, Jonesport
The main street of downtown Jonesport is quite walkable, and offers excellent views of a classic working waterfront (as do many of the winding side streets…the Old House Point Road is not to be missed!) Moosabec Mussels offers tours of their mussel and clam processing facility. Visitors can watch fishermen work in the small cove off Hopkins Beach or from the public boat launch near the historical society. Chartered boat tours provide opportunities to see and even touch local wildlife, hear tales from the deep, and watch fishermen tending traps. Fresh, locally caught seafood is available from several in-town vendors. Area stores are gathering places for swapping stories with local folk.
Peabody Memorial Library, in the heart of downtown Jonesport, hosts a non-profit art in the library program for local artists, and boasts a full gallery with “meet the artist” public social events. The work of local artists can also be seen at several antiques, art, craft, and gift shops and galleries throughout town.
The Jonesport Historical Society’s Heritage Center is strategically located (in the Sawyer Building, a piece of history in itself!) adjacent to the working waterfront, where the town’s seafaring heritage is quite evident today. The Jonesport Historical Society preserves artifacts and houses the “Jonesport Heritage Center,” an expansive computer database of local history.
Lincoln Park, Jonesport
The Maine Coast Sardine History Museum is a small museum preserving the history of the Maine Sardine Industry. Exhibits include hundreds of photographs, original cans, labels, packaging, crates, letterheads, and billheads, and original fishing, processing, and canning equipment.
The Nellie Chapin Marker, located adjacent to the Coast Guard Station, memorializes the historic attempt by Jonesporters to move to the town of Jaffa in Palestine, with the stated purpose of awaiting the second coming of Christ and reclaiming the Holy Land, while also creating a profitable colony.
The Jonesport Peapod is manufactured in downtown Jonesport. Modeled after a century-old wooden rowing/sailing boat, this peapod was traditionally used for lobstering and carrying people and supplies along the coast (if you rent the shipyard owner’s cottage, use of a sailing peapod is included!)
The annual Jonesport/Beals lobster boat races and regular summer Moosabec Mudruns offer plenty of fast, noisy, and hilariously fun, family-friendly local color.
A community equally steeped in fishing culture is Beals Island, just a quick trip over the Jonesport/Beals Bridge. Beals Island offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a hard-working, family-oriented fishing community. Beals Island claims to host the worlds tallest lobster trap Christmas tree.
Beyond the island community of Beals is Great Wass Island. The Downeast Institute, a shellfish hatchery, offers educational tours about marine biology and the raising of shellfish seed. Further out on the southern point of the island is the Great Wass Island Preserve, with trails winding over 1,500 acres through deep, moss-floored spruce and fir forests, with spectacular cliff-top views over the islands of Eastern Bay.
Great Wass Island Preserve
From Jonesport, the Byway route loops back around to the north on Route 187, wending its way along the rocky coast of Chandler Bay. Sandy River Beach, a rare-for-the-area expanse of public access sand beach, offers picnic tables and grills near a public-access parking lot (please be mindful of the private residences located close to the public area and along the beach.)
Continuing further along Route 187, look for the Maine Central Model Railroad (consisting of more than 400 freight cars, 20 diesel engines and some 3,000 feet of track!) located in a private residence and open for viewing by the public. Further north is the Hubbard Rake Company, manufacturer of the classic hand-held blueberry rake, and innovator of the 5-foot harvester as well as the miniature backpacker’s rake. Ike Hubbard welcomes folks to talk shop and maybe rake some blueberries.
Roque Bluffs State Park
Jonesboro, Roque Bluffs, and Whitneyville
Just before Route 187 rejoins Route 1 is Garden Side Dairy at Hatch Knoll Farm, a family goat farm offering specialty goat milk cheeses, classes, and opportunities to interact with the goats and walk in the boots of the farmers.
The Byway route rejoins Route 1 in Jonesboro. Here visitors can enjoy a game of golf, hike along the Tide Mill Creek trail, or relax and picnic beside the Chandler River at the Jonesboro Memorial Park, site of the historic settlement of Chandler River Village.
A short side trip from Jonesboro southward again about 8 miles from US Route 1 takes the traveler to Roque Bluffs State Park, A 274-acre park offering miles of hiking trails, a picnic area and freshwater pond, and sandy beach lined with wild beach roses, perfect for swimming, beach-combing, wildlife viewing, and paddling. During the annual Wild Blueberry Festival in Machias, Welch Farm in Roque Bluffs offers educational and historic tours of their family-owned wild blueberry farm.
Blueberry Barrens in Autumn, Jonesboro
Another short drive out of Jonesboro village, this time a few minutes south along Route 1, leads to the Blueberry Hill Farm Agricultural Research Station, where the University of Maine conducts research into blueberry farming techniques (tours are available, but visitors must arrange these well in advance.)
From Jonesboro, the Byway continues its winding course along Route 1 through the dense coastal forests and scenic blueberry barrens of Whitneyville toward the city of Machias. Whitneyville is the home of a family-owned and -operated commercial Christmas wreath and wild blueberry company.
Blueberry Raking Crew, Whitneyville
Downtown Machias, a Maine Downtown Network Community, is situated along the Machias River and around Bad Little Falls Park. Dubbed the Shire town of Washington County, Machias is a cultural and service center regionally famous for its role in the Revolutionary War. Machias is the site of the Battle of the Margaretta, the first naval battle of the Revolution, and hosts an annual celebration, Margaretta Day. The Burnham Tavern, now a museum in downtown Machias, played an important role in that battle, gaining distinction as one of 21 homes in the United States most significant to the American Revolution. A historic walking tour offered in collaboration between a local historian and the Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce begins at the Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street.
Bad Little Falls Park
Machias’ downtown contains numerous exemplary 19th century structures, and unique shopping, lodging, and dining opportunities (including world-famous blueberry pie and delectable lobster stew!) all within a walkable distance. Machias is home to the University of Maine at Machias and the Beehive Design Collective (located in a historic Grange Hall and open to the public), both participating in arts, community, educational, entertainment and philanthropic events throughout the year.
Blueberry Martini and Blueberry Lemonade at Helen's, Machias
The Downeast Sunrise Trail is easily accessible from downtown Machias, near the dike where antique vendors, and fisher-folk display their offerings, canoe and kayak tours begin, and the Machias Farmer’s Market is held. Machias hosts several yearly festivals celebrating art, history, food, and local culture, including the Wild Blueberry Festival and Margaretta Days, and hosts a monthly First Friday art walk through most of the year.
From downtown Machias, Route 92 offers a detour to Machiasport, home of Jasper Beach, the Gates House Museum and the Fort O’Brien State Historic Site, which preserves the remains of a fort that was originally built in 1775 to protect Machias Bay, and was destroyed and re-built three times over a 90 year period.