Cobscook Bay State Park in Edmunds Township near Dennysville is not Everest Base Camp; the local seafood is better.
Ok, it’s also a little lower in elevation and a little more accessible — especially if you’re stuffed in the family car. On the other hand, both places share the distinction of being a base of operations from which adventures abound.
Twelve of Maine’s state parks provide campgrounds that serve as both destinations in and of themselves as well as starting points for regional day trips. With 888 acres, Cobscook Bay State Park exemplifies this attribute. Here, many of the park’s 107 campsites, both for tenting and RVs, border Whiting Bay, a sheltered inlet within the larger Cobscook Bay, known for its dramatic tidal range. Within the park, shoreline and trail explorations open up a world of wonder where the meeting of sea and land stimulate your senses while also supporting diverse marine and terrestrial wildlife.
While the park is a great place to visit and camp, it is even more attractive when you consider the day trips awaiting those who choose to use the park as a “base camp” for exploring easternmost Maine’s tremendous outdoor destinations.
Quoddy Head State Park is found east of Cobscook and can be reached via Route 189 and the South Lubec Road. This stunning, 541-acre park at the tip of America’s easternmost peninsula is home to candy-striped West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in addition to five miles of interconnected trails winding through forest and wetlands with interspersed coastal views. The Bog Trail, a one-mile round trip off the Inland Trail, has a raised boardwalk and interpretive signs telling the story of this unique coastal peat land.
Situated due south of Cobscook Bay State Park, the Cutler Coast Public Lands cater to those who like their coastlines wild. Ten miles of trails, three remote tent sites and spectacular views from the property’s steep cliffs await hikers in this undeveloped stretch of shoreline, part of the aptly named “Bold Coast.” Like nearly all public land units managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, there is an element of self-reliance required on the trails here – so don’t expect level, manicured trails. Do expect, however, traditional hiking paths leading to truly inspiring vistas and the occasional marine mammal sighting.
Shackford Head State Park encompasses 90 acres on Moose Island and overlooks the entrance to Cobscook Bay. Close to downtown Eastport, the easternmost city in the United States, Shackford Head provide several miles of hiking trails crossing a rocky headland 173 feet above sea level. The trails pass several pocket beaches and protected coves. Visitors can take in the magnificent vistas where two nations and one stunning bay meet.
With 11,000 acres of woodlands and wetlands bordering three lakes near East Machias, the Rocky Lake Public Lands is a potential side-trip from Cobscook Bay State Park. This multi-use forest provides opportunities for boating, camping and fishing in a wildlife-rich setting. The property includes four miles along the upper reaches of the East Machias River, a paddling destination that supports sea-run Atlantic salmon.
Roque Bluffs State Park, which has 274 acres, provides visitors with a slightly different coastal landscape than Cobscook Bay, yet the two are close enough to enjoy on one vacation. Located south of Machias on Schoppee Point, the park boasts a beautiful, half-mile crescent of sand and pebbles along Englishman Bay. This beach is backed by the shallow waters of 60-acre Simpson Pond. There are facilities for picnicking as well as a playground for children. The 6-mile-long trail network leads through old orchards, fields and woods, with paths that follow the rocky shores of Great Cove and Pond Cove.
Cobscook Bay State Park is but one of the campground parks managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. Like its counterparts, it is a great base camp at which to stay and from which to explore. Using Cobscook Bay State Park as the centerpiece of an outdoors-oriented vacation is a great way to see Washington County and its tremendous natural destinations.
Remember, though, you can just come and stay right in the park too – after all, it’s your vacation!