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Buckle Island Harbor, Swan’s Island

This 84-acre preserve features picnic spots and intimate views of a secluded harbor on the western shore of Swans Island.


Buckle Island Harbor is good for:

Walking – Explore the two dirt roads that wind through the preserve, the southernmost branch gradually ascends 0.3 mile from the rocky shoreline where the northernmost branch swings left and continues roughly 0.5 mile to the preserve boundary.

Birdwatching – Pack your binoculars and explore the preserve’s forest habitats in search of songbirds and scan the harbor for waterfowl and wading birds.

Paddling – Launch your kayak into the harbor’s cold waters and check out the adjacent shoreline and nearby islands.

How to get there

Swan’s Island is accessible either via ferry from Bass Harbor, which arrives at the ferry terminal on Mackerel Cove, or via private boat. Boat access directly to the preserve from the water must be at a higher tide. 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 1.2 mile before bearing left at a junction with Garden Cove Road – entering the preserve. Continue 0.1 mile and stay left at the junction. Follow the gravel Killam Road 0.3 mile to reach parking spaces near the shoreline.

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

The Buckle Island Harbor Preserve rises gradually from the shoreline up to the eastern boundary with Garden Cove Road. The southwestern extent of the preserve features the most relief on the property, with exposed bedrock forming a low-elevation bald. A small, forested wetland lies just downslope from the bald. It is drained by a stream running north to the inlet in the shoreline. Another, stream channel runs northwest to nearly the same point in the shoreline, which is varied, with saltmarsh present near the northern and southern ends, and ledge-dominated areas in the center.

Despite its small size, the preserve is home to nine natural communities, including, maritime spruce-fir, aspen-birch, red spruce-mixed conifer, spruce-fir-cinnamon fern alder shrub thicket, early successional, low-elevation bald, mixed graminoid-forb saltmarsh, and seaside goldenrod-goosetongue open headland.  Due to relatively recent disturbance, much of the current vegetation is mid-successional relics of past clearing. Many of these communities will likely revert to maritime spruce-fir forest.

The State of Maine has identified important tidal wading bird and waterfowl habitat, eelgrass beds, softshell clam habitat, and blue mussel habitat all along the shoreline and mudflats of Buckle Island Harbor.  A bald eagle pair has also nested on nearby Hen Island.

How this place became open to the public

The preserve was generously donated to MCHT in 2012.

Preserve information/guidelines

  • No Camping Permitted
  • No Fires Permitted
  • Carry Out All Trash
    • Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
  • Keep Pets Under Control
  • Please Respect the Privacy of Preserve Neighbors