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.

Our campsite at Cobscook Bay State Park. Shannon Bryan photo

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.)

The 1.4-mile trail leading to the promontory with the views of the Bay of Fundy and spectacular Cliffs is wooded and fairly easy going. Wendy Almeida photo

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.

Hydrating with one of the most stupendous views in Maine. Wendy Almeida photo

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.

The cliffs at Cutler Coast Public Land Reserve. Shannon Bryan photo
THOSE VIEWS! Shannon Bryan photo

We loitered here for a long while. Everyone should.

The Coastal Trail at Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land. Shannon Bryan photos

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.)

Culter Coast
Fields of flowers on the Coastal Trail at Culter Coast Public Reserved Land. Wendy Almeida photo
The wooded Coastal Trail. Shannon Bryan photo

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!

Map of the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land. See the PDF with the map and more info

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.

The campsite at Cobscook Bay State Park overlooking Broad Cove. Shannon Bryan photo

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.

Cobscook Bay State park campsite
High tide at Broad Cove. And pie irons! Shannon Bryan photos

There are also a couple of short trails in Cobscook Bay State Park, which would be great for bird-watchers or families with kids.

Cobscook Bay State Park
Fire and water at Cobscook Bay State Park. Wendy Almeida photo

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:
See the trails:

Cobscook Bay State Park

Edmunds Township, Maine
Open all year, $20 camping fee for residents. 106 campsites, many along Whiting Bay.
See the trails: