Although it’s not among the larger state parks in Maine, comprising some 90 acres, and it’s not the most easily accessible, sitting as it does on a peninsula near the end of Route 190 on the outskirts of the city of Easport (yup, it’s a city, by charter), Shackford Head State Park is another of those Maine treasures that’s clearly, as we say, “worth the trip.”

We chose it for another of our recent late spring explorations for, I hasten to admit, a second visit since venturing out on its trails several years ago.

On that first visit, when we stood on the 173-foot-high promontory with its panoramic view of Cobscook Bay, we were reminded of what a special place we Mainers are privileged to call home.

There are lots of scenic headlands along our coast, especially as you work your way farther down east, but this one, easily reached with a short hike, should really be on your list of must-do trips for this summer.

Not that it will change much in the years to come, as most of coastal Washington County still feels like a trip back in time, but when you go you’re in for a visual treat that shouldn’t be put off any longer.

Back in 1988, the Eastport Land Trust recommended that the Land for Maine’s Future Board approve the purchase of the property, and the transaction was completed the following year.

The unmanned park, with its stunning views of Cobscook Bay, Deep Cove, Seward Neck and nearby North Lubec, as well as local aquaculture facilities, is now managed and maintained by the Bureau of Parks and Lands. The combination of small secluded coves, pebble beaches and granite cliffs that feature several small caves and natural arches will satisfy nature lovers of all ages.

Three well-marked and well-groomed trails offer some four miles of hiking, portions of which can get a little slippery in the ubiquitous Downeast fog, with about half the peninsula covered with birches, aspen, beech and maple. You’re also likely to spot shorebirds, seabirds, waterfowl and seals basking in the sun or cavorting offshore, and deer and hare also call the park their home.

From the circular parking area you access the trail network in a southerly direction, and you’ll undoubtedly opt for the one-mile round trip directly to Shackford Head for your initial foray, as it offers a great visual reward for only a modicum of exertion.

The Shackford Head Trail, so called, starts out with a flat stretch through a charming hardwood stand and leads to a boardwalk through a shrub area.

Then it features a series of gradual ascents interrupted with restful plateaus through some conifers.

Near the rock-topped promontory at your destination you’ll encounter a steep but short little incline. From this point your panorama includes the town of Lubec, West Quoddy Head, Campobello Island and the striking cliffs on the west side of Grand Manan Island. You’ll also find an interesting Civil War Ships Memorial there.

A fork in the Shackford Head Trail, near the headland itself, marks the Ship Point Trail that adds about a half-mile to the hike and leads all the way down to the shore at the very end of the peninsula.

Your third option is the 1.5-mile round-trip hike on the Schooner Trail that follows the western shoreline of Shackford Head and reconnects to the Shackford Head Trail near the Overlook.

There are a few short side trails: Schooner Point, Broad Cove and Cony Beach that can add even further to your all-day enjoyment of this special Downeast gem of a park.

Trust me … you’re in for a treat.

John Christie is an author and year-round Maine explorer. He and his sons, Josh and Jake, write in Outdoors about places to enjoy the beauty that only Maine has to offer. He can be contacted at:

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