A Spring Trip to a Bold Coast

We were looking for a spring destination, and we found an excellent trip along Maine’s dramatic Bold Coast.

Situated between Milbridge and Calais in Maine is a not-so-hidden gem of public lands along Maine’s Bold Coast. Hidden along the Bold Coast Scenic Byway, the Cutler Coast Public Lands are a fantastic backpacking, hiking, or off-roading destination.

Spring on the Bold Coast is a “can’t miss” adventure, whether you’re a day hiker or a backpacker.

Our Spring Bold Coast Itinerary

Nezzie (my adventurous, 6 year-old daughter) and I started off on the Sunday morning of Patriots Day weekend on the Coastal Trail, a 1.4 mile hike out of a parking lot on Route 191 in the village of Cutler.

Nezzie is surrounded by mossy forest.
Nezzie is surrounded by a forest floor blanketed in moss.

The trails in these public lands are not strenuous, though there are some steep and rocky sections. There are high cliffs that can make it somewhat dangerous for reckless, younger children. In wet conditions, some portions of the coastal trail could be extremely treacherous. Fair warning, too, that in May and June, black flies could be off the hook, especially in the bog-ridden inland sections of Cutler Coast.

One of many stunning views on the Coastal Trail
Steep climbs lead to rewarding views.

Nez still isn’t acclimated to longer trips, or backpack camping, for that matter, so we opted for a shorter trip. We took the Coastal Trail to the Black Point Brook Cutoff trail. The Black Point Campsite sits astride a bluff overlooking Black Point Cove. It has a terrific view, but is only suited for a small tent or hammock pitch. There is a nearby open toilet, which is disgusting but necessary in this high-use area. Our hike still came in just under 7 miles. Not bad for spring on the Bold Coast!

The view from our tent on Black Point
The view from our tent on Black Point

The Inland Trail reroutes around a beaver bog. Still in the throes of mud season, we could not avoid boot-sucking spots on the trail. Long stretches of the trail are on well-tended, elevated planks. The views, though not as dramatic as the coast, are typical Maine. Though we only saw numerous bird species, moose and beaver are not uncommon.

Spring mud makes the Bold Coast fun.
Well-tended boardwalks make the inland portions of this trail significantly better.

Things You Should Know

This trail system is not a place you will find isolation. In spite of being far Down East, the trail is quite popular. If you plan on camping in the backcountry, the sites are first-come, first-serve, and have limited capacity. You should consider a mid-week trip instead of a weekend trip. This April trip still saw the parking lot almost filled to capacity, with backpackers disappointed that we already claimed Black Point.

It’s no surprise to Mainers, but you should be mindful of your cellular service in Cutler Coast Public Lands. I received text message notices from Bell Canada. Lest I incur international roaming charges, I placed my phone in airplane mode.

Additional Reading

Getting There

Most tourists will only come from points south. We take US 1A N out of Bangor, towards Calais, and take ME 9E in Eddington. From there, we travel ME 9 E, head on ME 192 S to Machias, pick up US 1 N until ME 191 S. The trailhead will be on the right after 16 miles.

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