Located in Eastport, this 14-acre island preserve that is accessible during low tides invites exploration in a wild corner of Maine’s easternmost city.
Matthews Island is great for:
Birdwatching - Pack your binoculars and scan the surrounding waters and shoreline for resident waterfowl, shorebirds, eagles, and migrating songbirds.
Hiking - Enjoy the short trail that leads across the island, offering pleasant scenery and many opportunities to spot wildlife.
How to get there
Matthews Island may be accessed via a right-of-way that begins at the end of Deep Cove Road. The right of way leads through private property and over a bar to the island (exposed at low to mid tides). From the intersection of Route 1 and Route 190 in Perry, take Route 190 for approximately 5.5 miles into Eastport. Turn right on Deep Cove Road and continue 1.6 miles. Park at the end of the tar road on the right. Follow the gravel drive 0.2 mile to the footpath that leads through the field to the exposed bar. Please respect the privacy of the landowners, stay on the path, and do not dawdle on your way to the island. We promise there’s plenty to enjoy once you’re there! Access to Matthews Island is also possible from the water, with the ideal landing spot on the southern side of the bar that connects Matthews with tiny Sumac island.
Watch the tides
From the parking area, follow the right of way 0.3 mile through private property (please stay on this 20-foot wide right-of-way) to the water’s edge. Matthews Island is only accessible for 2.5 hours on either side of low tide. When the tide comes in the currents can be very swift and dangerous–even in shallow water. You should not attempt to cross, if water is moving over the bar. Once on the island, a quarter mile trail leads across the preserve, allowing visitors to look for birds and other wildlife.
Notes on topography, flora & fauna
The 14-acre Matthews Island Preserve is located in eastern Cobscook Bay, in an important feeding area for migratory shore birds. Once burned to promote blueberries, the flora is now a mix of raspberries, blackberries and alders with forest trees on the north end. Beware of the invasive red fire ants that are common in the Eastport area. Bites are painful and be sure to check your gear closely to not bring any of these annoying insects home with you. Connected to the mainland from low tide to mid tide, the island rises steeply from the shoreline on all sides and is surrounded by vast mudflats. Matthews Island also features 4,100 feet of saltwater frontage, a bald eagle nest site, and is highly visible to motorists heading south into the city of Eastport.
Matthews Island is available to the public for low-impact outdoor recreation and shellfish and other marine resource harvesting during daylight hours.
If the island could talk
There is a long history of human activity on the island. It is located in Carrying Place Cove, where the Passamaquoddy would carry their canoes across the bar to access Cobscook Bay. Part of a 1765 land grant to Robert Bell, Captain Charles Matthews purchased the island in 1798 and raised his eight children there. The Captain called it home until his death in 1849. Decades ago, the island was mostly open and served as a favorite destination for berry picking.
Help protect resident eagles
In addition to attracting bald eagles, the habitat on and around the island is popular with sandpipers, plovers, and other migratory shorebirds. Please view all wildlife from a distance and stay clear of the eagle nest on the island’s north end from March 1 to August 30.
How this place became open to the public
MCHT acquired the island in 2012.
This place belongs to all of us. Help us take care of it!
- No Camping Permitted
- Fires By Permit Only - Maine State Law
- 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
- Foot Traffic Only – Preserve is Not Suitable for Wheeled Vehicles
- Carry Out All Trash
- Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
- Dogs are not permitted
- Please Respect the Privacy of Preserve Neighbors and stay on the 20 foot right of way.
- From March 1 to August 30, please stay away from the north side of the island because of nesting eagles.
- Do Not Remove Archaeological Artifacts