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New England by Heart

Acadia & Downeast

Spotlight map of Acadia & Downeast region Maine

Tichnor Brothers postcard of Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park

Many people are confused by the term “downeast”, referring to the most eastern and, yes, northernmost coast of Maine. Shouldn’t it be “upeast”? With both my grandfathers being from Nova Scotia, my thought growing up was that it was meant to be from the perspective of that Canadian province. But no – it’s a sailor’s term, meaning heading east, downwind. So there you have it.

Whether it’s down or east, one thing is for certain, this part of Maine’s coastline is nothing short of spectacular. With mountains meeting sea on Mount Desert Island, tiny fishing villages settled in cozy coves and eagles soaring overhead, this most rugged coastline of Maine is a thing of beauty. 

Most of the attention goes to Mount Desert Island, host to Acadia National Park and the resort town of Bar Harbor. That’s not surprising, given the views from the top of Cadillac Mountain, the jaw-dropping ocean vistas at every turn around the park, the hiking amongst the spruce and balsam firs, and the hopping, picturesque Bar Harbor scene. You could spend weeks here and never want to leave.

But beauty does not end at Mount Desert Island (though the crowds do). Across Frenchman’s Bay to the east is Schoodic Point, its winding road tracing the coastline through forests of spruce and fir and offering sweet views of the mountains of Acadia to the west across the bay. Continuing on and dipping down the peninsulas are heartbreakingly quiet fishing villages like Prospect Harbor, Corea and Cutler, interspersed through the wild, rugged coastline.

Inland are the glorious blueberry barrens, full to the brim in summer with those delectable berries, and turning a stunning vibrant orange-red in the fall, as far as the eye can see.

Then you get to the very eastern part of New England where Lubec and Eastport gaze across the narrows to New Brunswick’s Manaan Island and beyond that, across the Bay of Fundy, to Nova Scotia. You can take your photo by the picturesque West Quoddy Lighthouse and say you’ve reached the furthest eastern point of the United States mainland.

Who said you need go no further than Bar Harbor?

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