Towards the very northeastern corner of Maine's coastline is the famed Cutler Coast. This stretch of coastline has some of Maine's highest cliffs and has abundant hiking opportunities. It is also free of charge because it is a part of Maine's Public Reserve Lands.
|The spectacular coastline of the Cutler Coast|
People who know me say I use too many superlatives to describe all of the places I go. I doubt it comes to anyone's surprise that I would continue to do so on my blog. This probably will end up in a diluted pile of my "best of" posts but I know I'm not the only person in Maine who thinks the Cutler Coast is simply the best. I read about the Cutler Coast in Your Maine Lands: Reflections of a Maine Guide
, by renowned Maine Guide Tom Hanrahan. He wrote about a three-day bobcat hunt in January which took place at this location. Even the bitter wind and cold couldn't keep him from describing it as serene and magical. Anyone else who's hiked the Cutler Coast would have a similar report.
Getting there is half the fun- its located in the far northeast corner of Maine's Coast and most of the drive is on country roads. Nevertheless, people drive from all over New England and Canada to hike here. When I pulled up, I saw license plates from 5 different states and 3 Canadian Provinces. (Map and Directions
) Please be aware that there are absolutely no services at or near the parking area save for a few pit toilets.
Here is an excellent hiking map of the Cutler Coast
|Maine's Bold Coast|
The Cutler Coast is part of the larger "Bold Coast" which stretches from Machias to Lubec and the Canadian border. This is the only stretch of Maine I was unable to kayak on my last trip because steep cliffs and erratic currents made for few places to land and set up camp. The 30 miles of cliffs do make for excellent hiking as it is in this case
This public reserve land has several options for trails and the best way to see everything is to take the 9 mile loop. Starting at the only parking lot, the trail
heads almost directly towards the ocean. It reaches a junction 0.4 miles in, continue straight to get to the overlook. Its another mile from this point to the ocean.
Many people decide to just hike to the first overlook and back; this is perfectly acceptable for a nice 1-2 hour hike if that's what you're looking for. The first overlook was the most spectacular of all the overlooks I saw. It was easy to waste an hour just watching the powerful currents crash into the cliffs. I wish I could capture that sound and bring it back home with me.
|View from the overlook, Cutler Coast|
From here, you can head southwest on the main trail as it hugs the cliffs. The views aren't abundant throughout this section but occasionally there are little "windows" where you can look out over the ocean or catch a glimpse of Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. The trail runs through a thick woods which feels like a rain-forest Bring plenty of bug repellent and high socks- there's enough ticks and poison ivy to ruin your next day. There were some frustratingly overgrown sections of the trail but various viewpoints made the trip worth it
|Windows in the foliage provide excellent views |
In about 1.4 miles from the original overlook, the trail dips down to the shoreline and to another junction. The shoreline is a nice place to grab a snack and although it is not as dramatic as the last section, its still wonderful Maine beach devoid of people. You can decide to cut your hike off early by heading right on the Black Point cut off trail. If you take this trail, it will link up with the inland trail and head back to the parking lot in 2.7 miles, making the whole hike 5.5 miles. If you continue on the Coastal Trail, it will wrap around the coast and come back through the inland trail, adding an additional 4.5 miles to the trip. This makes the total distance of the full coastal trail loop about 9.2 miles.
Continuing on the Coastal Trail will bring you to three campsites overlooking the ocean. They are limited tent-sites with no services but I imagine the sunrise from these sites is worth the trip.
|More cliffs of the Cutler Coast|
|Hiking the Inland Trail, Cutler Coast|
|Classic Maine "beach"|
Of course, pictures do the place no justice but I hope you can see why most anyone who's hike the Cutler Coast would say its the best seaside hike in the state. Its a long drive to get there, but then again, you would see almost the entire coast of Maine to get there, which is part of the adventure.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!