Maiden's Cliff offers just one of many spectacular views in Camden Hills State Park. Maiden’s Cliff is a rock formation that juts out over an 800 foot sheer cliff that overlooks Megunticook lake and Ragged Mountain to the west and is one of the most popular hiking trail venues in Camden Hills State Park. However, for all its breathtaking beauty, its history belies a very tragic accident.
In May of 1864, an 11-year-old girl named Elenora French fell off the steep cliff. She came to Maiden’s Cliff with her sister and a teacher and some other friends. Her sister recounted the horrible accident in the Camden Herald, the local newspaper, in 1915. The sister recounted how some members of her family, including Elenora hiked up to the steep outcropping of rocks to witness the spectacular views from the top of the cliff. Elenora’s sister told of how Elenora was traipsing along with them when her hat was blown off. She chased after her hat and was putting it on her head when a strong gust of wind pushed her off the edge of the cliff. They heard a scream and poor Elenora was seen at the base of the cliff. Elenora suffered from internal wounds and died a day after the fall.
In memory of the little girl who perished in this beautiful but treacherous spot, a man named Joseph B. Steams erected a white cross on Maiden’s Cliff. Years later, when the cross was beaten by the elements, a new one was erected to commemorate Elenora’s life which was tragically cut short by this accident.
The white cross was replaced four times before the Air National Guard helped in raising a 600-pound cross on the rocky outcropping. It measured 12 feet by 24 feet and looked formidable. In 1986, a monument was erected as well to commemorate Elenora French’s death. Roy Brown and Sam Dyer rode in two all-terrain vehicles to carry the supplies for the monument. Piled with tools, cement, and water, the two labored to install a granite monument for the little girl Elenora. They traveled through the rocky paths and through woods towards the white cross. Drilling the rock, they installed the monument right at the base of the white cross. However, in 1988, vandals managed to topple over the cross. The Camden Fire Department Rescue team righted the cross and it stood proudly once again on Maiden’s Cliff in Camden, Maine.
When the elements weathered the cross, it was replaced by a steel one. On Memorial Day of 1992, a steel cross reinforced by equally strong steel cables was erected for Elenora French. It was weather-proofed by epoxy paint and was tested for all kinds of weather conditions. And there it stands now, a testament to a throng of caring people who were determined that the young life curtailed by Maiden’s Cliff will always be remembered.
Today, the white cross can still be seen by the thousands of visitors who come to marvel at the view from Maiden’s Cliff. Some of them combine the Maiden Cliff Trail with other trails offered by the Camden Hills State Park. The trail leading to Maiden’s Cliff is one of the most popular trails in the network of trails provided by the Camden Hills State Park. Its steep and rocky paths may be difficult for beginner hikers. Be forewarned that this trail may be demanding for some. However, the difficult hike will be well worth it because the view from the 800 foot elevation is impressive to say the least. You can see Lake Megunticook and the Atlantic ocean from Maiden’s Cliff in Camden, Maine. That’s why most hikers brave the steep trail to see this unequaled view of the Maine countryside. It is a beauty wrought from a tragic death mingled by nature’s quiet splendor.