Acadia Favorites: Isle au Haut


From our June 2016 issue.

The park’s car-free (for visitors, anyway) island outpost in Penobscot Bay is low on traffic and amenities, big on tranquility. Quiet beaches and ponds are as much a draw as the 540-foot Mount Champlain that gives the rugged “high island” its name.

Isle au Haut Light

Isle au Haut Light

Sometimes called Robinson Point Light, it’s among Maine’s most rarely glimpsed lighthouses, best viewed from the mail boat on its return trip. The keeper’s house is a B&B — the island’s only lodging and the only way to get the postcard view from the white wooden gangway. 207-335-2990

Cliff Trail

The coast-hugging, sporadically steep Cliff Trail packs several gasp-inducing overlooks into just .7 mile (make it a 3ish-mile loop with the similarly dramatic Western Head Trail). Waves pound tall granite outcroppings, but at low tide, you can scamper onto a tiny picnic island called Western Ear.

Duck Harbor Campground

Among the most desirable camping experiences in the National Park system: between mid-May and mid-October, no more than 30 nightly campers share five lean-tos (with hand-pumped water and composting toilets), steps away from trails and rocky beaches. Reserve early by mail.

The Mail Boat

It’s a 45-minute ride from Stonington to the Isle au Haut town dock — plenty of time to make friends among the crates and cargo on the snug mail-boat-cum-ferry. Schedules vary seasonally; the trip, through spruce-and-granite former quarry islands, is scenic any time of year.

Photographs: (Top) The Cliff Trail on Isle au Haut accesses dramatic granite bluffs at deep cove, Tom Blagden Jr., from Acadia National Park: A Centennial Celebration; Benjamin Williamson (lighthouse)