When you need to work off some of those lobster rolls served up by Quoddy Bay Lobster or feel especially energized after a solid night’s sleep at The Kilby House, head over to Shackford Head State Park on the southwest side of Moose Island for some excellent hiking. Weighing in at 90 acres, this little gem of a park may be on the small side but makes up for it with lots of miles of family-friendly trails connecting beaches to hill peaks through dappled forests.
The park is named for Captain John Shackford, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and one of the island’s earliest settlers. His name also graces a street in the city and Shackford Cove, a small cove on the east side of the island by Battery Street. A proposal to develop an oil refinery on the site in the 1970’s was successfully opposed and brought attention to the site and its value for nature conservation. A local land trust partnered with the State’s Land for Maine’s Future program to purchase the site in the 1989 and it was added to the Maine State Parks system shortly thereafter.
If you like history, birding, beach combing, hilltop views, or a pleasant hike in the woods, you’ll find it here. Before you hit the trail, signs near the parking area tell of the Civil War ships brought here in the early 1900’s to be burned and salvaged. A variety of birds (28 species at last count) occupy the park and periodically signs are posted about beach trail closings due to active Bald Eagle nesting. If you only have about an hour, hike the 1.2 mile easy round-trip “main” trail to a short spur up to the rocky overlook. From there you can relax (there is a bench) wide-eyed at the expansive views of Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bays, the town of Lubec, the international bridge and Canadian Island of Campobello. For a longer hike (roughly 2 miles), continue on the Ship Point and Schooner Trails that are a bit more challenging and take you around the headland through wild blueberries on rocky outcrops, stands of Beech and Striped Maple trees, and the possibility of a whale siting in Cobscook Bay.
Please note that Shackford Head State Park does not have personnel nor water or restroom facilities on site. It is managed by staff at nearby Cobscook Bay State Park who do a great job of posting information and maintaining trails. So bring your own water, find a restroom before you visit, follow the rules posted, carry out your trash, and hike safe. It is open during daylight hours year-round though in winter the parking lot may not be regularly plowed. Pets are allowed on a leash and there is no hunting allowed. From State Route 190, turn right onto Deep Cove Road. Turn left just before the Boat School toward ample parking.