Machias is the center of coastal Washington County. It’s the hub for lodging, dining, and shopping opportunities. In colonial times, the town was such an important source of timber and naval supplies that Fort O’Brien was built on the sea entrance to protect it. At the confluence of the Machias and East Machias Rivers, freshwater meets tidal water.
In the downtown area, Route 1 crosses a causeway. Park on the near end at Helen’s Restaurant. Check the river behind the Machias River Inn for ducks, and check the trees on the far side for bald eagles. They nest in the taller trees and are usually observable.
At the north end of the causeway, a recreational trail crosses Route 1. Later in summer, shorebirds congregate along the muddy edges of the river. Most will be on the far shore, but some will be just below the trail. Nelson's sparrow habitat begins just over a half-mile down the trail.
In East Machias, the East Machias River cascades into the tidal zone. (This is where Route 191 splits off eastward over a bridge.) It is a lively place for cormorants, mergansers, and gulls any time of year. In May, when sea run fish are moving upstream to spawn, the congregation of gulls, waterfowl, and eagles can be impressive.