A man using a wheelchair heads down a paved path next to the ocean
Enock Glidden

Enock's Adventures: Downeast Day Two

October 15, 2021 Enock Glidden
Trail Suggestions, Accessibility, Downeast & Acadia, Enock's Adventures

This is a guest post written by Enock Glidden, MTF Accessibility Ambassador, Public Speaker, Adaptive Athlete, and Adventurer. To learn more about Enock, please visit his website.

Quoddy Head State Park

Checking out the lighthouse area at Quoddy Head State Park. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Checking out the lighthouse area at Quoddy Head State Park. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

Day two of our adventures Downeast started at Quoddy Head State Park. I had seen on Maine Trail Finder that they have an accessible trail. I had to check it out of course.  Before embarking on the trail we spent some time taking in the view of the lighthouse and the surrounding area.

If you have an accessible parking plate or placard, there is an accessible parking space right next to the lighthouse. It isn’t completely obvious unless you look around and see a sign after the main parking area. The sign tells you to keep going for accessible parking. I have found that to be an issue at a number of places I have visited. There is accessible parking but the sign indicating where it is located is after the main parking area. I would recommend putting this information at the entrance to the initial parking area to avoid people parking in the wrong place.

Location of accessible parking near the lighthouse. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Location of accessible parking near the lighthouse. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

After enjoying the breathtaking beauty from the lighthouse we set off to find the Coast Guard Trail. This is the description from Maine Trail Finder: “Coast Guard Trail (0.9 miles, easy-moderate, the western half is accessible): The Coast Guard Trail allows easy access to a high cliff overlook typical of the “Bold Coast” with views north across the Lubec Channel to the town of Lubec. This trail was originally used by the lightkeepers when returning from a trip inland to the lighthouse. The western side of this trail is packed gravel and at least 5 feet wide. There are sections with a grade in excess of 12%. It is suitable for motorized wheelchairs. Manual wheelchair users may need some assistance." 

I didn’t think it would be much of a problem since it said manual wheelchair users may need “some” assistance. This was a bit of an understatement. Sandy walked a bit ahead of me and found the trailhead that is closest to the marked accessible parking spot. I thought that would be the most logical place to start. The description says the western half is accessible but I had assistance with me. Wow did I choose wrong, The description should say start from the first trailhead in the main parking area. 

[Ed. Note: We have edited the description to better clarify which part of the trail is accessible and which part is not. If you are ever confused by the description and aren't as willing or able as Enock to experiment about which part of a trail is accessible, click the button that is located at the top of the map in the Trail Map tab on the posting. The accessible trail will highlight. If you have location services turned on, you will see a little blue dot where you are located and you can use that to navigate to the highlighted trail. Learn more about how to use MTF's accessibility functionality.]

Entrance to the accessible portion of the Coast Guard Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Entrance to the accessible portion of the Coast Guard Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Entrance to the non-accessible portion of the Coast Guard Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Entrance to the non-accessible portion of the Coast Guard Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

The eastern side of the trail was mostly uphill from the direction we started. When I say uphill, I mean steep uphill. Sandy struggling to push me with my help. The trail is definitely wide with a very accessible surface. I think the recent rain in that area caused some washouts that need to be fixed. I managed to push myself unassisted through a lot of the sections. 

I definitely would not try the eastern half in a power wheelchair. The steep incline and some side slope seemed to me like it could be dangerous in a power wheelchair. 

Pushing uphill on the eastern half of the Coast Guard Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Pushing uphill on the eastern half of the Coast Guard Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

The trail leads to a magnificent view of the town of Lubec and the surrounding area.  

 There is a fence with a chain used as the rails of the fence.  I really like this design as it forms a safety barrier but it also allows people to have a mostly unobstructed view.  The view is also better from the east side. There is a bench at this spot to rest if needed.

View from the point. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
View from the point. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Safety chains at the point. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Safety chains at the point. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

On a side note, we had a really surreal moment at this spot. As we were sitting there enjoying the view, a juvenile bald eagle floated about 30 feet above our heads. It was perfectly framed in an opening above the trees  Unfortunately and fortunately at the same time, we didn’t get our phones out to take a picture. We were so mesmerized by what we were seeing, we just froze and stared.

