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Back Cove, Swan’s Island

Located on a quiet cove near the center of Swans Island, this 99-acre forested preserve is home to many wildlife species.

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Back Cove is good for:

Hiking – Explore the preserve’s path that winds one mile over a gently rolling forested landscape to the shores of Back Cove.

Birdwatching – Pack your binoculars to help spot songbirds singing in the forest canopy and shorebirds feeding from the preserve’s adjacent mudflats.

How to get there

Swan’s Island may be accessed either via ferry from Bass Harbor, which arrives at the ferry terminal on Mackerel Cove, or via private boat. If arriving by ferry, follow Ferry Road south for 0.5 mile. Turn right onto Atlantic Road. Drive 1.7 mile and then stay right on Harbor Road. In 0.5 mile, bear right onto North Road. Follow North Road 0.1 mile to the preserve’s trailhead on the right. Parking and picnic supplies are available across the road at The Island Market and Supply.

Get directions from Google Maps Printable Preserve Map

For a complete map with legend and guidelines, click on the Printable Preserve Map above.

Notes on topography, flora, and fauna

Topography of the preserve is largely defined by two high points on either side of a central valley.  From the shoreline, there are steep slopes up to the high points, with more gradual inclines defining the valley.

Natural communities mapped on the preserve include a matrix of Maritime Spruce-Fir Forest and smaller patches of other mixed evergreens.  There are also patches of early successional habitat that indicate relatively recent land clearing.

Wildlife observed on the preserve include dozens of bird species, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, raccoon, mink, river otter, and white-tailed deer.

How this place became open to the public

MCHT acquired 73 acres of the Back Cove Preserve, thanks to a generous landowner donation in 2012.  Neighboring landowners donated an additional 20 acres, expanding the preserve in 2016. MCHT purchased 6 acres in 2020 to improve public access.

Preserve information/guidelines

  • No Camping Permitted
  • No Fires Permitted
  • Stay on Established Trail
    • Foot Traffic Only – Trails Are Not Suitable for Wheeled Vehicles
  • Carry Out All Trash
    • Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
  • Keep Pets Under Control
  • Please Respect the Privacy of Preserve Neighbors