DOWN EAST MAINE — No doubt you have felt cooped up, sheltering in place due to COVID-19 restrictions, and perhaps going a bit stir crazy. You're not alone. TAPinto took a trip to hike Down East Maine, the part of the state that includes Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. But instead of frequenting crowded trails, less populated areas were sought out.
Schoodic Head — 1.9-miles, moderate
You may think Acadia National Park is strictly located on Mount Desert Island. That is not the case. Travel towards Gouldsboro on Route 1, and turn right on Route 186 towards Winter Harbor, to enjoy the Schoodic Peninsula part of the park. Just like on MDI, you will need a park pass, accessible at the ranger station.
Continuing into the park, the road becomes one-way after Frazer Point. Stop to snap some photos of the Winter Harbor Light on Mark Island (yours for a cool $2.3 million). And if you know where to look, there is a pull-out on the left side to park and marvel at Raven's Nest.
After you have your fill of the breathtaking views here, drive to Blueberry Hill parking area. Walk across the park loop road to access the Anvil Trail, a 0.8-mile hike straight up to Schoodic Head (440-ft). You will not have clear views of the ocean on this leg of the hike, except for a break at the overlook, but you're treated to cooler temperatures in the forest as you climb the rocky, and sometimes steep trail. It is well-marked with blue blazes, and blue bird markers that make you think of the Twitter logo.
You will walk out from the forested trail, climbing bedrock under open air to reach the summit. There is a large rock to rest upon, to catch your breath, before you descend the Schoodic Head Trail. This leg includes planks over soggy areas and steps built into the mountainside. It's a bit daunting, and without hiking poles, your instinct will be to grab large boulder edges as you navigate tree roots and slippery rocks.
Exiting this part of the trail, you hop on the 0.6-mile Alder Trail, a relatively flat walk back to the parking area. End your hike by sitting on the rocks at Blueberry Hill, overlooking Little Moose Island and Schoodic Island.
(Total people seen on trails, all with masks: 9.)
Hollingsworth Trail — 1.8-miles, easy to moderate
Travel Route 1 to Pigeon Hill Road in Steuben. As you head down the peninsula, you will first encounter the Birch Point trail head on the right, and then hit a dirt road. A parking area for the Hollingsworth Trail, a part of the Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge is clearly marked. The day I went, there were K-9 units scouring the blueberry fields — thankfully the dogs were just in training mode!
You have to walk through a blueberry patch to access the trail — in season, you can pick blueberries for personal use. We walked right when we hit the loop part, traversing over bedrock and colorful fall leaves, and continued to an open area overlooking Pigeon Hill Bay. On a clear day, the Petit Manan Island Light can be seen.
The late John W. Hollingsworth Jr., for whom the trail is named, was a noted wildlife photographer, who, along with his wife Karen, photographed more than 400 National Wildlife Refuges.
According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release issued in April 1996, "Hollingsworth's outstanding contributions to the National Wildlife Refuge System also will be recognized by the Interior Department's 'Conservation Service Award', the highest award conferred on members of the private sector."
(Total people seen on trails: two family members walking with me.)
Roque Bluffs State Park
This 274-acre state park in Washington County, south of Machias, overlooks Englishman Bay, and includes a 6-mile trail network. According to the 2010 census, the population is 303, which helps explain why I was the only one on the trails.
I chose to take Houghton's Hill Trail to the Mihill Trail, hugging the rocky shores of Great Cove and Pond Cove. The forest floor was covered in moss and lichen, and the paths were easy to navigate.
The area includes both a freshwater and saltwater beach.
(Total people seen on trails: zero.)
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