Heading back on the western half of the trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Heading back on the western half of the trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

The western half of the trail, which we used to return to the trailhead, is much easier. It is mostly flat with a hard surface. We did have one person tell us this as we were struggling up one of the hills on the eastern side. He was absolutely correct. You should without a doubt start from the main parking lot and turn around at the lookout point. This will give you a 1-mile round trip.

The Rating

I would rate this trail a Just Do It! from the right trailhead. I would just use some caution and make sure you have some assistance just in case. 

Definitely visit Quoddy Head State Park. It is an incredibly beautiful place.

JUST DO IT!:

Most people will be capable of navigating this trail with very little assistance.

Shackford Head State Park

Our next stop for the day was Shackford Head State Park. I chose this property specifically because of the description at MTF. “The interconnected trail system at Shackford Head State Park includes some easy walking trails and some more challenging, uneven terrain (particularly on the Ship Point and Schooner trails). Trails near the parking area provide some access for wheelchairs but the entire trail network is not handicap accessible.”

I actually didn’t end up staying at this park for very long  After arriving we looked around trying to find an accessible trail. Unfortunately what we found was this.

Entrance to trails at Shackford Head State Park. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Entrance to trails at Shackford Head State Park. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Narrow, rooty trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Narrow, rooty trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

Yes, there is a boardwalk which is awesome but it leads to a mostly uphill, root-ridden, soft path. On any other day, I may have tried it but I had other places in mind that I knew were going to be better. I also wanted to only do fully accessible trails on this trip to give people a variety of outdoor adventure options. 

The Beach Trail was not passable either without some major effort and help. You can see in the picture below that it would have been quite an effort to get to the beach. We happened to meet a man that takes care of the park. He was about to do some opening up of the trail and told us we could probably get a few hundred feet to the first overlook with some effort. We decided against it and headed off to the next trail.

[Ed. note: We have updated the posting to better describe the accessible amenities at Shackford Head State Park.]

Trail to the beach. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Trail to the beach. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

Sipayik Trail

Just about 12 minutes away from Shackford Head State Park is the best, most scenic, and fully accessible trail I have ever experienced in Maine. The Sipayik Trail is a property of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and is on the Passamaquoddy Reservation at Pleasant Point, Maine. The funny part is that this trail is not designated accessible on MTF. I decided to try it based on the pictures posted on the website.

[Ed. Note: The Sipayik Trail is now tagged as accessible on MTF.] 

The trail is 1.8 miles one way. If you put the trail name into Google Maps like I did, it will take you to Witay Road by the Sipayik Elementary School. If you want to do the whole trail, this is not the best starting point. It is the halfway point of the trail. The better place to start is at the end of Treatment Plant Road. The parking area is very accessible with accessible parking and fully paved.

At Witay Road, there is a big circular parking area with a dirt ATV path down to the trail. I would definitely park at the end of the trail and start from there.

Parking area off of Treatment Plant Road. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
Parking area off of Treatment Plant Road. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

The trail is completely paved and smooth from one end to the other. It passes through almost every type of natural environments Maine has to offer.  From forest to ocean it ticks all the boxes.

The many ecosystems along the Sipayik Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

We came across an ATV trail that led toward the water. There were not any signs saying not to use it so we decided to check it out. We stayed on the trail and about 0.2 miles later we came to the most breathtaking view at a point called Frost Head.

View over the ocean from Frost Head. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
View over the ocean from Frost Head. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

The Rating

If you are looking for an accessible place near Lubec to get out into nature this is the trail to do it. It is extremely accessible and easy. It passes through stunning scenery. We only saw one other person the entire time. As an out-and-back, it is nearly 4 miles in length which is super long for an accessible trail. This trail is a definite Just Do It! I will return for sure.

JUST DO IT!:

Most people will be capable of navigating this trail with very little assistance.

A tidal river along the Sipayik Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden
A tidal river along the Sipayik Trail. Photo credit: Enock Glidden

All of the places we visited during the day were within 45 minutes of our hotel in Lubec. There are so many places to visit I think we could have stayed a week and not seen everything. Stay tuned for our final day in Downeast Maine.

If you have a different type of mobility issue or a totally different disability and you visit this trail or others, please comment on this post and give us your feedback. The more knowledge we gather and share, the more people we can get outside using the trails of Maine!

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