My Dad was born and raised in Searsport ME. Growing up we spent a lot of time exploring the island, at least once a year when dad was alive we would walk around the island (via the beach). This would take just about the full 6 hours that the tide is out. We would take lunch to enjoy on the walk, it was a fun family day. Even to this day Earl and I will take a lunch and spend the day walking on Sears Island.
On the last leg of our walk
Sears Island, one of the prettiest and most controversial nature preserves in Maine.
Sears Island, located off the coast of Searsport, is the largest undeveloped, uninhabited island accessible by causeway on the Eastern seaboard. About 600 of the island’s 940 acres are protected by a 2009 state conservation easement that prohibits any development. The volunteer Friends of Sears Island and the nonprofit Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserve the island’s natural ecosystem, manage its trails, and host educational tours of the area.
You can drive out to the end of the causeway but not on the island, as it is restricted to walkers, hikers, and cyclists. Visitors can meander around the island on any one of the numerous trails (six are maintained), enjoy the gorgeous views of the bay, or lounge on any one of the beaches bordering the island.
As we start our walk around the island
Besides its family-friendly outdoor appeal, Sears Island is rich in history. The Wabanaki tribe called it Wassumkeag or “shining beach” and lived, hunted, and fished on it. Some of the area’s earliest European settlers also lived and labored on the island. Since the turn of the last century, environmentalists and recreationalists have been fighting industry to protect the island from development. The current conservation easement is the latest settlement in the ongoing back and forth, and though it should protect the land well into the future, it has been challenged in court.
The debate about how much to industrialize this area continues, which makes Sears Island not only a great example of Maine’s coastal ecosystem but also of its land use challenges.
Walking on Sears Island
I love this shot of all the shells on the island
There are many places to walk on Sears Island; the island is 2 miles north to south; maintained trails are marked *; mileages on trails are approximate.
Shoreline Trail – about 5 mi. around; some places are impassable when the tide is in because of steep banks, so please consider the tide before you start;
Jetty Road – about 1.5 mi., most of which is paved; for a lovely view down the bay walk up the rise on the left at the end of the road, to a space next to some birches;
Tower Road – the gravel road that branches left off the paved road – about 2 mi. from the gate to the tower now used by cell phone companies; from the tower it’s about 300 yds. to a high bank at the shore, this path is overgrown;
*Homestead Trail – about 0.67 mi., begins at the apple tree on the northeast end of the island and comes out to the Tower Road; just before a field look to the left for remains of the cellar of the old farmhouse;
*Loop Trail – about 0.4 mi., begins and ends at the Tower Rd., branches arching overhead are charming in winter snow and peaceful any time of year;
*Blue Trail – about 0.35 mi., begins beyond Loop Trail off Tower Rd. and leads to a beach with views to east and a nice spot for lunch;
*Green Trail – accessed from the Jetty Rd. and leads about 0.6 mi. west, across a stream to the west shore; you can walk back to the gate along the shore at half tide or lower.
* – maintained by FOSI
Enjoy the trails at your own risk. Please follow these guidelines so others may enjoy them too:
No fires are allowed on the island.
“Carry in/Carry out” and leave no waste on the island.
If you are walking with your dog(s) please use baggies for their waste and place the baggies in the waste barrel.
Note: Hunting is permitted on Sears Island during the “open” seasons – please be mindful of this.