Starboard Rock Sanctuary, Vinalhaven
I love the way Vinalhaven Land Trust introduces this preserve on its pamphlet: “Welcome to one of the most dramatic promontories on the Maine coast!” That is no exaggeration. This place, with its sweeping views down the harbor and over to Acadia, is extraordinary. I wish I had been able to watch a sunrise or sunset here.
You can’t bring dogs, and you also have to park at a small lot just under 1 mile from the trail up to the rock. If the lot is full—and I think it can only squeeze in about three cars—you’re not allowed to park along the road shoulders.
After walking 0.3 miles on Young Road, look for the small footpath on the right. It’ll bring you out onto Starboard Road. Look for the painted blazes on telephone poles, and eventually on trees to stay on the right route. You’ll pass a couple more houses before reaching the footpath on your right. At this point, you’ll scramble up a steepish path alongside looming mossy boulders to the big, open clifftop with pitch pine forest and what the trust calls crowberry-bayberry and goose-tongue open headland. There’s a short loop, 0.2 miles, at the top.
Directions: From the ferry, go left on Sands Road for 0.4 miles, turn right on Old Harbor Road for 0.3 miles, bear slightly left onto North Haven Road for 1.9 miles, then bear left onto Calderwood Neck Road for 3.7 miles. This road will turn to dirt and become Young Road after making a hairpin turn. Keep going straight, bearing right in a quarter mile or so. At this point, the road can get a bit rough. Look for the small lot and kiosk on your right.