About This Location
Giant's Stairs on Bailey Island, located in the town of Harpswell, Maine, is a destination renowned for its dramatic coastal scenery and unique geological features. This captivating natural wonder offers visitors the opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of the Maine coast while taking in breathtaking views of eastern Casco Bay, complete with crashing waves that sparkle in the sunlight. It's not uncommon to spot rafts of ducks, foraging harbor seals, or lobster boats hauling traps against this picturesque backdrop.
The Giant's Stairs trail and property are owned and meticulously maintained by the Town of Harpswell. Its history dates back to 1910 when Captain William Henry Sinnett, a lifelong resident of Bailey Island, deeded a 2.5-acre strip of coastal land to the town. Originally, there was a narrow footpath, often overgrown with poison ivy, that led to the monument and beautiful vistas. However, in 2008, with the help of a Maine Recreation Trail Grant, the Maine Conservation Corps, various town committees, and dedicated community members, the rustic 700-foot path underwent improvements. It was resurfaced, widened, and stabilized for the comfort and safety of visitors. The remaining 700 feet of the trail winds across rocky ledges, revealing a small rocky beach, Pinnacle Rock, and the intriguing "Thunder Hole." Red blazes along the rocks guide hikers to stay on Town property and follow the designated path.
Geology enthusiasts will find the rock formations at Giant's Stairs particularly fascinating. Layers of mud initially formed the sedimentary rock, interspersed with mineral deposits that later crystallized into quartz and garnet. Over millions of years, tectonic forces pushed these rock layers upward, resulting in extensive buckling and cracking. Eventually, molten magma from deep within the Earth filled a significant crack, forming a vertical seam of dark basalt rock, scientifically referred to as an "intrusive volcanic dike."
Adjacent to the Giant's Stairs trail is the McIntosh Lot Preserve, which is managed by the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust. This preserve complements the Giant's Stairs trail by creating a loop that leads back to the parking area, allowing visitors to explore a broader expanse of this remarkable coastal landscape.
Respect for the landowners surrounding this property is paramount, so please adhere to a "carry in, carry out" policy, leaving no trace behind except for photographs and footprints. While dogs are welcome, they must be kept on a leash to preserve the area's natural beauty and ensure the comfort of all visitors.
Giant's Stairs is beloved by both locals and tourists alike, with photographers particularly drawn to the area due to its unique rockfaces and sweeping panoramic views. The setting sun paints the skies with vivid hues during breathtaking sunsets, making Giant's Stairs a favorite spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Parking for Giant's Stairs is available at the Episcopal Church when it is not in use, as well as at well-marked spaces along Washington Avenue. Please note that the loading/unloading zone at the head of the trail is not for parking. While the parking areas are typically not crowded, the summer months tend to see an influx of visitors who come to admire the beauty of Giant's Stairs and its surroundings.