Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 26, 2013
An Explorer’s Notebook
Barred Island, a preserve of varying terrain
by George Holderness
For a combination of mossy forest, crashing surf, and sweeping views, few locations surpass Barred Island Preserve. The 48-acre preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy and managed by the Island Heritage Trust, is open to public use.
A mile-long trail begins at the parking lot and winds through softwood forest. The trail is mostly level although it is muddy or root-covered in spots. Much of the forest floor is covered in moss; spruce and pine trees tower overhead.
In the second half-mile of the hike, visitors will hear the foghorn at Mark Island and catch glimpses of the ocean. Before reaching the shore, there is an overlook on a rocky outcrop. On a clear day, visitors may soak in a panorama stretching from Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills in the west to the islands off Stonington and Isle au Haut in the south.
Barred Island itself is accessible by foot within three and a half hours of low tide—be sure to check a tide chart before visiting as the tide can come up quickly. A large gravel bar connects the island to Deer Isle when the tide is out, and visitors may cross over and explore the small island’s rocky shoreline. Sightings of seals, ospreys, terns, and even the occasional eagle are common. At any tide, the beach and rocks along the Deer Isle shore are accessible for exploring, picnicking, and resting.
The return loop skirts the shoreline before joining up with the main trail.
The parking lot for Barred Island is located on Goose Cove Road, off Sunset Road. There is limited parking space, and the IHT requests that only six carloads of visitors use the preserve at once.