Travel across the arching Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge over Eggemoggin Reach and onto Deer Isle, and you will have crossed the boundary into a different time zone of sorts, what I like to call “island time.”
The pace of life seems slower, more relaxed, and perfect for many hours of recreation and leisure activities. And there are plenty of both on this 24,000-acre island of bountiful natural beauty, complete with spruce-scented woods, pink granite shorelines, deep green waters, salty ocean air, squawking gulls and long island views.
I visited the island again recently for a weekend of sea kayaking, hiking and camping, and as usual had a most excellent time. Kayaking among the islands of the Stonington Archipelago is always enjoyable, but on this trip I like the handful of hikes we explored even more. And camping in the oceanfront spruce woods at Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, well, it’s a great time no matter what the outdoor activity.
But the kayaking and camping is another story…
The Island Heritage Trust is the chief steward of the trails and preserves on Deer Isle as well as a few of the adjacent islands. The trust—which has been protecting open space, scenic areas, wildlife habitats, natural resources, and historic and cultural features on Deer Isle since 1987—owns or manages at least a dozen preserves, four beaches and eight islands, and it is always a delight to check out these coastal gems on foot.
Here’s a snapshot of a handful of Deer Isle preserves with significant trails for hiking, starting from Little Deer Isle and proceeding southward. Enjoy!
PINE HILL PRESERVE
The summit of Pine Hill at Pine Hill Preserve on Little Deer Isle affords extensive views over Deer Isle, and to Mount Desert Island and Isle au Haut. An easy quarter-mile hike through this seven-acre property gets you there. Follow a grassy woods road to a clearing, the base of an old quarry.
A steep cliff wall of serpentinized peridotite, a dark-colored, coarse-grained rock of volcanic origin, rises nearly 100 feet; a jumble of scree at its base. Scramble up the trail along the right side of the cliff right to the top.
Immediately after the causeway leading onto Deer Isle proper is Scott’s Landing, a 27-acre preserve featuring a mile and a half of footpaths that crisscross the woods and fields of the former Scott family homestead.
Hike to the site of the old farmstead and milk house, then trundle down the gently sloping field to the shore of Eggemoggin Reach. Follow the sand and pebble beach to its end, then duck into woods and scamper over Moraine Ridge to the site of the 1807 ferry landing and the old store that served travelers to and from the island.
SHORE ACRES PRESERVE
Find the lovely Shore Acres Preserve on Greenlaw District Road a couple miles east of ME 15 via Sunshine Road. Three trails combine to form a nice 1.5-mile hiking loop that traces a scenic route along Greenlaw Cove. Start out on the Stonewall Trail, then turn north of the Shore Trail to enjoy numerous outlooks and opportunities to get out on the shoreline rocks at the lower tides.
Get your fill of the amazing pink Oak Point granite along this stretch before turning inland on the Goldthread Trail. Post-hike, since you’re out this way, trundle on over to Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies a little further out on the Sunshine Peninsula, a side trip you’ll no doubt find worthwhile.
EDGAR M. TENNIS PRESERVE
Midway down the island, just off Sunshine Road, is the 145-acre Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, the largest on Deer Isle. Owned by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation, the land is the former farmstead of the Pickering and Davis families, who resided here in the 1800s.
Four small parking areas are found along Tennis Road, which bisects the parcel. On the east side, start at Great Brook and walk a nearly two-mile loop that hugs the shore of Pickering Cove and leads to a hidden pocket beach. The trail on the west side snakes through the woods before meandering down to the water’s edge at Southwest Harbor.
Next time: Settlement Quarry, Crockett Cove Woods Preserve and Barred Island Preserve…
MORE INFO, MAPS AND BROCHURES: Island Heritage Trust, 207-348-2455.