Scott’s Landing, Deer Isle
The Island Heritage Trust says this is one of the island’s best places for birding, and was once a productive spot for Native Americans to fish. The preserve includes fields, woods, and a beach where you can see a midden where native people discarded shells. There are many places to duck out onto the beach from the trail system. The land trust has created a self-guided tour of this interesting spot.
Directions: Turn into the preserve driveway off Route 15, soon after the causeway. The entrance is across from Causeway Bay.
Shore Acres Preserve, Deer Isle
There are nice views here, out over Greenlaw Cove. And as you walk through the forest, alongside the coastline, light filters through the forest (if it’s sunny, that is!), creating that sparkling yet diffuse light you only find by the sea. I recommend walking the perimeter trail to the Meadow Trail. The trails are flat and so easy in that sense, but they are very rooty. I like these self-guided tours the Island Heritage Trust creates for its preserves.
Directions: From Route 15 on Deer Isle, turn left onto Sunshine Road, across from the gas station. Go 1.2 miles down Sunshine Road before bearing left onto Greenlaw District Road. After a mile, the preserve trail head and parking lot on the right.
Pine Hill Preserve, Deer Isle
A .1-mile dirt road takes you to an open area in front of the Pine Hill ledge face, impressively jagged and painted with graffiti. Look for the narrow path to your right if you want to scramble up the cliff for a view through tree tops of Deer Isle. Take care with your footing.
The quarry here provided stone for the island causeway in the 1930s. The rock, serpentinized peridotite, is quite rare, as are some of the lichens, mosses, ferns, liverworts and other plants that thrive on its unique chemistry.
Directions: Turn off Route 15 onto Eggmoggin Road. In .2 miles, take a left onto Blastow Cove Road. In .2 miles, you’ll see the trailhead and small parking area for Pine Hill.
Barred Island Preserve, Deer Isle
One time I came across a description of a Maine preserve as a “moss garden.” Since then, I’ve been through a lot of lush, beautiful moss gardens, particularly in Downeast Maine. But Barred Island, in my mind, has the greenest, thickest blanket of moss I’ve yet come across in a coastal forest. It’s beautiful. In addition, you’ll walk through shadowy forests, with the sun sending shafts of light through the trees, and even darker, denser spruce forests. You can climb up to a small rocky knob with a just okay view, and finally, come out on an expansive sandy beach (at low tide) that connects to a little, scrubby island. Be very careful: the inviting tidal bar connecting the mainland to the island is covered with five feet of water during high tide. So only cross when you have plenty of time before the tide rolls in. Here is a self-guided nature trail to this wonderful preserve.
It’s just about 1 mile from the parking area to the beach.
Directions: From Route 15, turn left onto Goose Cove Road. Keep to the left at the intersections to the small lot and trail head. Island Heritage Trust says if the lot is full, you must turn back as you’re not allowed to park along the road. So here’s another reason to visit off season!
Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, Deer Isle
The quality of light here, when the sun is shining, is extraordinary, like so much of the forested Downeast coast (on the right days!). There is a good length of trail that passes along the water’s edge at this 145-acre preserve, so you get a good dose of this kind of diffuse light here. In addition, there are the remains of what appears to be, in the eyes of a walker in the year 2019, a once idyllic 19th-century homestead, with an apple orchard and grassy fields sloping down to a pier on a protected cove. It was farmed by Roswell Davis from 1873 to sometime in the mid-20th century.
While there aren’t too many ups and downs, there are a lot of exposed roots and uneven trails throughout the cove. The easiest path is to the homestead from the entrance road.
The highlight of the preserve, I believe, is its “pocket beach” in a little cove, with mauve sand and views of far-off islands that sometimes appear to be floating above the ocean horizon.
Directions: Driving south from Deer Isle on Route 15, turn left onto Sunshine Road, across from the gas station. Follow Sunshine Road 2.5 miles before turning right onto Tennis Road. There are several small parking areas along Tennis Road, which you can see on the land trust’s map.
Lisa Tolman Wotton Nature Preserve, Deer Isle
The cedar forests are remarkable on this 42-acre preserve, which also includes a field and a high rocky outcrop called Spinney Ledge.
Directions: Shortly after the bridge to Deer Isle, take a right onto Eggmoggin Road. In .2 miles, turn left onto Blastow Cove Road. Go 1 mile to the preserve trail head and parking area on your right.
Mariners Memorial Park, Deer Isle
A track follows the slope of the meadow down to the shore if you just want to quickly take in the views at this beautiful park dedicated to those lost at sea. Or you can walk the half-mile perimeter trail.
Directions: Turn left off Route 15 at the gas station onto Sunshine Road. Take your immediate right onto Morey Farm Lane and take a left at the gate with a sign for the park. If the gate is closed (as it was when I was there in the winter), there is space really just for one car.
Lily Pond Park, Deer Isle
Around this popular swimming spot, you can amble along a few short, wide and easy trails. They are easy enough for most wheelchairs and strollers. There also appear to be two unofficial, scraggly, unmarked trails heading off around the pond from the beach. The one on the right, if you are standing on the beach looking out over the water, seems to be better used and is easy to follow until it ends at some high boulders along the lakeside.
The Island Heritage Trust has also recently protected additional acres on the other side of the lake, off of King Row, that may be turned into more trails.
On a hot summer afternoon, the grassy area at the tip of the pond turns into an idyllic scene. People are relaxing on blankets and reading books, kids and dogs are playing, and swimmers are doing strokes out beyond the lily pads to the more open water of the clean, clear, warm pond. The town has set up a changing area and bathroom for lake goers.
Directions: The best place to access the park is off Quaco Road, where there is a large parking area. You can also access the park from Deer Run, but there is less parking here. Both streets can be reached via Route 15, the main thoroughfare of the island.