Isle au Haut, Maine

Camp at Acadia National Park's Duck Harbor

3 Miles Total - 150 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Chris DeAntonio

Skip the crowds, tour buses and traffic headaches and see the "off the grid" part of Acadia National Park. It's like having an island all to yourself.


Didn't think there was backpacking to be done in Acadia National Park?  Think again!  Isle au Haut (pronounced "isle ah ho") is a little island off of Stonington, Maine.  Half of the island is a quiet and quaint New England island community and the other half is part of Acadia National Park, thanks to a generous donation by the island's founders.

This trip takes a bit of planning.  You will actually have to write a check and mail a letter (gasp!) to get the required permit from the National Park Service, but the extra effort is worth it.  With its 18 miles of trails, featuring rocky shorelines, wooded uplands, marshes, bogs, tidal coves and a small freshwater lake, Isle au Haut gives you all of the features and sights of "Acadia Proper" without the mobs of people and congestion.  And if you go in the fall, it will feel like you have an island all unto yourself.  

Getting There

The one and only way to get to the island is by a passenger ferry boat from Stonington.  You need to make a reservation with Isle au Haut Boat Services and then drive and park in Stonington.  There is parking available in walking distance to the ferry service for a $10.00 / day.  When you arrive, just ask the boat services employees for directions.  It's a two minute walk.  The ferry runs on a schedule so you will need to make sure you line up your itinerary with the ferry's pick up times.  They also take credit card payment on the boat, which makes it really easy.  During peak tourist season, the ferry can drop you off right at Duck Harbor.  However, if you go past a certain date in the fall, it will only drop you at Town Landing, which means you have an approx. 3 mile hike across the island to reach Duck Harbor.  It just became a little backpacking trip! The good part about this is that there is a general store in Town Landing, should you need to stock up on any last-minute supplies. Check the boat service website for more details.  They're very friendly and helpful.

Camping at Duck Harbor

To stay more than a day on the island and camp at the one campground called Duck Harbor, you must apply for a permit here.  Camping is permitted from May 15 - October 15.  Backcountry camping is not permitted on the island.  The campground has five lean-to shelters and each site allows a maximum of six people.  Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table.  The campground has a compostable toilet (pretty nice as of 2016) and a hand pump for fresh water about a 5-7 minute walk from the lean-to's.  Rangers visit the campground once / day and do check for permits.

Hiking on the Island

There are 18 miles of great, secluded hiking trails on the island. Check out the map here to get started. 

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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