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A Side Trip to Cape Rosier

Across the Bagaduce River from Castine, Cape Rosier is one of Maine’s best-kept secrets. As a dead-end peninsula, it has no through traffic, and roads suddenly turn to dirt in sections. The cape still has a wild, unkempt flavor with salty views of Penobscot Bay; it’s not hard to imagine that you’re back in 1940s Maine.

The bad news is, to reach the cape from downtown Castine you need to backtrack to Route 175 (take Route 166 to Route 199), head south toward Deer Isle, and then follow Route 176 to the turnoff for Cape Rosier—about 18 miles of driving to cross 1 mile of water. Follow Route 176 to West Brooksville, then take Cape Rosier Road to Goose Falls. 

A loop of 15 miles or so circles around the cape from here; it’s suitable for travel by mountain bike or as a leisurely car trip.

The views are uncommonly beautiful, with a mix of blueberry barrens, boreal forest, farmsteads, summer estate houses, and coves dotted with yachts and lobster boats.

There’s virtually no commercial development of any sort. It’s no accident that Helen and Scott Nearing, the late back-to-the-land gurus and authors of Living the Good Life, chose to settle here when Vermont became too developed for their tastes. A number of Nearing acolytes continue to live on Cape Rosier.

If the weather’s agreeable, stop for a walk on the state-owned Holbrook Island Wildlife Sanctuary, a 1,200-acre preserve laced with trails and abandoned roads. The sanctuary is located at the northern end of the cape (look for signs). Among the choices: The Backshore Trail passes along open meadows to the shoreline, and the Summit Trail is all mossy, mushroomy, and medieval, with teasing glimpses of the water from the top.

On your way back, stay on Route 176 a couple of miles past the Route 175 turn-off, to visit the lively taproom at Strong Brewing Company (www.strongbrewing.com; tel. 207/359-8722) at the intersection of Routes 176 and 15, on the east side of the Bagaduce River. 

This is a community-supported brewery (fans buy shares, like a grocery CSA), and when the weather’s nice, the community fills up the picnic tables and loiters around the firepit outside. There’s often live music on summer Friday nights, and sometimes there’s a noodle cart for noshing too. It’s an easy half-hour’s drive back to Castine from here.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.