Getty Images/500px

Cutler Coast Public Lands

Top choice in Down East

This little-known reserve a few miles northeast of Cutler has hiking trails amid spectacular coastal scenery. If you've visited Acadia National Park and wondered what the shoreline trails would be like without the crowds, this is the place to come. This 12,000-acre expanse encompasses lush forests thick with moss and ferns, blueberry barrens, and jagged headlands overlooking hidden coves and rocky beaches.

The well-marked trail from the starting point is 1.4 miles one-way to the shoreline; from there, the path continues another 3.4 miles before looping inland and returning to the trailhead. Allow seven hours to do the entire 9.2-mile loop or just tackle one stage of it.

Parking for the trailhead is 4 miles northeast of Cutler (and about 21 miles from Machias). There are also five first-come, first-served backcountry campsites scattered along the trail (these are 3 to 5 miles from the trailhead, so pack light!).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Down East attractions

1. Jasper Beach

12.35 MILES

Jasper Beach is a bizarre, mile-long beach consisting entirely of polished, red-hued jasper stones. As the waves wash in, the rocks slide against one…

2. Quoddy Head State Park

12.85 MILES

When the fog's not obscuring the view, the 541-acre Quoddy Head State Park has magnificent scenery. From the parking lot, walk the Coastal Trail, which…

3. West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

12.98 MILES

This photogenic red-and-white striped lighthouse anchors the eastern end of the Quoddy Head State Park, and opens for visits during July and August …

4. Machias Seal Island

13.89 MILES

Around 10 miles off the coast, the barren rocks of Machias Seal Island are home to a colony of so-awkward-they're-cute Atlantic puffins, plus plenty more…

5. Mulholland Gallery

14.12 MILES

This small, one-room gallery stages changing exhibitions throughout the warm months. It's a fine place to discover local arts and artisans (with many…

6. McCurdy Smokehouse Museum

14.13 MILES

On Lubec's main drag, this photogenic wood-and-shingle complex was one of over 40 herring smokehouses operating in the area during the 19th century. Here,…

7. Mulholland Park Lighthouse

14.36 MILES

A favorite spot for seal-watching, the diminutive Mulholland Lighthouse was built in 1884 to guide ships through Lubec Narrows. Next door the Marine…

8. Burnham Tavern

14.94 MILES

History boffins may like to visit the historic tavern (now a museum) where planning for one of the earliest naval engagements of the Revolutionary War…