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.
Downeast Maine is one part of the state I have explored very little. I had been to Machias once but that is about it. I grew up about a 3-hour drive from Lubec and had never been. This weekend Sandy and I changed that and spent three amazing days exploring all over the area. I was on the hunt for accessible adventures. WOW did I ever find some really good ones!
Day one was mostly traveling to get to Lubec. I decided to keep it low-key and do a couple of quick-hit adventures along the way. The first accessible trail stop was at Bog Brook Cove - Moose Cove Preserve a property of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Here's the description from the Maine Trail Finder trail page:
"The handicapped-accessible trail at Moose Cove leads 1,100 feet to a spectacular lookout over the cobble beach below and out to the Grand Manan Channel beyond. The surface of the trail is stone dust, and it is six feet wide and level for the entirety of its length. There are stone barriers at the beginning of the trail, but with the opening between them wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs.”
The trail was almost exactly as described on Maine Trail Finder. It isn’t actually level for the entirety. It goes slightly downhill toward the cove and slightly uphill back to the parking lot. It probably isn't noticeable if a person is walking, but it was noticeable pushing my wheelchair. The incline is very minimal and wasn't hard to push on.
[Ed. note: the posting has since been adjusted based on Enock's report.]
In fact, the trail is great. The surface is a bit soft from recent rain and lack of use, I suspect. It is still solid enough to traverse in a wheelchair very easily. I was very impressed by this trail It must have taken a lot of effort and funds to make it this perfect
The end of this trail brings you to Moose Cove and a spectacular view. I could have spent hours there just enjoying the peace and quiet of the ocean breezes and birds.
There is a path down into the cove which I thought about trying. In the interest of not wearing myself out or hurting myself the first day, I decided against it. Sandy checked it out though and took some pictures for you and me to see. I am definitely going to get down there the next time we go to this area.
As I said before on the way back it was a bit uphill but not so much that it was difficult at all.
The second and final quick hit of the day before checking into the hotel was Mowry Beach, a property of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy. The description of the accessible boardwalk trail on Maine Trail Finder perfectly describes this amazing place.
"The trail starts at the sign and kiosk at the parking area at the end of Pleasant Street. A short stretch of gravel path leads to a 1,700-foot long boardwalk that passes through typical coastal scrub-shrub woodland and skirts sphagnum bog and cattail swamp. The final section of the trail is graveled and passes through the scrub to emerge at the south end of the Lubec Consolidated School near South Street. Return the way you came or, for a longer walk, return by road. The trail can also be accessed from the parking area at the south end of the Lubec Consolidated School for a walk to the beach and back. The trail is smooth and almost level and is designed to meet ADA guidelines for wheelchair access."
I think the boardwalk must be quite old as there are some parts that have shifted and may pose a bit of a tripping hazard to someone with difficultly walking. It is very accessible for wheelchair use. Even though I don't like railings because they block my view, it might be useful to have them on this boardwalk for people who have trouble walking or have balance issues. Also as you can see in the picture below, the boardwalk is not much wider than my wheelchair. While it is accessible width there are various wider areas to allow people to pass by along the trail.
This trail also must have taken a ton of work to build. A boardwalk that is 1,700 feet long is not a quick project when cutting and fitting each piece! Although 1,700 feet sounds short, I didn't feel that way as I was enjoying the scenery. It felt much longer and gave me a really beautiful experience exploring the scrub and marsh areas along the trail.
The trail does start out a bit narrow before coming to the actual boardwalk but I think that is only because the grass has grown in on the sides. The trail is still very wide.
There is a really big sitting area near the middle of the trail that would be perfect for bird watching or just enjoying the ocean breeze.
Unfortunately, the trail never accesses the beach and actually ends behind a school. I wish they had built a short boardwalk with a viewing platform to the beach area. I tried to get down to the beach but it was way too soft and was not necessarily going to be worth the effort given the places we had planned to go to later in the weekend.
The weekend started off beautifully and made me wish I had been to Lubec sooner and more often. I am rating both of these trails a definite Just Do It!
JUST DO IT!:
Most people will be capable of navigating this trail with very little assistance.
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. If you would like to go on a hike with me feel free to reach out. The more knowledge we gather and share, the more people we can get outside using the trails of Maine!
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