Quoddy Head State Park – Lubec, Maine

As part of a series on exploring Downeast Maine, I spent a day touring Lubec, Maine.  Lubec is a beautiful town and boasts dramatic scenery to rival any other and is working hard to preserve the natural beauty of the “Bold Coast”.

No trip to Lubec is complete without a visit to Quoddy Head State Park and West Quoddy Head Light which are located four miles off Route 189 (watch for the light house sign). 

On your way, keep an eye out for the “Sparkplug”, one of only three remaining cast iron lighthouses left in Maine.

The Sparkplug

The Sparkplug


Entering Quoddy Head State Park, the first sight visitors see is West Quoddy Head Light, perched atop a cliff, standing sentry to the often perilous waters of the cold, grey Atlantic.

West Quoddy Head Light

West Quoddy Head Light

There have been three lighthouses on this spot.  The first was made of wood in 1808 and for obvious reasons didn’t remain standing for too long.  The second was made of stone and was replaced in 1858 by the brick structure you see today.

West Quoddy Head Light just celebrated 200 years of lighthouses in the same location.  More than 1200 people attended the celebration and enjoyed tours of the tower, music, food, and the annual postal cancellation to celebrate the history of the lighthouse.

There’s a small museum found inside the former Light Keeper’s residence which provides visitors with a glimpse into the history of the lighthouse, its keepers, and the history of Lubec.  

The lighthouse has been unmanned since Malcolm Rouse closed the door behind him in 1988.  Operations are now fully automated and moisture in the air is what activates the fog horn and light.  Museum manager, Debora Bridges, smiled ruefully as she said, “There’s no need for people anymore.”

One can only imagine the lonely existence for the light keepers as they faced the choppy waters and the red cliffs of Grand Manan Island (Canada) miles off in the distance with the mournful cries of sea gulls for company.

There’s more to Quoddy Head State Park:  tables and grills for picnickers and four separate trails for hikers (and by now you know I love the trails). 

The trails take hikers along the coast, sometimes perilously close to the edges of cliffs and outcrops.  The views are stunning, dramatic, and bold.

Of considerable interest is the Bog Trail which is listed as a National Natural Landmark.  A boardwalk takes visitors through the ice age bog that’s been 8,000 years in the making.    There are signs marking rare plants such as sheep laurel and pitcher plant as well as subarctic species like the baked-apple berry, reindeer moss, and black crowberry.

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant

The trails are, for the most part, very easy going and clearly marked. 

Quoddy Head State Park is open from 9:00 a.m to sunset, May 15-October 15.  The lighthouse and museum are free of charge although it is important to note the museum is staffed by volunteers and supported through donations.  The hiking trails are maintained through a very nominal park entry fee.

I have no qualms in saying no trip to “Lubec, America” is complete without a visit to Quoddy Head State Park. 

And one final note:  the fog and cool air can move in quickly along the coast so be sure to bring along a jacket, good walking shoes, and of course your camera.


9 responses to “Quoddy Head State Park – Lubec, Maine

  1. I love Quoddy Head State Park. The trails along the cliffs and through the bog are magical.

    I live in New Jersey, but I’ve been dreaming of moving to Maine for as long as I can remember. My husband and I take most of our vacations in your state (we will be there next month), but it’s been ten years since we made it all the way up to Lubec and Quoddy Head State Park. Thank you for taking me back there with this lovely post.

  2. Ten years is far too long; I’m happy to hear you will be heading Downeast soon. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. My husband and I spent time in Lubec in early September. One of the things on our to do list was Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Unfortunately Hannah wreaked her havoc the day before our visit and the road was washed out so we didn’t get to see it. Our motto “on the way back” didn’t happen but it gives us yet another reason to visit your beautiful state. We fell in love with Downeast Maine.

  4. Oh, you missed some very beautiful scenery so you will just *have* to return for a visit. Thank you for your comments and be sure to head Downeast again soon!

  5. Check out the new West Quoddy park trail, going north from the lighthouse. Also, try Tours of Lubec and Cobscook for a quick way to learn about the area.

  6. The tours are an excellent idea; I wrote about them in a piece about a stay-cation in Lubec, America. Lubec is a wonderful town with so much to do and see. Thanks for commenting and letting us know about the new trail at Quoddy Head!

  7. Thanks for the great post. I am a native New Englander that has visited Maine many times, but never made it as far as beautiful Lubec. Even though I have been living in Florida for the past 15 years, I have always wanted to live up in Maine for as long as I can remember. Just something about the rugged Maine coast. How is Lubec and surrounding areas for raising a family (2 teens and an 8year old)?

    • I don’t think I could add too much to Ruth’s answer, but would also note the towns are very family oriented. School sporting events draw big crowds and having come from a larger area I’m pleased to note the kids dress like kids and talk like kids!

  8. Since the closest box store (WalMart) is 52 miles away and the closest McD is 32 miles away, we don’t have a lot of the temptations kids in more populated areas are used to. Most of this area is a cellphone dead zone. But we have nature galore! The schools are going through a transition period, with the state pushing for consolidation of school districts and cutting our subsidy (even though Washington County is poor compared to the rest of Maine, the formula makers in Augusta decided to determine wealth by value of property rather than per capita income. We have lots of coastal property, by which they figured we are wealthy and don’t need the subsidy.) Home schooling is very popular, as is Washington Academy in East Machias. This long answer to your short question is to let you know that there are pros and cons to raising a family here. You need to decide the atmosphere in which you want your children to be raised, and if our plusses and minuses add up to where you will find it.

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