Visitor Activities

Hiking Trail

Wildlife comes first on national wildlife refuges. All human activities must be compatible with the needs of wildlife. Six priority public uses are encouraged when they do not interfere with the individual refuge's mission. These are: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.

 

Trails

The refuge offers excellent opportunities for bird watching, hiking and photography. Foot trails wind through a variety of habitats, from spruce-fir woodlands to grasslands to freshwater and saltwater marshes to mudflats. On Petit Manan Point Division, the Hollingsworth Trail is a 1.8-mile loop with views of heaths and cobble beaches. Interpretive signs offer insight into refuge wildlife, habitats, and management. The Birch Point Trail (four miles round trip) begins in a blueberry field and leads to the salt marshes of Dyer Bay, passing through a mixed-wood forest. The Gouldsboro Bay Division offers a 1.6 mile (round trip) Salt Marsh Trail hike through rolling conifer forest with two views of a saltmarsh and Corea Heath Division offers a 0.4 mile universally accessible trail to an observation platform overlooking the heath. Commercial groups and researchers should contact the refuge to determine if a Special Use Permit is required. 

Maine Coastal Islands - Hiking Trails (pdf)

Seabird islands are closed to the public during the nesting season, April 1 - August 31, to minimize disturbance to the birds. Commercial tour boats provide views of nesting seabirds on Petit Manan, Seal and Machias Seal islands. Islands are open for daylight use only from September 1 through March 31 but have no dock or moorings; sea conditions make landing hazardous.

* Two islands are open for primitive camping, maintained by the Maine Island Trail Association. Reservations are required through our Milbridge office 207-546-2124 ext. 0.

* Two islands (Seal and Duck) are closed to the public year round due to the presence of unexploded ordnance. 

 

Hunting

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting plan for Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Maine. 

A draft plan was issued earlier this spring, and during the 93-day public comment period, 0 comment letters were received from the public.  In received no comments on our draft plan, no significant changes were made from draft to final. 

Some people in the past have reflected an opposition to hunting in general and in particular on NWR lands. We understand and respect this viewpoint.  The legislation which guides how national wildlife refuges across the country are managed not only requires us to consider allowing wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, but further directs us to promote these activities when compatible with refuge purposes. Not one of these recreational uses have a priority over another – they are simply different ways people choose to enjoy the refuges and to engage themselves, their families, and their friends in the outdoors.

We may begin to implement the Hunting and Plan for Maine Coastal Islands NWR upon publication of the final 2021-2022 Station-Specific Hunting Regulations in the Federal Register. The final plan can be viewed here: 

 MaineCoastalIslands_ME_HuntPlan_CD_EA_S7_FONSI_final2021

 Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Hunting Regulations (pdf)