“The hidden paradise Down East” is a treasure encompassing coastal Maine’s largest stand of jack pine, miles of rugged shore and heaths of national significance.
For challenging yet rewarding hikes, the preserve’s trails don’t disappoint. Plan on a full day’s adventure. Dress suitably and be well prepared for changing weather — and extraordinary beauty.
Here the waters of the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy mix, producing a climate suited to several rare plants and natural communities including the beach-head iris, marsh felwort, blinks and bird’s-eye primrose.
Great Wass, at 5 miles by 1½ miles and 1,700 acres, is the largest island in the Great Wass Archipelago of more than 43 islands. It was acquired by the Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in 1978.
If plant life is not your cup of tea, the wildlife should enthrall you. Osprey, eagles, blue herons and many other bird and duck varieties abound. Harbor seals bask in the sun on the rocky ledges off Cape Cove.
There are four trail options, all beginning at the parking lot:
• Little Cape Point Trail (2 miles) leads through forestland and opens onto one of the preserve’s bogs to the shore at Cape Cove and Little Cape Point.
• Mud Hole Trail (1.5 miles) leads northeast to the edge of fjordlike Mud Hole and spectacular views of the islands of Eastern Bay.
• The loop made by joining Little Cape Point and Mud Hole trails (5 miles).
• Red Head Trail (4.5 miles) follows Little Cape Point Trail to the shore at Cape Cove and then south along the rugged shore. The shore segment is 2½ miles returning by the same route.
Getting there: Take U.S. Route 1 to Route 187 to Jonesport. Cross the bridge to Beals. Go through Beals to Great Wass Island. Bear right, follow the road (it turns to dirt) to Black Duck Cove (about 3 miles from Beals) to a marked parking area on left.