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The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back

The trip-planning platform for bivalve lovers feels fresher after a relaunch.

The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back
By Will Grunewald
Photographed by Mark Fleming
From our September 2021 issue

Purists often enjoy their half-shell oysters unadorned by even a dab of mignonette or a spritz of lemon. In the vernacular, those are “naked” oysters, and they’re an invigorating, if acquired, taste of the sea. In other contexts, naked isn’t always a good thing. The original version of the Maine Oyster Trail, for instance, felt a bit too naked. When Maine Sea Grant, the Maine Aquaculture Association, the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension kicked off the trail in 2017, it was a bare-bones list of oyster farms and oyster-shucking restaurants, potentially useful but not real user-friendly. Thanks to some reenvisioning inspired by the popular Maine Beer Trail, plus a grant from the Maine Office of Tourism, the new platform is a much handier guide to a coastal Maine mollusk crawl. An easily sortable interactive map points travelers to whatever suits their interests — raw bars down east, shuck trucks on the midcoast, farm tours around Casco Bay — and generates an itinerary for multiple stops. Plus, there’s a new Oyster Passport program: register online, enter codes from participating venues, and earn Maine Oyster Trail swag by racking up visits. The oyster trail is a far more appealing resource now that it’s all dressed up.


1986

The year the trail’s oldest oyster farm, Pemaquid Oyster Co., opened. Maine’s oldest operating oyster farm, Dodge Cove Marine Farms, opened nine years earlier.

The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back
The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back

216

Miles of driving between the oyster grower farthest down east on the trail, Waukeag Neck Oyster Co., in Sorrento, and farthest south, Southern Maine Sea Farms, in Kittery, both of which offer farm tours and direct oyster sales.

3

Unique check-ins at participating oyster operations, via the new Oyster Passport, to earn a Maine Oyster Trail–branded koozie. More visits fetch additional prizes: a baseball cap, a canvas tote, and, after 50 check-ins, a secret grand prize.

The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back
The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back

2,286,326

Pounds of oysters harvested last year, down about a million pounds from the previous year on account of the pandemic’s deflating effect on seafood markets but still more than double the haul from just a decade earlier.

7

Participating growers on the midcoast’s New Meadows River, the densest stretch of the trail — a rich environment for oysters and for travelers looking to fill out their Oyster Passports.

The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back
The Maine Oyster Trail Is Back

74

Oyster-related businesses, from sea farms to raw bars to kayak tours to oyster food trucks, that have joined the Maine Oyster Trail.


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