"The wildest part of Acadia National Park"
Isle au Haut, Maine
Part III of Exploring Acadia

If you've been keeping up with the last couple of posts, this is the wildest portion of Acadia National Park. Mt Desert Island is rugged, but a veritable jungle of tourists at times. The mainland portion of Acadia NP, the Schoodic Peninsula, is a pleasant hiking place with a tenth of the visitors. However, Isle au Haut (the island) is perhaps the best part of the park because its also an adventure simply to get there!

Map of Isle au Haut
(copyright USNPS)
"Isle au Haut" is an island south of the town of Stonington, Maine. Like most things in "Downeast Maine" it has strong French heritage; hence the name "Isle au Haut". For those of you who were wondering, it the English pronunciation of "Isle au Haut" is pronounced "Eye-la-hoe" as if it were one word. The town of Isle au Haut is a lobstering town with only 79 year long residents. Its a classic, sleepy little Maine town with the basic necessities. Getting there is not complicated, but it is rustic; you ride on a mail boat! The mail boat leaves out of Stonington at 36$ for a round trip. It makes a perfect weekend backpacking trip.
Hiking trails on Isle Au Haut
Hiking on Isle au Haut

There are 18 miles of hiking trails along the island. Acadia National Park owns most of the island, but the town is worth seeing as well. If you take the mail boat, you will be dropped of in the town. The town is quaint, but bare on tourist services. It has an inn and a general store, but you should pack as if you are going on a wilderness backpacking trip. Once you've seen the town, which should take about 5 minutes, head south on the main road to the National Park visitor center (unmanned).
The "visitor center"
*Camping reservations need to be made in advance with the Park Service

From the visitor center/ranger station, you can start hiking the island on Duck Harbor Trail or continue on the Robinson Point Lighthouse via lighthouse road. The lighthouse itself is closed the the public. The duck harbor trail will connect the hiker to the couple of trails that roam about the island. Duck Harbor is the single campsite on the island and is the perfect, quiet, wilderness campsite. Again, there are bathrooms and potable water, but nothing else. However, staying here has its advantages- a determined hiker can hike every trails in the course of a weekend. The NPS has a detailed and free hiking map.
Kayaking Isle au Haut, Robinson Point ahead!
Kayaking to Isle au Haut

How I ended up discovering Isle au Haut is kind of an interesting story. One of the greatest adventures I've ever been on was kayaking 100 miles of the famous Maine Island Trail through Penobscot Bay. On one particular day, I kayaked through dense fog and ended up in Stonington. From here, I resupplied, and headed south towards the island. It felt as if I was kayaking through the Caribbean. There were tall ships, fishing and lobster boats everywhere, and enough islands to provide a lifetime of new adventures. It was difficult to navigate through the thicker sections of fog, but it added to the adventure of getting down to the island. I finally arrived and discovered this distinct section of Acadia NP. The fact that a simple mail boat was Isle au Haut's only connection to the outside world gave the island an authentic rustic aura.

While I don't remember the exact distance from Stonington to Isle au Haut, I do remember it took me roughly half a day. As you can tell from the map, there are literally hundreds of islands off the coast of Maine and each is different. Some are house-sized, others have several cities. Kayaking to Isle au Haut is just one of many kayaking expeditions that one can embark upon in Maine.

Kayaking to Isle au Haut and other places on the coast of Maine requires impeccable ocean navigation skills and kayaking skill. Weather is unpredictable and distances between islands varies greatly.
A wild Maine adventure!
Stonington has kayaking rental locations. Using Duck Harbor as a "base-camp" you can create a great three day kayak trip to and around the island: First day, kayak to the island, second day, explore the surrounding islands or circumnavigate Isle au Haut and kayak back the last day! Be sure to purchase real ocean charts for this kind of a trip. Stay posted for more guides on kayaking in Maine and the famous Maine Island Trail!

Read. Plan. Get Out There!