For dramatic coastal scenery in Harpswell, nothing beats the Giant’s Stairs. Named for its interesting geologic history, the Giant’s Stairs trail follows the rocky coastline with gorgeous views of eastern Casco Bay, often with crashing waves glinting in the sunlight. On any given day you might see rafts of ducks, foraging harbor seals, or a lobster boat hauling traps.
The main trail is hard-packed gravel and 4 feet wide. Access to the trail is paved.
The Giant's Stairs trail and property is owned and maintained by the Town of Harpswell. In 1910 the 2.5-acre strip of coastal land was deeded to the Town by Captain William Henry Sinnett, a lifelong resident of Bailey Island. Historically there was a narrow foot path filled with poison ivy that led to the monument and beautiful views, but in 2008 with a Maine Recreation Trail Grant, the Maine Conservation Corps and various Town committees and community members, the rustic 700-foot path was resurfaced, widened, and stabilized. The remaining 700 feet of trail runs across the rocky ledges where you can find a small rocky beach, Pinnacle Rock, and "Thunder Hole." Please be sure to follow the red blazes along the rocks to stay on Town property.
The abutting McIntosh Lot Preserve is managed by Harpswell Heritage Land Trust and its trail compliments the Giant's Stairs trail by allowing hikers to make a loop along the road back to the parking area.
Read about MTF Accessibility Ambassador Enock Glidden's visit to the Giant's Stairs using his wheelchair at MTF Stories.
The rock formations here are a geologist’s dream, but even a layman can appreciate the gigantic forces that shaped this coastline going back 500 million years. Layers of mud formed the original sedimentary rock, along with deposits of minerals that later crystallized into quartz and garnet. Movements in the Earth’s crust pushed the rock layers upward, causing massive buckling and cracking. Gradually, hot magma from deep below the surface flowed into one large crack and formed a vertical seam of dark basalt rock, known to scientists as an “intrusive volcanic dike.
Visit the Town of Harpswell online for more information about the Giant's Stairs trail, or the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust online for more information about the McIntosh portion of the property, or contact:
From Cook’s Corner in Brunswick, follow ME-24 south for 14.5 miles, crossing the Cribstone Bridge. Turn left on Washington Ave. Park at the Episcopal Chapel at 19 Ocean Street, Bailey Island (except during services). The chapel is at the intersection of Washington Ave and Ocean Street. Turn right on Washington Ave for additional designated roadside parking spots. Parking is limited.
There is a steep downhill from the church parking area to the north trailhead, but there is an unloading zone for vehicles right at the trailhead to bypass the steep entry if necessary.
Success! A new password has been emailed to you.