QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 2,019 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~7 miles in network
- Pets: no
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: abandoned farm houses, sweeping meadows, campground, old cemeteries
My map is not yet complete! The red line is the 4.5-mile long dirt road that extends the length of the island. The rest of the lines represent footpaths (the green is a wheelchair accessible trail.)
This is a magical place. Most people travel to the island via a short ferry ride across the river from downtown Richmond (it takes about 30 seconds to cross). It’s $8 for an adult day pass; young children are free. The island, which is managed by the state, is open from May 1 to the end of October.
I visited here the first weekend in October, 2015, (and again in July, 2020) and fell in love, like so many visitors have done before me. There are abandoned farm houses (the island was deserted in the 1930s), a long and well-documented history with lots of tragic stories, sweeping meadows, a bucolic campground, a cemeteries, about seven miles of walking on trails and dirt road, and lots of wildlife (we saw baby turkey. You can also rent one of the island bicycles and even a canoe/kayak. The island is four miles long, 2,019 acres, .5- to .75-miles wide, and has freshwater tidal flats. There are at least two small ponds. Its biggest population reached 100 people in 1860.
Definitely don’t miss this spot! The ferry runs several times a day and you need to make a reservation.
There is a .6-mile loop close to the campground, the Beaver Pond Trail, that is wheelchair accessible. My favorite part of the miles of footpaths extends from E to D on the official map, it’s called the East Side Trail. This section is roughly 2 miles long, and you walk along a mown trail along the edge of meadows filled with wildflowers. (You can make it shorter about halfway through; there’s a leg not shown on my map that connects to the main road.)
Directions: Take I-295 to exit 43 (Richmond/Litchfield). Follow Rte.197 east for three miles to Richmond Village. Turn left at the T-junction at the bottom of the hill (intersection of Rtes. 197 and 24). The Swan Island parking lot is on your immediate right, and has a large State of Maine sign.