It’s no secret that Down East Maine is home to dozens of land trust preserves and public land parcels and many miles of outstanding hiking, easily some of the best anywhere along the coast. Two award-winning hikes (in my book anyway) that should be on your to-do list are found in Steuben, 20 miles east of Ellsworth via Route 1.


At a lofty 317 feet, Pigeon Hill is the highest point along coastal Washington County and the focal point of a 170-acre preserve owned and managed by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy. Find the preserve by driving a couple miles east of Steuben on Route 1, then travel south for 4.5 miles on Pigeon Hill Road.

The mostly open Pigeon Hill summit offers incredible view across a wide panoramic arc: East over Douglas Harbor to the islands of Narraguagus and Pleasant bays; south to Petit Manan Point and Bois Bubert Island, Pigeon Hill and Dyer bays; and west to Schoodic Point and beyond to the mountains of Acadia on Mount Desert Island. Crane your neck northwest for views to Schoodic and Black mountains in the Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land.

Four color-coded trails combine for a 1.8-mile network that forms a nice figure-eight loop hike. Take the relatively steep Historic Trail for a direct route to the top of the hill. Descend via the milder Summit Loop Trail or the slightly longer Ledge Woods Trail to join the Silver Mine Trail back to the car.

Two points of note for history buffs. The top of Pigeon Hill, once devoid of trees, served as a station on the Eastern Oblique Arc survey triangulation of the Eastern U.S. from 1833 to 1898, providing a clear view north to the Epping Baseline. The hill was also the site of a short-lived silver mine just after the Civil War.

Check out other DCC hikes in the region, like the Machias River Heritage Trail, Pike Lands and Klondike Mountain. More info:, 255-4500.


From the trailhead parking for Pigeon Hill, drive south on Pigeon Hill Road, which soon becomes Petit Manan Point Road. Enter the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge and continue to the John Hollingsworth Memorial Trail, 1.6 miles from Pigeon Hill.

The 8,200-acre refuge comprises three mainland parcels and 55 offshore islands along a 250-mile stretch of the Maine coast ranging from the Isle of Shoals to Cutler. The island units protect habitat for nesting seabirds, wading birds and bald eagles, while the mainland units support habitat for migratory songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl.

The 2,160-acre unit at Petit Manan Point is a diverse landscape of jack pine forests, raised heath peatlands, blueberry barrens, old hayfields, fresh and saltwater marshes, cedar swamps, granite coastline and cobble beaches.

The Hollingsworth Trail is a scenic 1.8-mile loop named in memory of John Hollingsworth, who along with his wife, Karen, devoted many years to photography at this and 400 other refuges across the country.

The trail leads east to Pigeon Hill Bay and a deep cove with a sandy beach. Behind the barrier beach are the brackish waters of Chair Pond. The path continues out to a grassy point at Chair Pond Head and a rewarding view of Petit Manan Island Light, visible four miles offshore to the southeast. At 123 feet, the light is the second tallest on the Maine coast. The 10-acre Petit Manan Island is a nesting site for the colorful Atlantic puffin.

Beyond the point, the trail turns north along the bay, meandering among the rocks and cobbles, seaweed and tide pools. Enjoy lovely views of Bois Bubert Island before turning inland to close the loop.

Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures in his Maineiac Outdoors blog at: