There are nine preserves on Deer Isle, all open to the public, thanks in large part to the conservation work of Island Heritage Trust (IHT). Almost all include shore frontage, and several islands offer exploring possibilities to boaters, as well. Geocaches are found at each of the preserves and IHT provides a free “passport” for unique stamps found at each preserve’s letterbox.
The Tennis Preserve is the island’s largest at about 145 acres, with 3 1/2 miles of trails, including more than a mile along the rounded, granite ledges found in this part of Penobscot Bay. A cemetery and several old foundations are of historical interest, particularly the remnants of the Davis Farm, which include the remains of a stone wharf. Most of the preserve is forested in spruce, with oak and other hardwoods along the shore where eagles and ospreys are commonly seen. Seals bask on nearby ledges and are often spotted from the Shore Trail, along with the occasional mink. A small pink granite beach on the south shore is the perfect place for a swim or a picnic when the tide is low enough to expose this small wedge of sand. Tennis shores offer good views of wintering ducks, with hundreds or more rafting just offshore. Winter visits for show-shoeing, skiing and hiking are encouraged, but parking is very limited as the access road is not plowed in winter. Directions: Driving south on Route 15, take a left onto the Sunshine Rd. about a 1/2 mile south of Deer Isle village; follow the Sunshine Rd. for about 2-1/2 miles to the Tennis Rd. on your right. Follow the Tennis Rd. to the preserve.
Perched on a hill in Stonington, Settlement Quarry offers pleasant, easy walks on the Glacial Erratic and Grout Pile Trails, and is notable for its panoramic view of nearby Webb Cove and offshore islands, including Isle au Haut. A century ago the Quarry was a major industrial site, employing hundreds of men. Coal-fired boilers generated steam to power compressors, winches, derricks and the small railroad designed to moved granite and machinery around the site. Today, the former quarry offers many fascinating clues to the stone-cutting work that once took place, providing granite for New York City bridges, the Boston Museum of Arts and in the late 1960s, the John F Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Large cuts form a natural amphitheater, used several years ago for performances staged by Opera House Arts. Directions: Driving south on Route 15, turn left onto the Oceanville Rd. about 1 mile south of the Stonington town line: Settlement Quarry is on the right after about 1 mile, immediately after Settlement Rd.
Maps and information about all of Deer Isle’s preserves and islands, along with field guides, educational toys and games, can be found at the Nature Shop at Island Heritage Trust, 420 Sunset Rd. (Route 15A), Deer Isle, or islandheritagetrust.org. Contact IHT at
348-2455 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive email notifications about activities, events and volunteer opportunities on the preserves.