Rock formations in an unnamed cove.
Photo by Ryan Linn
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A Bold Hike at Cutler Coast

I’d venture to say that most hikers who come to visit Maine have never heard of the Cutler Coast. Their loss. This was one of the most wonderful hikes I’ve been on.

Ryan Linn       Trip Report       05/11/2015
Ryan Linn
Trip Report
05/11/2015

Last week I had an opportunity to visit a place that is often regarded as one of the highlights of Maine’s public lands. It wasn’t Acadia, with the National Park and massive tourism infrastructure. It wasn’t Baxter State Park, with the state’s high point and the end of the Appalachian Trail. It wasn’t even within a hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail.

I’d venture to say that most hikers who come to visit Maine have never heard of the Cutler Coast. Their loss. This was one of the most wonderful hikes I’ve been on.

A map of the trail system at Maine's Cutler Coast.
Cutler Coast’s trail system. The red dot on the inset shows the location of the trail area.
Map by Ryan Linn

Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land is part of the Bold Coast region, which is the easternmost part of the Maine coast near New Brunswick. The Public Reserved Land unit was created 25 years ago and seems to have quickly become a poster-child for the system.

In almost all of the recent news articles about the Public Reserved Land system in Maine, Cutler is one of the two land units mentioned as examples, the other being the Bigelow Range, which any Appalachian Trail hiker will tell you is one of the finest places on the AT.

Both of these preserves have deep, primeval forests, and relatively quiet hiking trails, but while the Bigelows showcase some of the best that Maine’s inland mountains and lakes have to offer, Cutler shows off the beauty of the rugged coastline.

A blue lake sits among a deciduous forest.
The Inland Trail passes beaver ponds and grassy wetlands as well as the dense forest.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Two hikers climb a mossy, rocky outcropping.
Rugged inland terrain.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A blue lake sits among a deciduous forest.
The Inland Trail passes beaver ponds and grassy wetlands as well as the dense forest.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Two hikers climb a mossy, rocky outcropping.
Rugged inland terrain.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A wooden walkway cuts through a mossy swamp and forest.
Primeval forests of Northern Maine.
Photo by Ryan Linn

My friends, Angela and Ryan (yes, another Ryan), took a vacation to Acadia last week and finished the trip by heading to Cutler for a one-night backpacking trip. I’d been excited to see this area for years, so I jumped at the opportunity, even though it meant driving 4.5 hours each way for a ten mile hike.

A wooden walkway cuts through a mossy swamp and forest.

My friends, Angela and Ryan (yes, another Ryan), took a vacation to Acadia last week and finished the trip by heading to Cutler for a one-night backpacking trip. I’d been excited to see this area for years, so I jumped at the opportunity, even though it meant driving 4.5 hours each way for a ten mile hike.

Primeval forests of Northern Maine.
Photo by Ryan Linn

So after driving to what many people would consider the end of the world, and then continuing two more hours into the land of blueberry fields (according to Wikipedia, Maine produces 25% of all blueberries in North America, and most of them are from right here in Washington County), we arrived at a very well-maintained trailhead and began our hike.

Day one consisted of the Inland Trail portion of the loop, walking through deep forest and along coastal marshlands.

It’s still early spring here, so the leaves were missing and the grass was brown, but that barely diminished the beauty in the area. And even though the trail walks along coastal terrain with no mountains, this was no easy walking– Maine’s forest floor is a jumble of rocks, roots, and moss, keeping you on your toes even in the flattest terrain.

We arrived at the three campsites on Fairy Head, all totally deserted on this mid-week evening, and chose what I think is the easternmost backcountry campsite in the continental US.

Each of the campsites here looks out over the Bay of Fundy, the ocean crashing against the rocks just below. We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean, with a cool breeze coming off the sea. In the morning, I listened to loons and lobster boats in the pre-dawn hour, then watched the sun rise while I rested under my tarp. I haven’t had such a restful sleep in months.

