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Seal Bay & Winter Harbor

Located in Vinalhaven, Seal Bay and Winter Harbor are known for their scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, and protected anchorage.

Seal Bay and Winter Harbor are great for:

Sailing - Explore the region’s beauty from the water, surrounded by acres of conservation land.

Hiking - Traverse gentle, rolling trails at the Carrying Place and Huber Preserves, both offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

How to get there

To reach the Carrying Place Preserve parking area and trailhead, follow Calderwood Neck Road 1.0 mile east from its junction with North Haven Road. The parking area is on the right.

Directions to the Huber Preserve can be found here.

The islands of Seal Bay may be accessed by small boats via a launch on the northeastern shore of the Carrying Place Preserve. This ramp is only usable by small trailer boats at mid tide or better. Kayakers can launch at any tide, though there are extensive mud flats at low tide. A paved, all-tide ramp in Stonington offers access for larger boats, but requires a nearly 8-mile crossing of eastern Penobscot Bay.

The state run Vinalhaven Ferry has limited space for vehicles. Reservations should be made in advance, especially during summer months. Another option is to tour the island with a bicycle. The Carrying Place Preserve and Huber Preserve trailheads are roughly four miles from the ferry terminal.

Get directions from Google Maps Printable preserve map (371KB PDF)

For a complete map with legend and guidelines, click on the Printable Preserve Map above.

Multiple preserves available

  1. Carrying Place Preserve: This 13-acre preserve features a short 0.5-loop trail where visitors can view the bay and look for resident wildlife in the mostly oak and birch forest. The Carrying Place Preserve also has a boat launch site that small boats and kayaks can use to access the bay. During low tide, this part of Winter Harbor has extensive mudflats frequented by clammers.
  2. Huber Preserve: More information on this 96-acre preserve, which includes the Burnt Islands, can be found here.
  3. Penobscot Island, David’s Island, and Little Smith Island: MCHT’s Penobscot Island Preserve includes most of the island’s 258 acres. The remaining 7 acres, located on the northeast tip, are privately owned with a cottage. This portion of the island is protected with a conservation easement held by MCHT. Please do not land on this property. The David’s Island Preserve includes all of the 27-acre island and the Little Smith Island Preserve encompasses the entirety of that island’s 4 acres. All three are managed as forever wild preserves with no trails or other amenities. They are best experienced from the shoreline. They each offer quiet picnic sites in the heart of Seal Bay.

Notes on topography, flora & fauna

Seal Bay and Winter Harbor are on the east side of Vinalhaven, and to some they appear to form an open mouth, with Penobscot Island as the tongue. This “mouth” opens up to eastern Penobscot Bay, but most of the waters contained within the bay are sheltered by Bluff Head and other nearby islands.

Today, it is home to five MCHT preserves: Penobscot Island, David’s Island, Little Smith Island, Carrying Place, and Huber. In addition, the region includes several MCHT and Vinalhaven Land Trust (VLT) conservation easements, one VLT preserve, and two state-owned islands.

How this place became open to the public

MCHT acquired these island preserves over multiple years with the help of generous landowners and financial contributions from many supporters.

This place belongs to all of us. Help us take care of it!

Preserve information/guidelines

  • No Camping Permitted
  • No Fires Permitted
  • Stay on Established Trails
    • Foot Traffic Only - Trails Are Not Suitable for Wheeled Vehicles
  • Carry Out All Trash
    • Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
  • Keep Pets Under Control
  • Please Respect the Privacy of Preserve Neighbors