Trailheadin’: Maine Island Trail

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the greatest traits of outdoorsmen is that they embody Emerson’s words perfectly. A natural, instinctive inclination to explore, discover, and challenge themselves is what makes them outdoorsmen and today’s Trailhead exhibits this well. Taking a detour from the conventional trails, today we set off on the Maine Island Trail, America’s first trail that makes its way along the water.

The Maine Island Trail makes its way along 375 miles of Maine’s coast, from Casco Bay to Machais Bay, and connects 190 islands. Along the 375 miles you’ll guide your canoe or kayak through rivers, capes, and abandoned beaches. Furthermore, you can camp on the islands along the way, some of which are private and require membership in the Maine Island Trail Association. To camp on the islands, though, you’ll need to keep things simple and adhere to the Leave No Trace guidelines.

Embarking on the trail is a time-consuming endeavor, to say the least, and few make the entire trip. Most travellers set up base at the Old Quarry Campground in Stonington. There you can rent gear and explore the local region. From there, it’s common to spend a night on Russ Island, which is home to a large flock of sheep and a meandering collection of hiking trails. To save time, you can steer your route through the Muscle Ridge Islands, or put in at the Lobster Buoy Campsites in South Thomaston.

Navigating the trail is relatively easy with the Association guidebook, but anyone who’s been to New England can tell you how treacherous the fog can be on the water. A GPS, a radio, and perhaps nautical charts are all safe bets in accurately making your way along the trail. Also, the waters of the northern Atlantic rarely warm up, so enjoy the sunlight along the way and bring dry clothes on the off chance you take an unplanned swim. Food could be an issue if you’re travelling light, but versatile outdoorsmen will be smart enough to arm themselves with a travel setup for fishing, with which they can catch striped bass or bluefish from their watercrafts or the shores of one of the islands. Otherwise, there are a myriad of strawberry and blueberry bushes on the islands.

The Maine Island Trail makes its way along Maine’s beautiful coast and offers its visitors amazing opportunities to experience rugged trails, regional wildlife, and a challenging excursion few are fortunate enough to mark among their memories. True outdoors ingenuity established the trail and true bold nature is what maintains its majesty. Those yearning for a different take on the outdoors would do well to put in and take on the Maine Island Trail.