Ed Woodsum Preserve encompasses all of 985-acre Marshall Island, one of the largest undeveloped islands on America’s eastern seaboard and home to remote campsites, rugged trails, natural beauty, and picturesque sand beaches.
Marshall Island is great for:
- Boating/Kayaking. Set sail, grab your paddle, or power your boat to the distant shoreline of Marshall Island. Scroll down to learn more.
- Hiking. Pack plenty of food and water before heading out on the island’s nearly 10-mile network of paths, some of the most remote and scenic coastal trails in the state. Scroll down to learn more.
- Camping. Enjoy island serenity for up to two nights, at one of four campsites available on the island. Scroll down to learn more.
- Beachcombing. Spend a relaxing day at aptly-named Sand Cove, as bald eagles survey above and waves crash gently below.
How to get there
The Ed Woodsum Preserve on Marshall Island is located south of Swans Island in Hancock County. The dock on the northeast side near Ringtown Island is currently closed due to structural issues, but the cove makes for good holding ground and you'll find an easy landing beach on the south end. (From here, you can't miss the trails!) Visitors are also encouraged to anchor off Sand Cove or just west of Long Point. If you have little experience kayaking or boating, consider hiring a local guide to secure transportation to the island. Old Quarry Ocean Adventures out of Stonington is one option. In addition to a handful of organized tours each summer, Old Quarry can provide transportation to and from the island or help plan a kayak adventure.
Choose your route
The Ed Woodsum Preserve features three interconnected loop trails available to hikers and other options to shorten a day’s trek (see the map for more details).
East Loop Trail. This extraorindary 3.9-mile hike begins and ends at the dock located on Marshall’s northeast shore. Once on land, turn left and follow the route as it parallels the coastline 1.7 miles to Sand Cove, offering pleasant views throughout. Just beyond the halfway point, a short spur departs left to Devil’s Head and Popplestone Cove. From Sand Beach, the East Loop heads inland (coinciding with the West Shore Trail) and continues 1.1 miles to an old airstrip. At the intersection of overgrown landing areas, turn sharply left. Continue to the western end of this airstrip and then turn right. Descend the trail a quarter mile to a beach near Long Point and views of Blue Hill Bay. Stay right on the East Loop Trail as it leads through an old homestead before returning to the dock.
West Shore Trail. Beginning at Sand Beach, follow the route to Long Point that is described in the East Loop Trail description above. At the beach near Long Point, turn left and follow this lightly-used trail roughly two miles as it showcases views of Jericho Bay, Isle Au Haute, and Merchant Row. As the path begins to swing east, pass a short spur right. The main trail continues around the north shore of Boxam Cove before intersecting the South Loop Trail. Stay left and hike 0.1 mile to return to Sand Cove, completing the 4.5-mile circuit.
South Loop Trail. The shortest of Marshall Island’s three loop trails (and the most popular), this 1.6-mile hike begins at Sand Cove as it coincides with the West Shore Trail. Just south of Sand Cove, turn left onto the path as it hugs the southeast shore of the island. Swinging west, the trail approaches Boxam Cove and soon arrives at its secluded beach. Complete your journey by heading north. Stay right at the intersection with the West Shore Trail and continue 0.1 mile to reach Sand Cove.
The Ed Woodsum Preserve on Marshall Island features four campsites. Each site has a two-night limit. Please camp only at established sites.
Group Campsite (by reservation). This site on the northern end of the island is best suited for commercially guided groups and/or groups of six or more. To reserve, please contact Peg Adams at email@example.com.
Long Point Campsite. Land your kayak or outboard on the fine cobble beach on the north end of the island and set up camp in the spruce forest. This campsite is first come, first served.
Sand Cove Campsite. You’ll find three, 12’ x 12’ tent platforms in the woods just north of Mashall’s popular Sand Cove. Camping is not permitted on the beach. This campsite is first come, first served.
*Please note that there are two long-term lease sites on the island. See map for details.
Tips from an MCHT Land Steward
Caution should be taken while hiking the island’s rugged shoreline. No services are available and cell phone coverage is spotty. There are few places along Maine's coast as isolated, wild, and beautiful as Marshall Island.
Notes on topography, flora, and fauna
Marshall is forested predominately with spruce species and an occasional hardwood. Throughout the island there is a network of interconnected wetlands. Nearly the entire shoreline consists of bold granite ledge and cobble beaches. Numerous species of birds are drawn to the island each year. In addition to migratory visitors, there has been an active bald eagle nest near Boxam Cove and the island is home to many resident songbirds, and utilized by large flocks of migrating songbirds..
How Marshall Island became open to the public
The Ed Woodsum Preserve was acquired by MCHT in 2003, thanks to the generosity of private donors and the state's Land for Maine's Future Program.
This place belongs to all of us. Please remember to take care when you visit public preserves!
Preserve information & guidelines
- Camping at Established Campsites Only
- Limit stay to 2 nights
- Fires by Permit Only - Maine State Law
- Contact Maine Forest Service at 207-827-1800 for Permit
- Keep All fires Below High Tide Line
- Do Not Cut or Break Tree limbs, Dead or Alive
- Leave No Fire Unattended
- Completely Extinguish All Fires
- 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