A sunrise glows over a rocky coastline and calm ocean waters.
Sunrise over Grand Manan from our campsite.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A pink sunrise appears over a rocky coastline and blue ocean waters.
Sunrise striking the Bold Coast.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A sunrise glows over a rocky coastline and calm ocean waters.
Sunrise over Grand Manan from our campsite.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A pink sunrise appears over a rocky coastline and blue ocean waters.
Sunrise striking the Bold Coast.
Photo by Ryan Linn

After a long and leisurely time breaking camp, we walked the Coastal Trail. Again, it was only a short hike on “flat” terrain, but we barely broke one mile per hour. The jagged rocks of the coast require plenty of concentration to walk along without hurting yourself, but the sheer abundance of scenery slowed us down just as much.

Cobblestone beaches, sixty-foot cliffs down to the crashing waves, jagged rock formations rising out of the water– we all agreed we could spend weeks here without getting bored.

I’ll let the pictures do the last of the talking, but first I’ll leave you with this thought– Maine’s Public Reserved Lands are managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands, which is in danger of being dissolved and the lands given over to an agency primarily devoted to logging rather than a mix of logging and recreation, entirely because of heavy-handed politics. The reaction to this plan from both sides of the political spectrum has been resoundingly negative, showing just how beloved the agency and the land it manages is to Mainers.

I’ve written about this, and I’ll continue to update that post as the story progresses. Let this serve as a reminder, wherever you are, the public lands that are a benefit to all of us are also in need of constant protection. Visit them often, love them, and take care of them.

A rocky beach on Maine's Cutler Coast.
Cobblestone beach at Black Point Cove.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Blue skies and water meet a rocky coastline.
Ryan standing on the cliffs next to our campsite.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A rocky beach on Maine's Cutler Coast.
Cobblestone beach at Black Point Cove.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Blue skies and water meet a rocky coastline.
Ryan standing on the cliffs next to our campsite.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Two hikers stand on massive boulders on Maine's rocky coast.
The trail along the coast.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A hiker stands on a rocky beach looking out at blue water and blue sky.
Hiking through another cobblestone beach at Long Point Cove.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Two hikers stand on massive boulders on Maine's rocky coast.
The trail along the coast.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A hiker stands on a rocky beach looking out at blue water and blue sky.
Hiking through another cobblestone beach at Long Point Cove.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A view from cliffs shows a rocky beach, blue water, and a dense forest.
After leaving Black Point Cove, we climb the cliffs over it.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Teal ocean water meets prominent rocky cliffs on Maine's coastline.
More clifftop walking over coves and ocean.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A view from cliffs shows a rocky beach, blue water, and a dense forest.
After leaving Black Point Cove, we climb the cliffs over it.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Teal ocean water meets prominent rocky cliffs on Maine's coastline.
More clifftop walking over coves and ocean.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A view through trees on a cliff shows a small rocky beach surrounded by imposing cliffs.
Many inaccessible coves at the bottom of high cliffs.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Rocky coastal cliffs give way to blue ocean water and a dense forest.
The closest overlook to the parking area, with dizzying drops on either side into the ocean.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A view through trees on a cliff shows a small rocky beach surrounded by imposing cliffs.
Many inaccessible coves at the bottom of high cliffs.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Rocky coastal cliffs give way to blue ocean water and a dense forest.
The closest overlook to the parking area, with dizzying drops on either side into the ocean.
Photo by Ryan Linn

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Baxter State Park, Maine
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New England Hiker

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About the Author
A man wears a blue shirt, blue backpack, and a tan baseball cap.

Ryan Linn

Ryan is also known as “Guthook”, which is where our apps get their name. Already an avid hiker, he hiked the Appalachian Trail, New England Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail before joining forces with Paul to create the Guthook Guides apps. Ryan handles iOS development for our apps from his office in Maine, and usually runs away to the forests and mountains throughout New England. He also volunteers with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Baxter State Park in Maine is his happy place.