Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on how much of the trail network you choose to explore. Some trail sections travel over forested hills, and some of the side trails leading to the coast are steep. For those looking for an easier walk, the gravel road leading into the preserve turns into a wide grassy trail, and veering off that road, the Holmes Point trail is also grassy and smooth. The preserve features just over 3 miles of trails.
Information: The 180-acre Long Point Preserve, located on a peninsula in Machiasport, features cobblestone beaches, dramatic rocky overlooks of the ocean, beautiful forest trails, an old field and educational displays that offer information about the area’s rich history. Owned and maintained by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the property offers sweeping views of Machias Bay and its outer islands.
The land trust acquired the preserve through the purchase and donation of five separate parcels between 2013 and 2015. It encompasses most of a peninsula that juts out into Machias Bay. Long Point is a prominence at the peninsula’s tip and is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. On the south side of that strip is a large cobble beach on Cottage Cove, and on the north side are productive clam flats. Staircases lead down to both.
The preserve trails form two loops. One forested loop is located between the preserve parking area and Cottage Cove beach, while the second is located beyond the beach, out on Long Point. These loops are connected by East Side Road, which peters out and becomes a wide path surfaced with mowed grass.
The first loop travels through a mossy forest to visit interesting rock formations, boulders and an old rock wall. The second loop, while also forested, leads to several rocky beaches and overlooks of Little Bay and Machias Bay.
The preserve also includes a block of land on Holmes Point, where a short interpretive trail travels through an old field to several views of the ocean and the nearby Cottage Cove beach. This trail includes three detailed educational displays that offer information about the history of the area. Machias Bay is part of the ancestral homeland of the Passamaquoddy, indigenous people of the region. It’s also an area that saw early European exploration and is the site of the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War.
Home to a diversity of habitats, the preserve is a great place for wildlife watching. With its many scenic spots, it’s also ideal for picnicking. And for those interested in plants, there’s quite a variety located throughout the property, including an abundance of wildflowers.
Dogs are permitted if leashed or under strict voice control at all times. Camping and fires are not permitted. Carry out all trash, including human and pet waste and toilet paper. There are no outhouses available. Do not remove any archeological artifacts. And respect the privacy of the preserve’s neighbors.
For more information, visit mcht.org or call Maine Coast Heritage Trust at 207-729-7366 or 207-259-5040.
Personal note: The forecast called for clouds and rain showers throughout much of Maine on July 1, so I chased the sun to the eastern corner of the state. In Machiasport, fog wrapped around the offshore islands and clouds coated much of the sky, but every now and then, the sun would struggle through to light the rocky coastline. With my dog Oreo in tow, I set out to explore Long Point Preserve.
I parked in the first parking area I came to, then walked along the gravel East Side Road for 0.5 mile to enter the conserved land. Along the way, I stopped to watch fishermen digging clams out on Randall Flats, their trucks parked here and there along the expansive beach. Across the road, Oreo waded into a pond and splashed around while I photographed pink and purple flowers of what I believe to be crown vetch and seaside peas.
Small orange and blue butterflies fluttered across the road in front of us as we made our way into the preserve. Over the course of a few hours, we walked every trail on the property. Along the way, we spotted an osprey soaring overhead and a snowshoe hare hopping down the road. I also mistakenly spooked a bald eagle out of an evergreen tree. I was photographing a beautiful orange tree mushroom when I was startled by the whoosh of the raptor’s wings as it launched into the sky right above my head.
It seemed that everywhere I looked, wildflowers were in bloom. I encountered large clusters of white daisies and buttercups. Bright orange hawkweed dotted the meadow on Holmes Point. Pale pink-and-white striped morning glories lined the cobble beach on Cottage Cove. And I frequently enjoyed the sight and scent of wild roses, which I found in bubblegum pink, white and magenta.
Though Oreo is always enthusiastic to be outdoors, I was surprised when he boldly marched into the ocean and was promptly slapped in the face by a salty wave. Undeterred, he charged into it again and again, determined to embrace the life of a sea dog.
We walked out of the preserve to the sweet serenade of two hermit thrushes. A host of afternoon mosquitoes, newly emerged, put pep in our step. Otherwise, I might have lingered, enjoying the beautiful scenery and salty breeze until the sun set.
How to get there: Traveling east on Route 1 in East Machias, take a right on Willow Street across from the fire station. Follow Willow Street for 0.1 mile, then veer right onto Water Street. In 0.2-mile, turn right onto Route 191 (Cutler Road). Follow Route 191 south 1.8 miles, then turn right onto East Side Road. Drive 1.8 miles and the first parking lot will be on the left. This parking lot is appropriate for school buses or those wanting a long walk along the gravel road that enters the preserve. If you’d like to park closer to the trails, continue driving on East Side Road for 0.5 mile, past the beach at Randall Flats, and the second parking lot will be on the left. From there, continue down the road on foot and the first hiking trail will be on your left in 0.2 mile, marked with a sign. You can continue on the road to reach the other trails, including the Holmes Point interpretive trail. A trail map is on display at both parking lots.
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.