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Friday, May 5, 2023

Discovering Cobscook Shores Park System

Friday, May 5, 2023

Hi Blog!

We have a few days here in Calais, Maine before crossing into Canada. Using our secret sources we discovered the Cobscook Shores Park System. Cobscook Shores encompasses a system of 15 parklands dispersed along the southern and western shores of Cobscook Bay from Dennyville to Lubec. In order to better understand this new system of parks, we decided to make our first stop the Visitor Center at Old Farm Point Shorefront Park in Lubec, Maine.

While the Visitor Center and Park Offices were closed, we were able to pick up a map and park brochure. Next to the Visitor Center was the trailhead for the Old Farm Point and Hay Field Trails. We decided to hike the Old Farm Point Trail to Pirates Cove.

As we hiked out to the point, we were intrigued to learn that Cobscook Shores, Inc., the entity that owns all the parks, is actually a family-funded Maine charitable foundation formed by Gilbert Butler.

In the early 2010s, the Butler Conservation Fund (BCF) adopted a sudden and significant new approach to conserving land for public use. Rather than simply making grants to land trusts and environmental groups, BCF began buying up land on its own, then installing recreational infrastructure — trails, boardwalks, gazebos, boat launches — with a fervor and a budget that are all but unique among conservation organizations. 

As we approached the point, the top of the hill was covered in small white and purple flowers.

This was our view across Pirates Cove toward Lubec.

A well built set of stairs took us straight down to a rocky beach.

The Old Farm Point Shorefront Park protects 3400 feet of shoreline. However, because it was high tide, we were not able to do much beach exploring.

We finished our hike and drove into Lubec for lunch. We were hoping to find a seafood restaurant and were not disappointed when we found Fisherman's Wharf. Dave enjoyed a big bowl of Lobster Chowder and a crab cake, while Kathy had a spinach salad topped with fresh lobster covered in a wild Maine blueberry vinagrette.

We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Toward the end of our lunch, we met Jason Overby. He was in town to do a presentation on puffins at the local library. Turns out, he loves to spend his summers in Newfoundland photographing puffins. We told him we were heading there and would look him up when we got to Elliston. Maybe it shouldn't surprise us that the only folks in Lubec this time of year are going to Newfoundland!

Here is the view of the actual Fisherman's Wharf for which the restaurant gets its name.

The lobster boats wait patiently for their captains. Lobsters can be harvested all year in Maine, but the majority are caught between June and December.

After poring over the Cobscook Shores map and park descriptions, we decided to visit Pike Lands Cove.

More than 60 years ago, a local resident and plant scientist, Radcliffe Pike, planted a collection of flowering shrubs, apple trees and nut trees. Researchers estimate that trees up to 180 miles away could have been influenced by Pike's exotic collection due to the pollen carried through bees and the wind. 
The trees are just starting to leaf out.

The cove has over 4,600 feet of shoreline including a 1,700 foot gravel beach. To access the cove, we followed one of the sturdiest wooden boardwalks we have ever crossed.

Below, Dave takes in the view from the Johnson Bay Overlook.

Something large and white caught Dave's eye - it was a buoy! This area was hit hard by storms in December. There is no telling how far the buoy traveled to get here.

The trail took us to a salt marsh which is home to Gaspé Arrow grass, a rare plant found only in a few spots in Maine.

Crescent Beach forms a barrier between Johnson Bay and the saltmarsh. Once down on the beach, Kathy began her search for sea glass.

As the tide recedes, more of the beach is exposed. 

Cobscook Bay has an extraordinary 24 foot tidal range. It is home to the highest density of nesting bald eagles in the northeastern U.S. It also has rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.

During the Ice Age, Maine was covered by a sheet of ice. The slow-moving glacial ice changed the landscape as it scraped across mountains and valleys. The large exposed flat rocks bear the scars of receding glaciers.

At the far end of the beach, the salt marsh empties into the bay. While it looked shallow enough to cross, we decided to make this our turnaround.

On the way back to the trailhead, we marveled at the fact that we can find a place a beautiful as this and have it all to ourselves.

If the weather holds out, we may try a couple more of the Cobscook Shore parks and trails. Stay tuned.

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