A great guide to the spectacular Down East Maine

I’ve been waiting a long time for a travel book focused on my favorite place, Down East Maine. So I have to thank Rich Bard for his exceptional book, Beyond Acadia – Exploring The Bold Coast Of Down East Maine, published by Down East books.

I’ve suggested to many people that when they get to Ellsworth, instead of driving straight toward Bar Harbor, that they hang a left and head Down East, where they’ll find everything they hope to see in Acadia National Park without the horrible crowds.

And now Rich Bard has given you lots of information for your Down East adventure. Rich spent a lot of time Down East as a wildlife biologist for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. That job took him all over Down East Maine, and now he’s sharing all that knowledge with you. He also served for a time as executive director of the Down East Coastal Conservancy.

This is not a normal travel book focused just on inns and restaurants. Rich covers it all from birds and wildlife to festivals and seasonal events. He tells you about all the amazing hikes that are available and the scenic drives. There’s information about lighthouses, boat tours, ferries, stunning coastline and beaches.

Do you want to ride your ATV or a horse, go swimming or running, listen to some great music or participate in some workshops – well, all that information is here.

I was particularly pleased when Rich wrote that his favorite place was West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Lubec where the oceanside hike is spectacular. My great-grandfather was a keeper at West Quoddy for 32 years. It is absolutely my favorite place in Maine and we’ve enjoyed that hike many times.

Rich also tells you about our other favorite hiking trails in Lubec and Cutler. And if you like camping, his information about Cobbscook State Park will put you in the best camping area in Maine, where many of the campsites are on the ocean. Linda’s parents started camping there the year it opened, and we camped there with them for many years.

I was also pleased that Rich told you about our favorite Mexican restaurant, Vasquez, in Milbridge. Linda and I love this place and wrote a travel column about it. We now plan our trips to Lubec and Campobello so we get to Vasquez at lunch time.

Even before you read this book, the stunning color photos will convince you to visit Down East Maine.

In the introduction Rich tells you about his experiences Downeast as a wildlife biologist. And he tells us, since he first arrived there, “there has been an explosion of local food, breweries, wineries, hiking trails, art galleries, restaurants, lodging, and tours.”

And that is true. But the thing you will love is the wonderful small rural towns, set beside the beautiful ocean, the remote beaches that you can enjoy without seeing another person, and the chance to truly relax.

Rich’s first paragraph in the introduction says it well: “Are you looking for a place to explore that has incredible natural beauty but hasn’t been turned into a tourist trap? Are you wishing you could hike some trails where animal prints out number the boot prints? Do you want to experience ‘the real Maine’ without the traffic, chain stores, and expensive boutiques of most of coastal Maine? If so, you’ve picked up the right book. Come explore Beyond Acadia!”

Once you do, I guarantee you’ll return every year.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.