Places to Stop on the
Bold Coast National Scenic Byway


The Bold Coast National Scenic Byway, one of the newest of Maine’s nationally-designated scenic byways, stretches for 125 miles through the Downeast region from the town of Milbridge all the way to the Canadian border and the town of Lubec, and then curves up to Eastport around Cobscook Bay.

The Bold Coast National Scenic Byway passes by wild blueberry barrens that present as fields of blue in August and bright crimson in autumn, as well as farms, tidal marshes, historic downtowns, and charming fishing villages. You can even see the nation’s first sunrise at the red and white candy-striped lighthouse at West Quoddy Head in Lubec.

Lupines along the river in Machias

You will probably want to take two to four days to explore Maine’s Bold Coast along the Bold Coast National Scenic Byway. If you are starting out from the Schoodic Peninsula, try spending a night in Milbridge or one to two nights in Machias. In Machias, I’d recommend the Inn at Schoppee Farm, which has a handful of rooms decorated in modern farmhouse style and located right on the river and the Down East Sunrise Trail, which is used for biking, hiking, ATVing, and snowmobiling.

Next, stay a night or two in Lubec, the easternmost town in the United States. Cohill’s Inn has a perfect location in downtown Lubec. The town itself is quite charming and when the Canadian border is open, you can also visit Campobello Island, home to the summer house of the Roosevelts. From Lubec you can take Highway 1 up and around Cobscook Bay to Eastport for the last section of the Bold Coast National Scenic Byway.


McClellan Park water view with picnic table on rocks
McClellan Park picnic area

There are many places to take walks or hikes and enjoy the outdoors in and around the town of Milbridge. Right in town, Milbridge Commons is a beautiful town park with a community garden and views of the water. It is a perfect spot to stretch your legs.

For a longer walk or hike, visit the Petit Manan/ Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge and take a hike on the Hollingsworth Trail. This trail covers both woodlands and rocky coast, with a view of the Petit Manan Lighthouse. I’d highly recommend organizing a guided hike or paddle with Hazel from Maine Outdoor School. An excellent outdoor educator, Hazel can fill you in on the local plants and wildlife and talk to you about the environment and geology.

For more sweeping views, take the 1.2 mile trail up to the top of Pigeon Hill off Pigeon Hill Road. It only has a 317 foot elevation, but on a clear day you can see all the way over to Acadia National Park.

Pick up a picnic lunch from The Meadows Take Out and head down to McClellan Park. Follow the trail out to the rocks overlooking the bay for the best picnic views around. You can easily spend the afternoon hanging out on the rocks and soaking in the view.

Another great option in Milbridge on a nice day is to take a puffin viewing cruise with Robertson Sea Tours and Adventures. This two-and-a-half hour cruise brings you around Petit Manan Island, part of the national wildlife refuge and home to Petit Manan Lighthouse. The island is a sanctuary for hundreds of seabirds including the Atlantic Puffin from mid-May through mid-August. You may also spy Common, Artic, and Roseate Terns; Razorbills; Black Guillemots; Common Eiders; Leach’s Storm-petrel; and Laughing, Herring, & Black-back Gulls.


The historic town of Cherryfield calls itself “The Blueberry Capital of the World,” and is home to Wyman’s of Maine. You can explore the small downtown or take a walk along the Narraguagus River. The Cherryfield Historical Society also provides a downloadable walking tour to explore the downtown with its antique and gift shops, along with spots for picnicking and fishing along the river.

Columbia Falls

Wild Blueberry Land

Driving along the Bold Coast National Scenic Byway, it is hard to miss the giant blueberry-shaped buildings of Wild Blueberry Land. It wasn’t open when I visited, but usually you can pick up baked goods and other blueberry-themed gifts and foods, which come fresh from the shopkeepers’ farm. If you visit in late August (cancelled for 2021), you may be there during the annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival.

In Columbia Falls you can also find the Wreaths Across America Museum, known for its annual donation of wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. The Downeast Salmon Federation is also a stop on the Downeast Fisheries Trail, offering information and education about wild Atlantic Salmon and host of the annual Smelt Fry in the spring.


Jonesport is a traditional fishing village and you can watch the fishermen work in the small cove off Hopkins Beach or from the public boat launch near the historical society. From Jonesport, you can cross the bridge to Beals Island, another fishing community, and Great Wass Island beyond.

Great Wass Island Preserve has a 4.5 mile trail through forest and wetlands. These trails provide spectacular cliff-top views over the islands of Eastern Bay. The island juts out further into the Atlantic than any other land mass in Eastern Maine.


Bad Little Falls in Machias
Bad Little Falls in Machias

On your way to Machias, you may want to stop in Jonesboro at the Hatch Knoll Farm for fresh goat cheese and related-products. Hatch Knoll even offers glamping opportunities on property. For a little rest and relaxation, spend an afternoon at Roque Bluffs State Park with hiking trails, a picnic area and freshwater pond, and a beach for swimming.

Machias is famous for its role in the Revolutionary War, as it was the site of the first naval battle of the War, the Battle of the Margaretta. Machias is one of the larger towns in the Downeast region, home to the University of Maine at Machias, along with shopping, lodging, and dining establishments, such as Helen’s and Bluebird Ranch Restaurant.

If you are spending time in town, you can also take a guided tour with a town historian, or follow a self-guided historic audio tour. For more outdoor adventure, Machias offers easy access to the Downeast Sunrise multi-use trail.


West Quoddy Head light with woman sitting on picnic table in front

From Machias to Lubec, follow the Bold Coast National Scenic Byway along Route 191 to Cutler. There are a lot of public lands around Cutler for hiking and birding or wildlife viewing including the Western Head Preserve, which has views of the coastline and the Little River Lighthouse.

The Cutler Coast Public Preserve Land trails follow steep cliffs with stunning classic Bold Coast views, while the Bog Brook Cove Preserve is home to wildlife including black bear, bobcat, and fisher cats.

Before heading into town, drive out to the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Of course, some like to arrive here for sunrise to see the first rays of light hitting the United States, so that is definitely an option if you are staying overnight in Lubec. This red and white striped lighthouse is picture perfect and there is a short hiking trail on site.

Downtown you will find a working waterfront, as well as retail shops, restaurants, lodging, museums and galleries. Lubec Brewing Company serves up local food and craft beer, while Cohill’s Pub is known for its craft cocktails.

One stop that can’t be missed is a visit to Monica’s Chocolates, just outside of town. She makes everything, including all the ingredients, in house and this award-winning chocolate is well worth the stop.

You can also explore more of the Bold Coast landscape at the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Cobscook Shores, Hamilton Cove Preserve, and Mowry Beach.

Driving down all these Maine scenic byways gave me plenty of time to reflect on this last year and the changes that lie ahead — a return to “normal” life, the travel business rebounding, and preparing my daughter for her senior year of high school. Throughout the trip, that wind of change swept away some of the fear and anxiety that I had been holding on to. All that time alone and outside let me relax and clear my head, getting myself back in the game and ready for what comes next.

Trip Tools for the
Bold Coast National Scenic Byway