Peacock Beach State Park is a public beach in the town of Lubec, Knox County, Maine. The park offers views of Little Jackson Mountain and sits adjacent to Sudden Gulf Stream State Forest. It is managed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. In addition to being named after the pea-shaped protrusions on its surface, the park’s bedrock features glacial erratics, which are blocks of granite that were carried far from their northern sources during glacier formation. One such feature is North Head Ledge, an outcropping north of the point where the main part of Peacock Island connects to Tralee Island.
This area was once covered by ice at least as thick as today’s Manhattan skyscrapers, but as the glaciers melted, so much water ran off into the Atlantic Ocean that the land filling up behind the ice left very high cliffs along what is now the coast. At least one of these cliff faces still stands straight up from the ocean floor, though it has been altered greatly through erosion since it was created. Another erratic rock feature, South Head Ledge, lies south of North Head Ledge. These two ledges provide examples of how the retreat of the glaciers carved deeply into the landscape, leaving dramatic residual effects. Though they have been altered over time, both headlands retain many characteristics of their former selves, including steep sides, narrow beaches, and towering bluffs.
The park itself occupies a peninsula between Two Lights Cove and Puffin Cove with a width of about 600 feet (180m). Its total length is more than 1 mile (1.6km), measured eastwest, including a 300-foot (91m) causeway connecting Tralee Island to Peacock Island. The entire complex covers some 2,400 acres (970ha). On all sides except southeast, it is bordered by deep ravines filled with mountain streams. To the southeast, there is a marshy area known as Moody Marsh. A stream known as the Stroudwater runs westward across the lower end of the park, joining the Kennebec River just above. There is no direct access to the river; instead, a boat launch allows for access to Lake Lubbers via Peacock Bay.
The park includes three marked trails, totaling 8 miles (13km): East Loop Trail, which ascends Peacock Mountain; West Loop Trail, which follows Chain O’ Lakes Road around the perimeter of the park; and the Coastal Circuit Trail, which passes by North Head Ledge, South Head Ledge, Peacock Point, and ends at Seawall Drive. The park also contains campgrounds, picnicking facilities, and a small cabin colony. The campground has 44 sites divided into tent or trailer campsites. Half of the sites are available year round, while the remainder must be reserved. The picnic facility consists of four separate areas, each accommodating 50 people, plus restrooms and playground equipment. The cabin colony contains 34 residences, ranging from single room cabins to multi-bedroom homes, most of which can be rented seasonally. Eight rental cottages are also available.
The park receives about 230,000 visitors annually. On Labor Day weekend, attendance nearly doubled, with 350,000 people attending. The park received $2.3 million in funding from the state government for improvements, which included installing new sewer systems throughout the campground and adding 30 electric vehicle charging stations. Improvements were completed in spring 2016. Camping at Peacock Beach began in 1876 when Elijah Pike, who owned nearby Mount Blue, sold 13 lots, 10 of which were on “Penobscot Bay,” the site of present day Peacock Beach, to William Thompson for half the appraised value of the property. Thompson subsequently sold 7 of those lots, 5 of which he kept for himself, giving his other 2 lots to Jonathan Morse, who paid cash for them. By 1880, Morse had transferred ownership of 14 lots, 12 of which were located on Penobscot Bay, to Robert Moulton.
Moulton later married Ophelia Pike, Elijah Pike’s granddaughter. Their son, also named Robert Moultion, inherited the estate upon her death in 1922. He continued to operate the sawmill, grist mill, blacksmith shop, and store, built in 1830, until his death in 1928. His wife died soon thereafter, leaving the couple’s 3 children – Eliza Jane, Robert Jr., and George Washington – orphans. In 1930, George Washington Moultion signed over ownership of the family’s interests in the mills, store, and beach properties to the state of Maine for use as a memorial to his uncle, Sgt. Levi Fuller, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War.
The state took possession of the property in June 1931, officially making Peacock Beach State Park the largest state park in the United States. With a staff of 4 full-time employees (including a caretaker for the cottage colony), maintenance expenditures totaled less than $500,000 per year. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established several camps in southern Maine, including one at Peacock Beach. CCC workers performed various construction projects, planted trees, and maintained roads and buildings. They even published their own newspaper, the Forester, which appeared every week for 17 years. After the CCC disbanded, regular maintenance work continued under the direction of the National Park Service. An attempt to convert the park into a national military reservation during World War II failed when local residents protested.
Military training exercises using explosives and guns took place outside the park, but none inside. Remnants of the war effort include concrete observation bunkers near the campground and remnants of gun emplacements on Peacock Island. Despite these efforts, Peacock Beach State Park remained relatively undamaged compared to other parts of the nation, and few if any enemies ever attacked it. As a result, the park retains much of its natural beauty, and infrastructure development has been minimal. The park provides access points for the Appalachian Trail, the Mid-Atlantic Greenway, and the Eastern Scenic Byways trail system. The campground opens on Memorial Day weekend and closes Columbus Day weekend. Reservations are accepted only for the first night. No pets are allowed. Each site accommodates up to 6 people in tents or RVs. Modern restroom facilities with hot showers are provided. There are 45 drive-up parking spaces, mostly shaded, with a handful of unshaded spots.
Most of the parking spaces are large enough for multiple vehicles, although usually only one car will be present at a time. There are 3 designated bike routes within the park: The Coastal Circuit Trail, which forms the eastern boundary of the park, and the East and West Loops, which form a loop in the center of the park. All 3 routes share a common section along Route 26, which becomes Main Street in the towns of Lubec and Fairfield. Parking for bicycles is in a different location than for cars. Bikes may either ride on the shoulder of the road, in dedicated bicycle lanes, or in traffic along with drivers. Bicycle riders are subject matter to the same regulations as motorized vehicle operators, which means having a current registration with any state is sufficient to operate your vehicle on the park roads.
- cross country skiing
- mountain biking
- mountain biking
- wildlife viewing