Acadia National Park

Isle au Haut
Gorp.com
Map of Acadia National Park
Map of Acadia National Park

"High Island" is the English translation for Isle au Haut, the name given by the great French navigator Samuel Champlain during his exploration of the Maine coast in 1604. Although shell heaps along the island's shores tell of an Indian presence long before Champlain's arrival, it wasn't until the end of the American Revolution that farmers, fishermen, and boat builders came to the island in large numbers.

In the 1880s a small summer community, attracted by agreeable weather and idyllic scenery, was established. In 1943 heirs of the founder of that community donated portions of Isle au Haut to the federal government as part of Acadia National Park. Because of their generosity, much of the island's beauty and solitude is yours to experience and enjoy. Although about half of Isle au Haut is federal park land, the other half is privately owned, supporting summer residents and a year-round fishing community.

Access

Remote and inaccessible to automobile traffic, Isle au Haut is linked to the mainland by a mailboat from Stonington, which does not operate on postal holidays. No auto ferry exists. For current fare and schedule information, contact: Isle au Haut Ferry Company, P.O. Box 709, Sea Breeze Avenue, Stonington, ME 04651, or call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Saturday at 207-367-5193.

Important: Year-round, the mailboat runs to the Town Landing. From mid-June through early September (not on Sundays), the boat also goes to Duck Harbor. Park rangers encourage visitors to ride to Duck Harbor, which is located in the heart of the park area. The mailboat operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Since there is a limit on the number of visitors allowed in the Isle au Haut section of Acadia, day trippers may, on rare occasion, be denied access to the park. If you are leading an organized day-use group to Isle au Haut, you must correspond with the park to arrange boat space. (This visitor limit does not apply to overnight campers holding camping reservations.)

Hiking

For avid hikers, there are 18 miles of trails that offer opportunities to explore rocky shoreline, wooded uplands, marshes, bogs, and a mile-long freshwater lake. Come prepared for rough and sometimes wet trails. Bring adequate footgear, warm clothing, and raingear. From late June through early September, boat service to Duck Harbor will provide the best starting point for hiking. During the summer, a park ranger will board the mailboat at the town landing to answer your questions about Isle au Haut. Upon arriving at Duck Harbor, you may elect to take a hike with the park ranger or explore on your own.

Biking

Park rangers discourage biking on Isle au Haut for the following reasons: Only four miles of road are paved and appropriate for narrow-tired touring bikes. The rest of the road is very rough and suitable only for non-motorized mountain bikes. Mountain bikes cannot be used on hiking trails. The mail boat will only drop off and pick up bikes at the Town Landing.

Camping

Five lean-to shelters at Duck Harbor Campground can be used on an advance reservation basis from May 14 through October 15. (See reservation information below.) The shelters have three sides, a roof, and floor, and hold up to six people. A small freestanding tent may be erected inside the lean-to only. Facilities include a fire ring, a picnic table, a pit toilet, and a hand pump for water. The pump is located about 1,600 feet from the shelters, so bring a container to carry water. Dead and down wood may be gathered for campfires. There is no trash disposal. All trash must be carried out. Pets are not permitted in the campground.

Check-out time is 11 a.m. From late June through early September, boat service to Duck Harbor brings you to the campground. Whenever the boat does not run to Duck Harbor, it will leave you at the Town Landing, so you should always be prepared to backpack five miles to Duck Harbor Campground. Confirm boat schedule and destination with the captain.

For more information on this campground call 207-288-3338.

Reservation Information

Follow the instructions below to apply for a campsite at Duck Harbor Campground.

  • Reservation requests for a Special Use Permit must be received in person at park headquarters or must be postmarked April 1 or later. Applications delivered or postmarked before April 1 will be returned without action. Telephone requests are not accepted. There is a limit of one stay per season, per person, or group. Requests should be sent to: Acadia National Park, P.O. Box 177, Bar Harbor, ME, 04609, attention Isle au Haut Reservations.
  • Before completing the Reservation Request Form, contact the Isle au Haut Ferry Company, P.O. Box 709, Sea Breeze Avenue, Stonington, ME, 04651, or call 207-367-5193 for the boat schedule. Print name, address, daytime and evening telephone number, and the number of people in the space provided. Enter your choice of dates in the block provided. Due to high demand for campsites, you are more likely to receive a reservation confirmation if you apply for alternative dates. "Departure date" indicates the day you actually leave the campground. Remember that you cannot arrive or depart from Isle au Haut on postal holidays because the mailboat does not operate on these days.
  • If you have your own boat or will otherwise be arriving independently, please indicate this on your request.
  • When you travel to Isle au Haut, bring your Special Use permit along; you will need to show it to the mailboat captain and the park ranger when you arrive.

Services

A small store and post office, both with limited hours, are located near the Town Landing. There are no private campgrounds.

There is no trash disposal on the island, in town or in the park. Carry out what you carry in.


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