Hiking in the Bold Coast of Maine

The Bold Coast features a diversity of hiking options, from cliff-side coastal trails to meanders through forests and fields, up small but steep mountains, and along inland waterways.

Long, narrow peninsulas and coves shape the Bold Coast shoreline, and the coastal forests are thick with trees, ferns, and moss. Ancient glacial forces created a system of interconnected inland waterways, a vast plateau of wild blueberry barrens, and a range of coastal and inland mountains. Together these landscape features make for a diversity of hiking options, from cliff-side coastal trails to meanders through forests and fields, up small but steep mountains, and along inland waterways.

Here are a few of our favorite places for hiking on the Bold Coast:

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge: One of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges, the Moosehorn offers over 50 miles of dirt roads and trails between Edmunds and Calais for hiking and biking, 3 self-guided interpretive trails, and opportunities to tour with wildlife biologists. Located in the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge is an incredible location for wildlife watching, especially migratory birds.

Shackford Head State Park: A diverse trail system on 90 acres, from easy walks to challenging terrain atop bold cliffs. Good beach access and fantastic views of Cobscook Bay and surrounding peninsulas. Great care should be taken when exploring these beaches because of the tides that fluctuate 20 feet in a short amount of time. Trails near the parking area provide some access for wheelchairs but the entire trail network is not handicap accessible.

Hamilton Cove Preserve:  A 1,225-acre preserve with some of Maine’s most remote and wild terrain – cobble beaches, sheer cliffs and rocky promontories.  More than 25 different types of plant communities thrive at Hamilton Cove.  The preserve’s diverse habitats support numerous migratory and resident birds including bald eagles.

Roosevelt Campobello International Park: Located on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, this international park features President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s summer home, and celebrates the friendship between Canada and the United States.  The park includes 2,800-acres with trails winding through beaches, bogs, forests, and ocean headlands (passports required).

Quoddy Head State Park:  A 541-acre park situated on the easternmost point of the United States, with 5 acres of trail winding through forests, bogs, and along the steep rocky coastline. Location of West Quoddy Head Lighthouse.

Cutler Coast Public Preserve Land: This trail system offers choices of a 5- or 10-mile loop trail traversing steep cliffs with stunning views over hidden coves and immense ocean vistas. An interior trail winds through mossy woods, grasslands, blueberry fields, and bogs. Several primitive campsites are maintained at Fairy Beach.

Bog Brook Cove Preserve: This preserve is characterized by 1,780 acres of rocky knolls separated by gently sloping ground, swampy flats, wet meadows, and small brooks.   The diverse habitat is home to a great variety of wildlife, including black bear, bobcat, and fisher. Visitors to Bog Brook Cove have documented sightings of two birds rarely seen in Maine, the yellow rail and upland sandpiper.

Western Head Preserve: The 3.5 mile trail begins alongside the Little River and winds through pasture and forest to the edge of the sea at Flaggtown Beach, with views of Little River Island and the fishing village of Cutler. Spectacular views of the Little River Lighthouse appear from parts of the trail.

Machias River Preserve: With 900 acres of forestland and 3.5 miles of river frontage near the Downeast Sunrise Trail, this preserve is great for snowshoeing, picnicking, botanizing, and hiking.

Roque Bluffs State Park:  A 274-acre park with miles of woodland hiking trails, cliffs and rocky shores to explore, a picnic area with grills, playground, and pebbled beach perfect for swimming, beach-combing, paddling – and kids.

Great Wass Island Preserve:  A 1,540-acre tract with 4.5 miles of trails through moss-floored forests, traversing open ledges. Skirts the shoreline with spectacular views of the islands of Eastern Bay.

Frank E. Woodworth Preserve:  A 1.8-mile loop trail through moss-carpeted woodlands, with a mixed forest containing trees more than a century old. The trail emerges at the shoreline overlooking the upper reaches of Pleasant Bay. Several tidal rivers converge off Ripley Neck in Addison, and support a wide array of shorebirds and waterfowl.

Ingersoll Point Preserve: Over 3 miles of forest trails on 145 acres overlooks Carrying Place Cove and Wohoa Bay.

Pigeon Hill: Spectacular panoramic ocean views toward Cadillac Mountain and over myriad islands await you at the top of this 1.8 mile-trail. The summit of Pigeon Hill is a great spot to view fall foliage as expanses of forests glow with color around Schoodic and Black Mountains.

Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge:  Spanning a total of 8,200 acres in three towns, trails wind through pine forests, peat lands, blueberry barrens, marshes, cedar swamps, granite shores, and cobblestone beaches.

Tunk Mountain: The Tunk Mountain and Hidden Ponds Trails provide a combined mountain hike and pond loop of 4.4 miles of diverse terrain, from wooded hills to steep granite cliffs. Views from the top of the mountain are unparalleled in the region.

Schoodic Mountain: The bald granite dome top of Schoodic Mountain provides dramatic 360-degree views over Frenchman Bay and Mount Desert Island. Schoodic Beach, at the base of the mountain, makes every muscle ache of this steep hike worthwhile.

Catherine Hill: The bald granite top of Catherine Mountain offers spectacular views of Mount Desert Island, and the surrounding wilderness filled with lakes and ponds. Catherine’s Hill is the setting of a local legend about a headless ghost (based on some truth!).

Caribou Loop and Black Mountain trails: A trail system between Catherine Hill and Schoodic Mountain that can be combined for several days of backcountry hiking.

Frances Wood Preserve: 438 wooded acres with a 1.5-mile loop trail past streams and bogs that support deer, beaver and bobcats, warblers, and abundant wildflowers.

Corea Heath: 600-acres of wetlands and uplands provides habitat for numerous birds and rare and unusual plants. The wooded trail forms a 1.25-mile loop past bogs and beaver dams.  Bird watching in this preserve can be outstanding.

Schoodic section of Acadia National Park offers numerous short walks along the rugged coastline. Buck Cove Mountain Trail, a moderate 3.2-mile hike, begins near the Schoodic Woods Campground and heads up the north face of Schoodic Head.