Quoddy Head State Park & West Quoddy Head Lighthouse
A short spur trip off the Scenic Byway toward Quoddy Head State Park and West Quoddy Head Lighthouse skirts Lubec Channel, providing an open view toward downtown Lubec, Campobello Island, and the International Bridge. Low tide reveals mudflats and clamdiggers at work.
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse sits on the easternmost point of the continental US and welcomes the day’s first rays of sunlight. The red and white striped lighthouse is the only “candy striped” tower in the Nation. During its lifetime the lamp has been illuminated with whale oil, lard oil, kerosene and electricity. Full automation eventually eliminated need for a resident Keeper. The first floor of the lightkeeper’s residence, which housed generations of light-keeping families, is now occupied by a visitor center featuring interactive displays, historic photos and information, and a gallery of local artists.
Lighthouses have lined the Bold Coast for two centuries, and lighthouse keepers have shone their guiding lights and sounded foghorns to bring mariners safely home. Connie Small, “First Lady of Light,” was born in Lubec and spent much of her life living in lighthouses in Maine, including at West Quoddy Head, where her father was a keeper at the Quoddy Head Lifesaving Station. Connie was famous in the lighthouse preservation movement, and wrote “The Lighthouse Keepers Wife,” which describes her life as a lighthouse-keeper. The West Quoddy Head Lightkeepers Association keeps the light of curiosity and wonder alive through connecting visitors and residents with the lighthouse, community of Lubec, and our maritime heritage.
Quoddy Head State Park encompasses most of the Quoddy headlands. The name Quoddy Head means “fertile and beautiful place” in Passamaquoddy. The steep black cliffs formed during the Silurian Age when volcanic magma rose up from the ocean. Park trails traverse these rocky headlands with incredible views over Quoddy Channel to the red cliffs of Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada. The Coastal Trail passes a narrow chasm in an eroded vertical fault, a 150-foot bluff, and a ledge outcropping pounded by surf and wind. Visitors might spot several species of whales; during migration seasons, hundreds of shorebirds congregate at Lubec Flats and Carrying Place Cove. The park contains unusual coastal plateau bogs with sub-arctic and arctic plants rarely seen south of Canada. Carrying Place Cove Bog is a National Natural Landmark. The Coast Guard Trail was originally used by the lightkeepers when returning to the lighthouse from the water. The park includes a large picnic area with tables, grills and privies.
Hours of operations: Tower tours occur during July and August, and on Maine Open Lighthouse Day. The visitor center is open Memorial Day weekend through mid-October; the park is open April-October.
Driving/Signage: West Quoddy Head is 4 miles south of the Scenic Byway. The South Lubec Road turn is well-marked with State Park and Lighthouse signs.
Trails/Skills: Coast Guard Trail is ADA accessible for ½ mile. Most trails are easy to moderate.