Western Head and Eastern Knubble / by Greg Westrich

Western Head and Eastern Knubble form the two sides of Little River—not a river at all but the rock-walled cove that is Cutler's protected harbor. Both are Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserves. The land trust asked me not to include Western Head in Hiking Maine, but they did say I could share it with my friends.


To get to the trailhead, drive south on ME 191 from East Machias to Cutler Village. Just before the village, turn right onto Destiny Bay Road. There is a small marked parking are 0.1 miles before the end of the road. If the lot is full, come back another time. From the parking area, walk to the end of the road. Follow the preserve signs around a meadow and along a gravel beach. This section is private property, so hike respectfully.


The trail leads 1.2 miles, past two more gravel beaches, to Western Head. A small, spruce-covered island floats just beyond the head. Jumbles of rocks and cliffs stretch for as far as you can see. To the east, Little river Light squats on its own island at the river's mouth. It's fog horn sounds regularly, echoing off the rock and dense forest.


The trail loops around the head to higher cliffs and wider views before turning back into the mossy woods. This 2.5 mile hike is one of the most scenic in Maine.


The Eastern Knubble trail starts next to Cutler's firehouse (there's a marked parking area across ME 191). After crossing a meadow with views of the village homes and wharfs scattered around the harbor, the trail enters the woods and follows the shore. The forest floor is a blanket of soft rippling grass and bobbing bunchberry. The forest ends abruptly at high, irregular cliffs.


The trail ends at a wide gravel beach. Across shallow water, passable even at high tide, is a high, rocky island. A rough trail crosses the island to a clifftop with a spectacular view. Seaweeded water laps quietly at the rocks below. Gulls keen overhead. If you're lucky, you may see osprey or eagles.


Just before the beach, a side trail leads uphill to the site of an old mine. An information sign explains that copper and silver were mined from a quartz vein. The ore shipped to Belfast for processing. The view yielded 0.05 ounces of silver per ton and about 20 pounds of copper. There are small mines like this one scattered up and down the Maine coast.