Maine has a lot of places where, in order to get there, you drive as far as you can, then drive a lot more, pass the final “real city”, drive more, and then finally you arrive. Places where the next area over doesn’t have a name but is merely called “T2R9” in the heart of Maine’s unorganized territories. Those places are rarely visited by outsiders, as people usually make it to Bar Harbor or Portland or any of the other coastal towns Downeast and they don’t get much further. This week we went a little further and discovered one of Maine’s hidden gems in the Cutler Coast Public Lands or, The Bold Coast of Maine.
I’ve set a goal this year to spend at least 60 days in a tent this summer and to say I’m not doing well on that goal is an understatement. As in, I have spent zero days in a tent so far in 2017. Moving and hectic life changes do that to you I guess. In an effort to make some ground up on that goal and because Colleen and I simply love beautiful places and getting out of Bar Harbor for a few days, we made our way east up the coast to a spot I’ve had my eye on for a few years now.
Pretty far from everywhere (2 hours from Bar Harbor or Bangor, 4 hours from Portland), the Cutler Coast has gotten some more attention in recent years as it’s appeared in USA Today, CNN, Backpacker Magazine, and a few other major publications. But even with the increased attention, it’s still rarely visited by tourists or locals.
Sitting on over 12,000 acres of picturesque Maine forest, the Cutler Coast is Public Land owned by the state featuring a dozen miles of hiking trails and three backcountry campsites right on top of the ocean, all for free. I read all that and I started to hear our trail runners and backpacks begin to pack themselves.
Colleen and I have Wednesday’s and Thursday’s off during the week, so we woke up at 8am Wednesday in order to get a good early start towards Cutler. After two separate breakfast stops (somehow achieved during a mere two-hour drive) we pulled into the Cutler Coast parking lot at around 10am.
We opted to take the much more scenic route along the Coastal Trail to get to the tent sites out at Fairy Head, and we really started moving. The tent sites are first come, first serve and I’d be damned if I carried this stupid backpack full of junk multiple miles only to get shut out of the campsites.
However, even the fear of missing out on a campsite couldn’t push us to really move our feet for long. We hit one scenic outlook, then another, then a beautiful little pocket beach, then another, again and again for the entire walk out to Fairy Head. We scrambled down sketchy rockslides to get into insanely beautiful pocket beaches with awe-inspiring blue-green water, we wandered through massive meadows of tall grass and wildflowers, we stood two hundred feet above the ocean on cliff faces and watched waves break impossibly far below us. And the best part is, we didn’t see another soul the whole time.
Finally, after about five miles of up and down coastal hiking, we reached the campsites. Spaced out over about a mile, all three sites offer stunning views set right over the ocean on top of cliffs with the waves meeting the shore a hundred feet below you. I don’t know if I’ve camped in a more unique, or beautiful, spot then out at Fairy Head on the Cutler Coast.
Since we got to the campsites by midday, we had all day to lounge in our hammock, eat mac and cheese, talk about life, read books, and just watch the sun go down. The next day, after a surprisingly chilly night on the ocean, we loaded the bags back up and hit the trail back to the car.
Instead of heading straight back to Bar Harbor, we went a little further east to West Quoddy Head to visit it’s famous candy-cane colored lighthouse and just to say we’ve been to the easternmost part of the country. After a quick detour for ice cream and sweet tea at a local c-store, we finally made it out to West Quoddy Head. Right now we’ve both been to the southernmost and now the easternmost points of the United States, so we’ll have to add the west and north points during our road trip this fall.
Colleen wanted to help write this post, but she’s already napping next to me and I think I’ll do the same. Overall, if you get the chance to visit the Cutler Coast, I would say absolutely do it. I’ll let the pictures talk, but whether it’s just for a day hike or to spend a night on the ocean (for free), it’s worth the drive.