A hike through the Western Head Preserve at Cutler is an adventure on two levels with a dual reward: the forest and the sea.
The 3.5-mile trail begins in a pasture alongside the Little River, where crown vetch, wild iris and daisies wave in the coastal breeze. The temperature is about 10 degrees cooler than the mainland and the trail provides a sanctuary on a hot summer day.
The trail quickly dips into the spruce and fir forest, where the pasture’s wildflowers are replaced with thick mosses, lichens, mats of black crowberry and wild cranberry.
The trail is easy to follow, clear and safe, with a nice diversity of up and down.
At Western Head Preserve, 247 acres earmarked to become a housing development were purchased in 1988 by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The trail is actually a road left over from 1846, when cattle ranged on the headland in a village called Flaggtown.
The first section of the trail pops out of the woods at Flaggtown Beach, which provides a wonderful view of Little River Island and, looking backwards, the fishing village of Cutler.
Continuing on around Western Head, even more spectacular views of the Bold Coast and the Little River Lighthouse appear as the trail is perched on massive cliffs.
The entire trail, taken at a leisurely pace, should take less than an hour and a half.
Getting There: The Western Head Preserve is located 12.3 miles from U.S. Route 1. Take Rt. 191 from East Machias until just before Cutler Village. Turn right on Destiny Bay Road. The road will wind around the cove and turn from pavement to gravel. A marked parking lot is near the end of the road on the right. Follow the sign to the trailhead. The preserve is open from dawn to dusk.