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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at

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Posted: June 27, 2018

Let the lighthouses be your guide to coastal Maine hiking

Written by: Carey Kish

A hiker enjoys the freshwater reflecting pool on Tibbetts Trail in La Verna Preserve. Photos by Carey Kish

The geographic expanse of the Maine coast, from Kittery to Lubec, is 230 miles as the crow flies, but an incredible 3,500 miles when every nook and cranny and island is accounted for on the undulating margin of the Gulf of Maine. Hundreds of miles of foot trails lead through a wealth of coastal conservation lands, a hiker’s bounty, good for many pleasant hours of outdoor exploration. Maine’s scenic shores are also dotted with more than 60 classic lighthouses, beacons that have stood watch through storms and sun for a hundred years or more. Combine a great hike with a visit to an iconic lighthouse for a day’s outing you won’t soon forget. Here’s a pairing of six to get you started on the path to summer adventure. Enjoy!


Cape Neddick Light from Sohier Park.

Just northeast of Mount Agamenticus is a peaceful 108-acre conservation property owned by Great Works Regional Land Trust on the side of Kenyon Hill in South Berwick. A 1.1-mile loop trail leads through the mixed forest of big trees, passing numerous old stone walls and several huge granite ledge outcrops en route. Nearby in York, the classic Cape Neddick Light has stood watch at the north end of Long Sands Beach since 1874. Located 100 yards offshore on Nubble Island and not accessible to the public, Nubble Light, as it is known, can be viewed from Sohier Park. Info & maps:


Located at the tip of Fletcher Neck in Biddeford Pool is Maine Audubon’s small but spectacular East Point Sanctuary. A 1.5-mile out-and-back hike leads along the perimeter of the point, through pretty meadows to the shorefront rocks and the pounding surf. Numerous benches along the path provide opportunity for reflection and are great spots to enjoy the big view out over Saco Bay to Wood Island Lighthouse. The 42-foot granite structure, erected in 1838, sits on the eastern edge of the uninhabited 32-acre island, most of which is owned by Maine Audubon. Tours are available. Info & maps:,

Wood Island Lighthouse from East Point Audubon Sanctuary.


For a pleasant 3-mile circuit hike that winds through mature forests and along 3,600 feet of spectacular oceanfront on Muscongus Bay, head to Bristol and the lovely La Verna Preserve, a property of Pemaquid Watershed Association. Linger on the unusual rocks at Leighton Head and don’t miss the freshwater reflection pool. A few miles south, the 79-foot Pemaquid Point Light proudly stands guard, as it has since 1835. There’s a small fee to enter the grounds, which are owned by the town of Bristol and include the tower, a museum, art gallery and learning center. Info & maps:,


The view from Lighthouse Hill on Monhegan Island.

Ten miles off Maine’s midcoast, rugged Monhegan Island is reached by ferry from Port Clyde, New Harbor or Boothbay Harbor. The quaint village is a step back in time, and once beyond its quiet lanes, explore to your heart’s content the impressive backside cliffs and fragrant spruce forests on the meandering 9-mile trail system. Situated atop Lighthouse Hill, the Monhegan Island Light and Museum offer a bird’s-eye view of the little harbor and Manana Island just beyond, as well as an in-depth look at the island’s rich natural and human history. It’s a perfect mid- or post-hike stop. Info & maps:


Bass Harbor Head Light is the only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island.

Leave the summer crowds behind and head to the southwest corner of Mount Desert Island and the park’s Ship Harbor Trail. This fabulously scenic 1-mile, figure-eight hike leads along a tidal inlet and over impressive pink granite ledges to island views at the ocean’s edge. For more, right up the road is the wonderful Wonderland Trail, a nice lollipop loop to Bennet Cove. Nearby Bass Harbor Head Light (1858), the only lighthouse on the island, marks the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. Closed to the public, the tower can be viewed via either of two short trails. Info & maps:


Looking out on the water from Quoddy Head State Park.

Enjoy bold oceanfront cliffs, maritime forests, a beautiful arc of beach and a unique peatland on a hike in Lubec at Quoddy Head State Park, 541 glorious acres on the easternmost peninsula of land in the country. Combine Coastal Trail, Thompson Trail and Bog Trail for a memorable 3.5-mile trek that includes long views across the Bay of Fundy to Canada’s Grand Manan Island. The present lighthouse at West Quoddy Head, colorfully painted with red and white candy stripes, was built in 1858. The former lightkeeper’s house is a now museum preserving the long history of the light station. Small park entrance fee. Info & maps:


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