My absolute favorite day trip while visiting New Harbor, Maine was to Monegan Island. For more than 100 years, Monhegan has been a summer haven for artists and other visitors who appreciate its isolation, the beauty of its wilderness areas, relaxed atmosphere, and unhurried pace. Mohegan is authentic, beautiful, and rustic. Just 10 miles offshore, Monhegan is a mountainous island where about 70 residents live within a square mile of spectacularly scenic terrain with no cars! The only way to the island is via ferry, and we were lucky that one of the three points of origin was New Harbor. Hardy Boat Cruises offers the Monhegan Island Ferry Service as well as other trips such as Puffin and Seal watching cruises.
You can go for just the day as we did, or stay at one of the island’s cottages or Bed and Breakfasts. If you’re a planner, check out the Monhegan Island Association Trail Map to guide you on a great walk around the island. If not, grab a copy of the ferry or in the small store when you arrive on the island. There are about 12 miles of trails over rocky cliffs and through the Cathedral Woods.
I took a picnic lunch and spent the day exploring. My first stop was Lobster Cove via a mostly flat, narrow path through the meadow to the southern tip of the Island and the wreck of the D.T. Sheridan, an old tugboat.
Next I followed the coast on Cliff Trail #1 past Burnt Head to White Head, shown in the distance above. This was much rougher hiking and I was definitely hungry once I arrived. , I enjoyed my picnic lunch overlooking the gorgeous views.
Finally, I turned inwards and hiked through the Cathedral Woods looking closely for the fairy houses. I love these little treasures that people make out of natural materials such as cut tree limbs, moss, and rocks. However, they are actually pretty controversial. During a visit to Maine, author/illustrator Tracy Kane was inspired by the fairies of Monhegan Island to write a popular series of books on how to build Fairy house. Portsmouth, NH, Kane’s hometown now hosts an annual Fairy House Tour. Unfortunately, the popularity of Kane’s fairy house books has increased the visitors coming to build fairy houses themselves. Consequently, to discourage construction of fairy house, locals have posted signs with the message. “These wildlands are all privately owned. Please help keep them pristine.” Some members of the anti-fairy movement are known as “Stompers,” because of their tendency to destroy fairy houses they discover. They believe that the fairy houses do not follow the “leave-no-trace” outdoor ethic and may degrade the forest ecosystem especially when people add things like bottle caps and plastic toys to enhance them. I personally like the ones that are all natural, and so small that you have to look closely to find them.
On the ferry ride back to New Harbor, our captain pointed out several seals sunning on rocks. It was the perfect end to a blissful trip.