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Two state parks preserve Down East coastal beauty

Posted June 20, 2012, at 2:31 p.m.
The light gleams from West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, perched above the rugged shore of West Quoddy Head in Lubec.
The light gleams from West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, perched above the rugged shore of West Quoddy Head in Lubec.
A venturesome hiker works her way to the edge of a cliff to peer into a chasm at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec.
A venturesome hiker works her way to the edge of a cliff to peer into a chasm at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec.
Hikers walk along the Coastal Trail at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec.
Hikers walk along the Coastal Trail at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec.

Two state parks only a bay apart offer diverse hiking trails that will introduce visitors to Down East Maine’s rugged eastern coast.

Located on West Quoddy Head in Lubec, Quoddy Head State Park features the barber pole-painted West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, dark gray cliffs overlooking wave-carved rocky beaches, and a rare Arctic upland peat bog. Visitors can hike the trails, spread out a meal at a picnic table overlooking the Grand Manan Channel, or walk the shore beneath the lighthouse when the tide’s right.

From Route 189 in Lubec, turn south on the South Lubec Road and drive four miles to the park. The South Lubec Road winds through a populated region before bending 90 degrees to the left (or east) at the intersection with Boot Cove Road; observe the speed limit and drive carefully.

Follow the signs to the park’s gravel parking lot. Primitive restrooms are located here, as are picnic tables, a shore path leading to the famous lighthouse, and the starting points for the park trails.

• The Inland Trail heads west through a typical Down East Maine spruce-fir forest and intersects the Coastal Trail a mile from the parking lot. The roundtrip is 2 miles.

• About halfway along the Indian Trail, the Bog Trail spins off to take visitors to the boardwalk accessing West Quoddy Head Bog. Stay on the boardwalk while exploring the bog. Do not pick any plants. The roundtrip for the Bog Trail is 1.5 miles.

• The Bog Trail intersects the Thompson Trail, which crosses the interior of West Quoddy Head to intersect the Coastal Trail at Carrying Place Cove. The Thompson Trail is 1.25 miles one way.

• For magnificent views, no trail equals the Coastal Trail, which starts at the parking lot and winds along the West Quoddy Head cliffs and headlands. Placed at various points, benches provide places for visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery, including Grand Manan Island on the eastern horizon. The Coastal Trail intersects the Inland Trail and the Thompson Trail and crosses Minzy Field before reaching the South Lubec Road. The roundtrip is 4 miles.

Bring binoculars for watching the sea- and wildlife found on the West Quoddy shores. Be careful along the cliffs; stay on the trail and do not venture onto the cliff edges.

After hiking in the park, visitors should check out West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and the local museum staffed by the West Quoddy Head Lightkeepers’ Association.

Several restaurants are located in Lubec.

Located off the beaten path in Eastport, the 90-acre Shackford Head State Park provides shore and inland hiking opportunities. Visitors enjoy good views of Cobscook Bay and, ironically, “downtown” Lubec only a few miles away. Cobscook Bay separates Eastport and Lubec, and visitors checking out both state parks should allow an hour for driving from one to the other.

From Route 1 in Perry, turn south on Route 190 and drive approximately six miles to the intersection with County Road and East Cove Road. Turn right onto Deep Cove Road, follow the directional signs, and turn left into the parking lot. Primitive restrooms are located here.

Visitors can follow the 0.1-mile Cony Beach Trail to Cony Beach on Broad Cove or take the 0.6-mile Shackford Head Trail southwest across the headland’s interior. Partially a boardwalk, the latter trail provides sole access to the park’s other trails:

• At approximately 0.1 miles along the Shackford Head Trail, the 1.1-mile Schooner Trail splits west to reach the Deep Cove shore and then parallels the shore before again intersecting the Shackford Head Trail. Visitors will encounter good views of Cobscook Bay from the Schooner Overlook on the headland’s southwestern edge. East from the overlook, the Schooner Trail briefly splits in two before turning northeast. The trail meanders along high ground in this section.

• At 0.3 miles along the Shackford Head Trail, the 200-foot Deep Cove Trail drops west toward the shore to intersect with the Schooner Trail, and the 0.1-mile Broad Cove Trail drops east through the forest to reach Broad Cove.

• The Shackford Head Trail ends at a four-way intersection with the Overlook Trail, the Schooner Trail, and the Ship Point Trail. The 250-foot Overlook Trail leads to the Shackford Head Overlook, which offers good views east toward Campobello Island. The 0.4-mile (roundtrip) Ship Point Trail drops southeast to Ship Point, from which visitors also enjoy good easterly and southerly views.

Several restaurants are located along Water Street in Eastport. While downtown, check out the local shops.

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