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Bagaduce River Region, Castine

This scenic tidal river and its surrounding landscape, known for its diverse wildlife habitat, is home to many conserved lands, including nine MCHT Preserves.

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The Bagaduce River Region is good for:

Hiking – Lace up your hiking shoes and hit the family-friendly paths that wind through the Witherle Woods, Lampson, Tills Point, and Rene Henderson preserves.

Paddling – Launch your kayak and explore the waters and islands in and around the Bagaduce River, where bald eagles and osprey soar above and harbor seals forage below.

Camping – Spend a night and watch the sun set from the Battle, Lower Negro, or Ram Island preserves.

How to get there

Directions to the mainland preserves of Witherle Woods, Lampson, and Tills Point can be found on their respective pages (see links below).

For those interested in accessing the four island preserves, there are public boat launch sites available. The best option is the Castine Town Dock which is all tide and can accommodate launching vessels of considerable size. The town of Penobscot also has a tidal ramp for trailered boats. One of our regional partners, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, offers a hand carry launch in Penobscot.

Get directions from Google Maps Printable Preserve Map

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

Five mainland preserves to check out:

Witherle Woods: This 185-acre preserve in Castine features 4.2 miles of hiking trails and views of Penobscot Bay. The property has a rich history that includes major events in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Find more information here.

Battle Avenue Fields: Donated to MCHT in 2007, this small 4-acre preserve is located between the Witherle Woods Preserve and the Maine Maritime Academy campus in Castine. The property is an open field available to the public throughout the day for picnicking and enjoying the scenery.

Rene Henderson: This 110-acre preserve in Castine features mixed forest with pockets of wetlands, including a beaver pond and eight-acre marsh. The Rene Henderson Preserve is home to 2.5 miles of woods roads and trails suitable for walking, running, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. When winter conditions are cold enough, the beaver pond is also available for ice skating. A small parking lot is available just off Route 166.

Lampson: Located on the border of Castine and Penobsot, this 21-acre preserve invites visitors to explore its loop trail that winds less than a mile through open fields and dense forests to the shores of the Bagaduce River. A number of viewpoints offer prime wildlife viewing opportunities. Find more information here.

Tills Point: A 49-acre preserve on the shores of the Bagaduce River in the town of Penobscot, Tills Point includes a 0.5-mile trail that leads to splendid views of the surrounding shoreline and of Battle Island, another MCHT preserve. Find more information here.

Four Island Preserves to check out:

Battle Island: This 2-acre island preserve lies near the tip of Tills Point and is part of the Maine Island Trail. It has a campsite for overnight use and is the perfect spot to take a break while paddling the Bagaduce River. Find more information here.

Huckleberry (Green) Island: MCHT’s 9-acre Huckleberry Island preserve can be found in Brooksville, near Young’s Point. Fairly easily accessible by kayak, the island lacks amenities such as trails; however, the forest’s open canopy allows for daytime exploration. Watch your footing to avoid patches of poison ivy. Historically, the island was home to bald eagles.

Ram Island: This 7-acre preserve consists of two small islands attached by a bar at low tide. The eastern island is the most accessible and is best approached from the east. Also on the Maine Island Trail, near the Holbrook Island Sanctuary in the town of Brooksville, Ram Island has two campsites. One is on the eastern side, which is closed when eagles are present (please observe signage), and one is located on the southwestern point.

Lower Negro Island: Since October 2020, the island has been the subject of a federal name changing process, including MCHT and stakeholders at the local and state level to reevaluate the names of Lower Negro Island (MCHT) and Upper Negro Island (private).

This 4-acre island on the Maine Island Trail lies at the mouth of the Bagaduce River in the town of Castine. Ladders on its eastern side rise from the shore to the island’s plateau-like center. Here a loop trail runs along its circumference and connects a large opening at the island’s center and a smaller campsite at the southern tip.

Notes on topography, flora, and fauna

The Bagaduce, a mostly tidal and ecologically significant river, flows through the towns of Castine, Penboscot, and Brooksville. On its shores and in the lands surrounding it, visitors will find nine Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserves. This region is also home to state-owned conserved lands, most notably the 1,345-acre Holbrook Island Sanctuary in Brooksville, many conservation easements on private lands, and a handful of Blue Hill Heritage Trust preserves.

The Bagaduce River itself enjoys a diversity of wildlife, including bald eagles, harbor seals, waterfowl, osprey, horseshoe crabs, migratory shorebirds, scallops, striped bass, and alewives. Surrounding forests and fields add to the region’s beauty and ecological richness. MCHT has four mainland preserves that offer family-friendly hiking trails welcoming visitors throughout the year. The Trust also maintains four island preserves that are open to the public for day use activities such as picnicking. Three of these islands offer campsites for overnight use.

Preserve information/guidelines

  • Camp at Established Campsites (Battle Island, Lower Negro Island, and Ram Island only)
    • Limit Stay to 2 Nights
    • Commercial Users by Permission Only. Please call 207-729-7366.
  • Fires By Permit Only on Ram Island only- Maine State Law (island preserves only)
    • Contact Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777 for a Permit
    • Keep All Fires Below High Tide Line Unless Using Existing Fire Ring in the Campsite; Do Not Build Fire Rings
    • Do Not Cut or Break Tree Limbs, Dead or Alive
    • Leave No Fire Unattended
    • Completely Extinguish All Fires
  • Carry Out All Trash
    • Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
  • Keep Pets Under Strict Voice or Leash Control
  • Do Not Remove Archaeological Artifacts