As the owner/manager of several properties in coastal Down East Maine, I am asked often where the best place to swim in the ocean is in the area. By far, my answer is always Roque Bluffs State Park. Located about 10 miles from the town of Machias, the park is 274 acres of beach, water and walking trails.
We recommend that you download the brochure or stop by the Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce to pick one up with all of the information about the park.
The below information comes directly from the Maine.gov website — please head there for even more information.
Hours / Season Open 9:00 a.m. to sunset daily from May 15 to October 1. Fee Charged. Visitors may continue to enjoy the park during the off season by parking outside the gate and walking in during these same hours. Please be aware that facilities are closed during the off season.
Roque Bluffs State Park provides visitors with a great diversity of coastal landscapes to enjoy in 274 acres on Schoppee Point (south of Machias). A beautiful, half-mile crescent of sand and pebbles along Englishman Bay is backed by the shallow waters of 60-acre Simpson Pond – allowing for bracing saltwater swims and much warmer fresh water soaks; no lifeguards available. Between the beach and the pond are several picnic areas and a children’s play area adjoining the parking area. A 6-mile trail network just inland from the shore leads through old orchards, fields and woods, with paths that follow the rocky shores of Great Cove and Pond Cove. The town’s trailerable boat launch is adjacent to the park on Schoppee Point Road.
The diverse habitats at Roque Bluffs State Park support abundant wildlife, and bird watchers enjoy interesting sightings at all seasons. Bald eagles frequent the area year-round and many migrant species stopover during spring and fall. Birders occasionally spot less common waterfowl, such as Barrow’s Goldeneye, Redhead and Gadwall ducks, and Hooded Mergansers. During summer months, pipers, plovers and interesting species of gull (like ring-billed) frequent the beach.
Both Englishman Bay and Simpson Pond can be explored by canoe or kayak (with rental kayaks available for use on Simpson Pond). The pond is stocked so anglers can fish for brook trout in the spring and brown trout through much of the summer. Bait fishermen use the pond in fall and winter.
Directions and Parking
Get Google map and directions
From the south, turn right off Route 1 onto Roque Bluffs Road in Jonesboro. At the T-intersection in 5 miles, turn right and continue south on Roque Bluffs Road to Schoppee Point. From the north, turn left on Roque Bluffs Road approximately one mile south of the Machias town center and continue 8 miles to the village of Roque Bluffs (where there is parking for hiking trails) or continue down Schoppee Point to reach the beach and boat launch.
- Boating (motorized)
- Cross-country skiing
- Hiking (trails)
- Sea kayaking
- Watchable wildlife
- Carry out all trash.
- Dogs are not permitted on the ocean beach. Elsewhere, keep pets on leash (less than 4 feet) at all times. Do not leave pets unattended and clean up after them (carrying out bags with waste).
- Park rules prohibit use of intoxicating beverages.
- Camping is not permitted.
- Do not feed, touch or disturb wildlife.
- Do not leave valuables unattended in your vehicle.
- See Rules for State Parks and Historic Sites
Consider lending a hand. Contact us if you would like to help with stewardship or maintenance work.
The trailhead parking lot is a quarter-mile east of the beach parking lots (up the hill toward Roque Bluffs village). Five hiking trails (with the longest loop approximately 4 miles) allow visitors to meander through fields and woodlands bordering Pond Cove and Great Cove.
Visit the Roque Bluffs State Park trail map at Maine Trail Finder.
Pond Cove Trail (2 miles, approximately 1 hour) leads through meadows and woods (over largely flat terrain) and offers scenic vistas over Pond Cove.
Houghton’s Hill Trail (1.5 mile, approximately 45 minutes) provides a woods walk back to the trailhead from the western end of the Pond Cove Trail, passing over Houghton’s Hill (with moderate terrain suitable for fit walkers). A picnic table located halfway along the trail offers a place to rest or snack.
Blueberry Camp Trail (1 mile, approximately 30 minutes) cuts back from the coast to join Houghton’s Hill Trail, ascending that hill on the way back to the trailhead.
Mihill Trail (2 miles, approximately 1 hour) is the longest loop back from the end of the Pond Cove Trail, passing along the shore of Great Cove before turning inland. At the fork (Larry’s Loop), take the left trail for the most direct route back to the trailhead.
View the Maine Parks and Lands EVENT CALENDAR
Services and Facilities
- Picnic area
- Trailered boat launch
- See Visitor Accessibility
Please enjoy Roque Bluffs State Park during daylight hours: the main area is gated at night.
Bring potable water with you as there is none on site. Visitors are welcome to swim in Englishman’s Bay and Simpson Pond but no lifeguard protection is offered. Those who fish off the beach on Englishman Bay should be careful of nearby swimmers. For more on saltwater angling, consult the Maine Saltwater Angler’s Guide.
Kayakers can launch their boats from the beach on Englishman’s Bay, but the State does not own any nearby islands so public access is not guaranteed. Only experienced kayakers should paddle the open waters of Englishman’s Bay, given the potential for fog and wind.
The sand/pebble beach at Roque Bluffs State Park is an unusual geologic feature along the Downeast coast, much of which is marked by bold cliffs and cobble shores. It resulted from an accumulation of sediment that eroded from a prominent glacial moraine lying to the east. There is a bedrock outcrop at the eastern end of the beach where visitors can see glacial striations (deep groves in the bedrock left by the glacier’s movement toward the southeast). The evidence here of glacial history has made the Park stop #29 on Maine’s Ice Age Trail (to learn more, visit http://iceagetrail.umaine.edu/).
This unusual beach has long been popular with area residents and visitors. The Maine State Park Commission used proceeds from a public bond to acquire and protect the land in 1969.
Offshore, visitors can see Libby Lighthouse (formerly known as Machias Lighthouse because it marks the entrance to Machias Bay). This historic structure, built in 1817, is still an active beacon.