Sometimes the best adventures are accidental. They’re born out of plans that fall flat, a last-minute change of direction, and a willingness to pack up the car, start driving, and see what happens.
That’s how I ended up on one of Maine’s most gorgeous coastal trails last summer.
My friend Wendy and I had long-standing plans to camp in New Brunswick. Those plans came a-tumbling down the first night – as long-standing plans are wont to do – and we were left wondering if there was any way to salvage what was left of our long weekend. So we pointed the car south and headed back into Maine, deciding that we’d stop at the first state park we came across (also, we googled, so it wasn’t entirely fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, but still).
Lucky for us, there were camping sites aplenty at Cobscook Bay State Park in Dennysville, even on that sunny summer Saturday.
We pitched our tent under the trees overlooking Broad Cove (the tides here are tremendous to watch over the course of a day) and gave cheers to Maine’s state park system, which never seems to let us down. (More on the camping below.)
And we had no idea that our weekend was about to get even better when we ventured into Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, which is located about 30 minutes from the state park (and here I thought the pie-iron grilled cheeses were going to be the highlight).
Cutler Coast is often called the “Bold Coast” for reasons that become readily clear the moment you set eyes on those cliffs.
There are 10 miles of trails here, including 3.5 miles of coastal trail, where you can look down into the Bay of Fundy from atop the cliffs or walk through meadows of chest-high flowers before ducking back onto the tree-covered trail. From the trailhead, it’s 1.4 miles of fairly easy going trail to get to the coast and the promontory featuring breathtaking views.
We loitered here for a long while. Everyone should.
Eventually we continued on the 3.4-mile Coastal Trail, which included wooded trails, open fields, and plenty of gaps in the trees to look out onto the water. (There’s also a small cobble beach at Black Point Cove that’s normally accessible via a log ladder, but the ladder was no where to be seen during our visit.)
The hiking here includes the 2.8-mile hike out to the promontory and back, the 5.5-mile Black Point Brook Loop, and the 9.2-mile Fairy Head Loop. We stuck to the Coastal Trail, which was easy to moderate, but the loop trails are rated as difficult, so choose your course accordingly!
You can camp here, too. Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land has three remote tent sites at Fairy Head (about a 4 or 4.5-mile hike, depending on which trail you take to get there) and are first come, first served, with no reservations –
For the car campers, there’s aforementioned Cobscook Bay State Park, 22 miles away. It’s a fine pairing.
Cobscook has 106 campsites, many of which are situated on the Whiting Bay. Our site overlooked the smaller Broad Cove. And while we had neighbors on one side and a family on the other side of the cove, whose voices carried over the water at times, there was plenty of privacy and a decent sense of solitude. Wendy and I agreed that this was one of the best-looking state park campsites we’d ever seen.
There are also a couple of short trails in Cobscook Bay State Park, which would be great for bird-watchers or families with kids.
All in all, I recall this weekend not as “that time everything went wrong,” but as the time everything went right. My only regret is not getting there sooner.
Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land
Route 191, Cutler
12,334-acre expanse of a variety of ecosystems including 4.5 miles of headlands overlooking the Bay of Fundy. No fee, pets allowed.
See a PDF with the trial map and additional info: www.maine.gov
See the trails: www.mainetrailfinder.com