Sheep Island, Owls Head
Located in Owls Head, this 76-acre island lures both daytime and overnight visitors to its picturesque cobble beaches and coastal scenery.
Sheep Island is good for:
- Paddling/Boating – Carefully navigate the cold waters of Owls Head Bay to reach several picnic sites; and consider adding stops at MCHT’s nearby Monroe Island and Ash Island
- Camping/Overnight Stay – After spending a night at the preserve’s small cabin (by reservation only) or nearby campsite in the island’s northeast corner, follow the short trail to the scenic promontory to watch the sunrise over Penobscot Bay.
- Beachcombing – Explore the island’s cobble beaches, coastal bluffs, and ledge-covered shoreline, but watch your step on the uneven, rocky surfaces and be aware of the incoming tide.
How to get there
The two best ways to access Sheep Island are from the all-tide, paved public boat launch on Mechanic Street in Rockland or from Richard Carver Harbor Park on Lighthouse Road in Owls Head (hand-carried boats only).
From Owls Head the distance is about a mile and from Rockland the trip is more than four miles. Boats can land on the cobble beach along the northern shore, although there is a submerged bar just to the north which makes access by larger boats precarious around low tide.
Campers should be prepared to carry their gear from the northern landing beach around 250 yards (depending on the tide) to the campsite, where there is a 10’ by 10’ tent platform.
A note on overnight parking: Campers wishing to leave their cars in the Richard Carver Harbor Park overnight need to pick up a free permit from the Owls Head Town Office. The phone number is 207-594-7434.
For a complete map with legend and guidelines, click on the Printable Preserve Map above.
Notes on topography, flora, and fauna
The island is roughly linear along a north-south axis, with a prominent narrow lobe extending to the east along the northern shore. A tidally submerged bar stretches from the southern end of the eastern shore out to Cutter’s Nubble, a high, rocky islet with a thin veneer of soil and vegetation. The main island’s shoreline includes a mix of exposed bedrock ledge, gravel and cobble beaches, eroding bluffs, and a very small patch of sand where the eastern part of the northern shoreline transitions from cobble to ledge. Although the shoreline does not have an official hiking trail, much of it is walkable (note: footing is rough in places and route more difficult during high tide).
Sheep Island’s interior is dominated by extensive wetlands and thick forests. Wetlands include alder shrub-scrub, spruce-fir-cinnamon fern forest, and graminoid marsh. The forested areas are mostly a mix of white and red spruce, balsam fir, red maple, and yellow and white birch. Near the campsite and small cabin, the landscape is more open, dominated by hay-scented ferns with only a few isolated canopy trees.
Visitors are likely to encounter many species of birds during spring and fall migration. During summer months, look for cormorants, loons, and seals feeding in the surrounding surf; view osprey and eagle scanning the waters from above; and listen for common songbirds such as black throated green warblers and white-throated sparrows singing from the canopy.
Is the small cabin open to the public?
There is a small cabin located on the island’s north side that is seasonally rented on a limited basis. For more information visit here.
How this place became open to the public
MCHT acquired Sheep Island in 2021, thanks to support from a generous conservation buyer and donations from many local supporters.
- Camp At Established Campsite (see map)
- Limit Stay to 2 Nights
- Groups Larger than 6 and/or Commercial Users by Permission Only. Please call 207-729-7366.
- Fires Only Permitted in Established 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 Control