You'll need to take the ferry to the island.
The ferry departs from Stonington, on Deer Isle. No auto ferry is available. For
current ferry schedules and fare information, see contact information listed
at bottom of page.
The small, 10 square mile island of Isle au Haut lies about seven miles off the Maine coast in Penobscot Bay. About one-half of the island (southern part) is part of Acadia National Park, the other half is privately owned. It is as far from being "the typical coastal tourist island" as you can get and a cycling adventure you won't soon forget. The island is inaccessible to automobile traffic, there are few amenities, no little shops or restaurants, and accomodations are sparse.
In the Park Service brochure offered to park visitors, biking is discouraged on the Isle due to the "rough, unpaved conditions of the roads". I know you are saying, "So much the better for us mountain bikers! What more could we ask for? An automobile free, breathtakingly beautiful Maine coastal island away from the hordes to explore on our mountain bikes!"
Because services on the island are limited, careful trip planning and timing is important. Bring enough food and water. If you are day-tripping, leave adequate time to catch the boat back to Stonington. The mailboat runs to the Town Landing year round but from mid-June through early September (except Sundays) the mailboat also stops at Duck Harbor (Acadia Park section). The weather can change on a dime so bring extra clothing. There is no trash disposal on the island, in town or in the Park so you must carry out what you carry in.
There are five miles of paved roads and about 7+ miles of unpaved roads. The terrain varies from smooth crushed stone in places to maintained dirt roads and rugged 4WD trails. There are also nearly 18 miles of hiking trails. Mountain bikes cannot be used on the hiking trails.
As you can see by looking at the simplified map above, it is possible to
do a circuit of the Isle.
This is a bike and hike kind of place. At many points along your route you can leave your bike at trail heads where they intersect the road and go for hikes to see some of the Isle's features. You will need detailed maps which are available at the Park Ranger Stations or it is likely you can get a map of the Isle on the mailboat before you disembark.
There are several options for the start of your trip. If you disembark at Town Landing you can either head north, going clockwise around the Isle or south. It's best to head south towards the Park area of the Isle getting the more rugged stuff under your tires and finishing up the loop on the paved road.
You can also opt to disembark at Duck Harbor and do a shorter excursion by riding 4 miles south on Western Head road. At the end of the road you can leave your bike and spend time doing a circuit hike on the Cliff Trail for astounding views of the Gulf of Maine and the surf crashing against 50 foot high cliffs.
Camping is permitted on Isle au Haut from May 15 to October 15 and requires obtaining a special use permit in advance.
High Island" is the English translation for Isle au Haut, the name given by the great French navigator, Samuel Champlain, during his explorations of the Maine coast in 1604. Although shell heaps along the island's shores tell of an Indian presence long before Champlain's arrival, it wasn't until the end of the American Revolution that farmers, fishermen and boat builders came to the island in large numbers.
*Isle au Haut historical information on this page is taken from the Isle au Haut Acadia National Park Service printed brochure.
For more information:
Acadia National Park
Phone: (207) 288-333 (Visitor information)
For current ferry fare and schedule information, contact:
Isle au Haut Company
Telephone: 207 367-6516