Frenchboro Preserve, Frenchboro
Frenchboro offers challenging hiking trails that begin near Lunt Harbor’s working waterfront and lead to dramatic rocky bluffs, remote beaches, and stunning views of Mount Desert Island.
Frenchboro is great for:
- Hiking – Fill your backpack with plenty of water and food before heading out for a half-day or full day adventure along Frenchboro’s 13.5 miles of hiking trails – some of the most remote routes on the Maine Coast! Scroll down for more trail info.
- Wildlife Observation – Migratory songbirds, nesting eagles, and resident mink can be observed in the preserve, while marine mammals and sea ducks are commonly observed along the 50-minute ferry ride.
- Photography – The island’s rugged shoreline and distant views of Acadia National Park’s highest summits provide endless photographic opportunities.
- An Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience – Escape the summer traffic and busy Acadia National Park destinations by spending a quiet day in the cool breezes of Frenchboro Long Island. In addition to hiking trails, check out the island’s small museum to learn more about this working community.
How to get there
MCHT’s Frenchboro Preserve, which is located on Frenchboro Long Island, can be accessed by private boat. There are moorings available for rent in the harbor.
The island is also accessible with same day, roundtrip ferry service two Wednesdays each month or via a passenger-only ferry service that operates each Friday from early spring to late fall.
Both ferries depart the mainland from Bass Harbor. The Wednesday ferry departs Bass Harbor at 9:00 am and leaves Frenchboro at 3:00 pm. If you choose the Friday ferry service, be prepared for a longer day. This ferry departs Bass Harbor at 8:00 am and leaves Frenchboro at 6:00 pm (5:00 pm in November).
There are very few services on the island. You should be prepared with the food and water you will need for the day.
Be sure to arrive in plenty of time before the ferry departs Bass Harbor to secure a parking space (could be limited at the terminal during the summer). And don’t miss the ferry back in the afternoon; there are no last-minute accommodations available on the island.
Be sure to double check that the ferry is running at maine.gov!
For a complete map with legend and guidelines, click on the Printable Preserve Map above.
Looking for an itinerary?
Wednesday Half-Day Hike. Leaving Bass Harbor at 9:00 am, the 50-minute ferry ride will arrive on Frenchboro Long Island just before 10 am.
Follow the paved road right as it leads into the town along the eastern side of Lunt Harbor. Near the southern tip of the harbor turn left and ascend the hill to reach the building housing the island’s museum and library. Locate the small kiosk behind the building and the entrance to the MCHT preserve.
From here you can complete a loop hike along the island’s southern shore before swinging back inland and heading back to town. Follow the trail south to Big Beach and then continue east to Deep Cove, Bluff Head, and West Cove. From West Cove, take the main trail west across the center of the island. It swings right and heads through a sand pit area before reaching a town road.
Bluff Head is the most dramatic viewpoint along this route, but there are many other scenic vistas. Be sure to check your watch and allow for at least an hour to get from West Cove to the ferry terminal to make the 3:00 pm ferry departure. If necessary, there are ways to shorten the hike by following routes inland from Deep Cove or Bluff Head.
Friday Full-Day Hike. Take the 8:00 am passenger-only ferry out of Bass Harbor. The 50-minute ride arrives at the town dock in the center of Lunt Harbor.
Head up to the main road and turn right. Near the southern tip of the harbor turn left and ascend the hill to reach the building housing the island’s museum and library. Locate the small kiosk behind the building and the entrance to the MCHT preserve.
Follow the itinerary described under “Wednesday Half-Day Hike” to reach West Cove around the middle of the day. The isthmus that connects the main island to Rich’s Head is a wonderful picnic spot with incredible views of Mount Desert Island.
From here there are two options: complete the loop around Rich’s Head, the island’s most remote corner, or follow the shore trail north to Yellow Head, Eastern Beach, and Northwest Point.
If time permits, explore both trails before returning to the town dock to meet the 6:00 pm ferry departure.
Check the map for more direct options back to the town, should time become an issue. With no last-minute overnight accommodations available, you don’t want to miss the evening ferry.
Tips from the MCHT Land Steward
“Leave room for an ice cream cone from Lunt’s Dockside Deli after your hike!”
Notes on topography, flora, and fauna
Located on Frenchboro Long Island, this 1,159-acre preserve includes 8.2 miles of shoreline, hundreds of acres of spruce forests, and dozens of forested and open wetlands, headlands, and beaches. While the interior provides intact habitat for forest and wetland wildlife, the preserve’s rocky shoreline is home to rare plants such as mare’s tail and beachhead iris. Beaver and deer were introduced in the 1900s and they have left a mark with ponds and little hardwood understory. Frenchboro Long Island is also home to nesting bald eagles and is a popular stopping point for migratory birds.
Please respect our neighbors
Please use care in planning your route as the trails are rustic and largely unmarked. Many of the paths on the island extend from MCHT land onto private property. Neighboring landowners have generously continued the island tradition of allowing the public to cross their properties. Please respect their privacy by staying far away from any structures and leaving no trace of your visit.
Frenchboro Long Island is home to approximately 65 year-round residents who make their living primarily from the sea through lobster fishing. The village is clustered around Lunt Harbor, and includes a schoolhouse, post office, church, museum/library, firehouse, and a dockside deli, in addition to the residences and working wharves.
How this place became open to the public
In 1999, most of the land that now comprises MCHT’s Frenchboro Long Island preserve went on the market for $3 million. Members of the Frenchboro Long Island community approached Maine Coast Heritage Trust asking for help conserving the land and the way of life enjoyed by the people who live there.
Realizing the need to integrate land protection and community development, the town invited MCHT, the Island Institute, and Maine Sea Coast Mission to help devise a solution. Through a collective effort, a plan emerged to protect the property in question from large-scale subdivision and development; keep its wild shores open to town residents and visitors; allow for future village growth; and compensate the town for lost property tax revenues.
With support from The Island Institute and Maine Coast Sea Mission, Maine Coast Heritage Trust raised $3 million in less than a year to permanently conserve most of what is now Frenchboro Island Preserve. Through a generous donation, MCHT added a second parcel including Rich’s head in 2011.
Preserve information & guidelines
- No Camping Permitted
- No Fires Permitted
- Stay on Established Trails
- Carry Out All Trash
- Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
- Keep Pets Under Control
- Please Respect the Privacy of Preserve Neighbors