Think you need a boat of your own to get to Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s island preserves? Well, think again. For example, Vinalhaven, the largest and most populated island in Penobscot Bay, is a 75-minute ferry ride from the mainland and offers expansive preserves and undeveloped islands for exploration—plus a peek into life on an unbridged island.
Alongside our partners at Vinalhaven Land Trust (VLT), Maine Coast Heritage Trust has helped protect many of the most iconic places on the island, and owns and cares for 2,364 acres. Most Vinalhaven preserves are more than a mile from the ferry land and village, so you’ll want to bring a bike or car.
Kirk Gentalen, MCHT’s regional steward, encourages you to stay a couple of days if you can. “The adventure begins on the ferry, so don’t waste a second,” Kirk advises. “I’ve seen a snowy owl and a dovekie from the ferry in winter, and in the summer there can be whales and porpoises. Seals sun on the ledges year-round.”
Kirk encourage visitors to make the eight-mile trek from the village out to VLT’s North Perry Creek Preserve, which offers six miles of trails, elevated panoramic views, and the “feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.” He also loves paddling on the Basin, a large tidal embayment along completely surrounded by lands co-owned and managed by MCHT and VLT. This place is filled with wildlife—seals, great blue herons, eagles, and ospreys are common sights. The Basin is also known to attract Barrow’s Goldeneye and White-winged and Red Crossbills, species that rarely make it to the mainland.
No matter where you go, “Don’t forget to wave,” says Kirk. And please let him know if you see some cool critters!
Be sure to do your research & reserve ferry tickets ahead of time here.