Located in the heart of Muscongus Bay, 15-acre Black Island welcomes visitors to camp, picnic, hike, and take in spectacular views from its rugged shoreline.
Black Island is great for:
Camping - Spend a night at one of the island’s two scenic campsites. The first is just inland from the small landing beach on the northwestern shore and the other is about a third of the way down the eastern shore.
Hiking - Walk the island’s new short trail to the south end of the island to enjoy spectacular views toward Harbor and Wreck islands and outer Muscongus Bay.
Shoreline exploration - Traverse the island’s northern and eastern shoreline to discover its varied terrain, which features a few pockets of gravel beach and fringing salt marsh, bold headland, and geologically varied ledge.
How to get there
Black Island is at the geographic center of Muscongus Bay, just southwest of Cranberry Island and Friendship Long Island. Boating conditions can be challenging in Muscongus Bay: this relatively shallow body of water is exposed to the southwest, and can whip up into white caps quickly on summer afternoons. Paddlers and small boaters should pay particular attention to marine forecasts and look for routes that offer protection—especially during the afternoon. Small boats can land on the gravel beach on the northwestern shoreline, and larger boats can anchor just north of this beach—taking care to avoid the ledges that extend north from the western side of the beach.
There is a good, though part-tide, boat launch in Round Pond, 4.5 miles as the crow flies to the west. Friendship Town Landing is roughly 3.5 miles to the north, but parking is limited and this ramp, too, is part-tide, and quite steep. Kayaks can launch from the end of Bradford Point Road, also in Friendship, and find protection from the wind along either shore of Friendship Long Island.
Notes on topography, flora, and fauna
Like so many small Midcoast islands, Black Island is ringed with a fringe of spruce-fir forest that gives way to hay-scented fern meadow in the interior. The trail leads from the south end of the northwestern campsite and runs southwest through fern and forest to the stunning granite ledges of the island’s south end. A small patch of salt marsh on the northern shore gives way to fine gravel beach, and a backdrop of rugosa rose and gooseberry—come in late June and enjoy the ripe gooseberries; they are fantastic!
Black Island’s geology is also of interest. Here, visitors can see where the rounded, light-colored granite of the Waldoboro Formation gives way abruptly to the dramatic Bucksport Formation, most visible along the island’s eastern shore. The island is undeveloped now, but once supported a lobsterman and his wife. They had a homestead where the so-called “Lilac Campsite” is now on the western shore. As the name suggests, lilacs surround the site, and the remains of the old house are still visible at the edge of the site.
How Black Island became open to the public
MCHT first conserved Black Island in 2005, in partnership with Chewonki. Chewonki became the owner in order to incorporate the island into their programming. At the same time, MCHT acquired a conservation easement on the island, thus guaranteeing public access and limiting development. In 2015, as Chewonki’s programming use was dwindling, MCHT purchased the island outright, to enhance public access opportunities in the Midcoast region.
- Camp At Established Campsites Only
- Limit Stay to 2 Nights
- Commercial Users by Permission Only. Please call 207-729-7366.
- Fires By Permit Only - Maine State Law (island preserves only)
- Contact Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777 for permit
- Keep All Fires Below High Tide Line – Do Not Build Fire Rings
- Do Not Cut or Break Tree Limbs, Dead or Alive
- Leave No Fire Unattended
- Completely Extinguish All Fires
- Carry Out All Trash
- Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
- Keep Pets Under Strict Voice or Leash Control