Last October over Indigenous People’s Day weekend, my boyfriend and I drove the entire coast of Maine, starting in Portsmouth, NH with the goal of visiting the eastern-most lighthouse in the United States. This trip took us to the tiny fishing village of Lubec, Maine, and across the border to one of the Roosevelt family’s favorite summer spots, Campobello Island. We didn’t know much about the history of these lands or of the First Nation people who lived in this region so prolifically for thousands of years, so in this post, I provide a section on some facts I learned after doing some (and I can’t stress this enough, SOME) research on the Wabanaki First Nation. I also, of course, provide a rundown of the two bogs we visited: Arctic Bog in Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine and Eagle Hill Bog in Herring Cove Provincial Park on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada!
Maine is stolen land of the Wabanaki First Nation. The area in which most of the Nation consists translates to Dawnland and includes what is now called Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Brenton Island, Prince Edward Island, some of Quebec, Anticosti, and Newfoundland. Quoddy Head State Park is named after, I assume, the Passamaquoddy Indians. The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians, part of the Wabanaki First Nation, are the descendants of Native American peoples who inhabited Maine and western New Brunswick since well before recorded history, and were among the first to make contact with colonists in the early 1600’s (source). After conflicts with tribes, a pandemic, and seven major wars, trading agreements were established, and the French colonists became the predominant foreign population to settle along the northeastern coastal region of Maine. In 1862, however, the British forced the Wabanaki to formally disband as a Nation. Since then, children were routinely taken away from their families and forced into assimilation and re-education boarding schools (check out this powerful PBS documentary on the subject). It wasn’t until 1993 that the Wabanaki Confederacy was formed, gaining federal recognition from the United States Government. If you would like to learn more about Wabanaki culture in Maine today, please visit Maine-Wabanaki REACH. The organization does a lot of outreach and education, which if you are in Maine, I highly recommend attending one of their workshops.
So with that said, let’s get into the bogs!
Arctic Bog is an easy to moderate 0.6 mile walk from the head light which is a lovely sight, even in the fog and rain which is how we experienced it last year (State Park Map). On a clear day, one can easily see Grand Manan (French for large island) across the water, however, we were not so lucky. The trails are well-maintained and the outer part of the loop runs along the edge of a cliff, providing stunning views of that classic rocky Maine coast. The trail through the bog is a boardwalk loop, flanked by many interpretive signs about the formation of the bog, bog ecology, and the plants you may find inside.
Arctic Bog was formed the way most bogs were: by a glacier leaving a depression in the earth’s crust after receding around 8,000 years ago, at which point, water filled in the depression, plants were allowed to grow, die, and accumulate organic material. One of the many signs indicates that baked apple berry (Rubus chamaemorus), also known as cloudberry, can be found in Arctic Bog. This is noteworthy because baked apple berry is only found in boreal and high elevation environments in North America, it is endangered in New Hampshire (USDA), and (according to these signs) only grows in Maine on Saddleback and Goose Eye Mountains and in bogs along the coast of Washington and Hancock counties.
Eagle Hill Bog
The next day we drove across the bridge from Lubec to Campobello Island to Herring Cove Provincial Park, and guess what? The sun came out! The whole island offers amazing views along the periphery, but we headed straight for the interior to check out that sweet sweet bog. The Eagle Hill Bog, or Tourbiere Eagle Hill, en francais, trail is a 0.6 mile an easy trek across a boardwalk. There is a little loop at the beginning, but the trail is truly an out-and-back if you do the whole thing, reaching Eagle Hill at the end (map and trail info).
The beginning of October in Downeast Maine is peak leaf peeping season. This also holds true for bog foliage. Our eyes enjoyed a smattering of color: delicate yellow tamarack needles, lusciously red cranberries and Labrador tea leaves, and a sprinkling of green from the hearty black spruce, all contrasted by a bluebird sky. A nice change from the dreary gray weather of the day before. In true fall fashion, we spotted some migrating yellow-rumped warblers and the obligatory adorable chipmunk stuffing its face with cones. We had a great time here and enjoyed the rest of the Island until mid-afternoon when we decided it was time to head home.
Tips for staying to Lubec in October: don’t expect much to be open. If restaurants and businesses are open, their hours will be limited. Although the village is charming, it is small and gets pretty quiet after Labor Day. So if the weather is great, then you will be spending most of your time outside anyway and not trying to find things to do inside, relying on businesses to be open at your convenience. Bottom line: Pack a lunch, bring snacks, and get back to town by 4 pm so you can get in for dinner! Reservations are key. And if you want to go to Campobello Island, don’t forget to bring your passport! Keep in mind, there is a timezone change (one hour ahead of EST) and your cellphone carrier will switch to a Canadian network, so turn your phone on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges 🙂
2 thoughts on “Arctic Bog and Eagle Hill Bog”
Nice post Sarah! I love the info on the First Nations people and the Wabanaki Confederacy. It’s so important to remember that these lands were cared for by people long before Europeans showed up. Great info on Lubec after Labor Day, it’s important to know when you need to pack a lunch! Maybe someday we can go back and visit earlier in the summer and look for those sweet baked apple berry plants!
Thanks, Anne! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. I plan to incorporate more on indigenous history and current issues in my future posts too!
I would love to go back with you take pictures of all the neat plants!