Downeast Adventure

August 8, 2021  |  Cutler, Maine

This past weekend, I had planned to head down east to Lubec, Maine, and take a puffin tour to Machias Seal Island, where these adorable seabirds nest during the summer. This was my second attempt. Spots for the season are very limited and reservations for the entire summer are typically gone within three days of being made available. My reservation last year was canceled due to COVID-19. This year, Mother Nature decided it would not happen, as the day of my trip, the weather called for 20 knot winds and seas as high as six feet. Much too rough for a boat the size of which we would be taking. So... I opted for an alternative adventure instead.

The foggy view from the Cutler Coast Trail in down east Maine on a summer morning.

The Cutler Coast

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The rugged Bold Coast near Cutler, Maine, on a summer morning as a light fog rolls in.

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My wife Jess and I decided to try the Cutler Coast trail, part of the Cutler Coast Preserved Lands, 12,234 acres of untouched Maine wilderness that includes headlands, peatlands, woodlands, and blueberry barrens. The trail guide AllTrails promised some incredible views of the Bold Coast of Maine, similar to what you see above in my image "The Cutler Coast".

AllTrails also rated the trail as "moderate". This typically means that it's not a flat walk, it may be rocky, there may be some climbing, with an elevation gain over 1000 feet or more. I knew going in that AllTrails lists the trail at 11.1 miles. The elevation gain during the hike is a total of 1100 feet, give or take. The first 3 miles, I might have agreed with the "moderate" rating, but as Jess and I continued to hike the loop, we discovered that "moderate" might be too light a word to describe the hike.

Jess taking a break on the trail, and Rick setting up to capture
Jess taking a break on the trail, and Rick setting up to capture "The Cutler Coast"

The weather was supposed to be in the 70's, so not too hot, but it turned out to be very humid, which made things a bit harder. Once we hit the coastline, which is about 4.5 miles of the trail, there was a lot more climbing up and down, and due to recent rains, the trail was incredibly muddy, making things a bit more difficult. We also found the trail to be pretty poorly maintained, with boardwalks and bridges rotted or missing, brush overgrowing and obscuring the trail, and trail markers obscured or missing.

Despite the difficulties, the views were amazing, and the fog that sat just off the coast occasionally blew in over the cliffs, acting as a natural air conditioner. It was incredible to feel the air chill by 10 to 15 degrees instantly! As the hike dragged on, we tired pretty considerably, and my legs began to cramp. This was easily the most difficult hike I've done the past few years. We were able to find some wild blueberries and snack on those a bit, and finally made it back to the car, 9 hours after we'd started! It was a great day with my sweetie, and while at times the hike was a miserable slog, at others it was incredible. It may not have been puffins, and it certainly wasn't as easy as a boat ride, but it was worth it!