Documenting Acadia’s Farthest Reaching Campground
At the southern tip of Isle au Haut—far beyond where electricity and running water end—is a small outpost of Acadia National Park with one of the National Park Service’s most diminutive campgrounds: Duck Harbor.
On an early August morning, I waited in downtown Stonington for the mailboat to Isle au Haut with an 85-liter hiking bag and a cooler full of beer. An island six miles out to sea, Isle au Haut has a longtime reputation as a quiet summer retreat for New England’s wealthy families. That’s just one part of Isle au Haut’s story, though; I was here for a very different reason. At the southern tip of the island—far beyond where electricity and running water end—is a small outpost of Acadia National Park with one of the National Park Service’s most diminutive campgrounds: Duck Harbor. Gifted to the Park Service in the 1940s by one of Isle au Haut’s most successful lobstering families, the protected federal land encompasses about half of the island and is managed for hiking and exploring. Duck Harbor Campground has five lean-tos, a few outhouses, a woodshed, a ranger station four miles away by foot, and a stately wharf for the mailboat to drop off day hikers and campers alike. I made my way through a field densely packed with raspberries, ferns, and the last whisper of burnt-out sweet peas to my lean-to, which was nestled into a low hill surrounded by conifers and salty wind. I set up camp and hit the trails: off to explore and capture Acadia’s most far-flung outpost.
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