Sears Island is one of the largest undeveloped islands on the Eastern Seaboard that is connected to the mainland by a causeway.
Rich in wild beauty, Sears Island serves as an easily accessible spot for a short, peaceful stroll or a more ambitious outing. The island offers miles of shoreline to explore, including opportunities for wildlife watching, discovering abundant botanical and geological features, and spotting historic sites.
The recreation possibilities on Sears Island change with the seasons, allowing for a wide variety of activities from bird watching, trail running, kayaking, swimming and biking in Maine’s milder seasons to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during our snowy months. Guided nature walks, always free and open to all, are offered each summer.
Explore Sears Island’s trails at your own risk and please follow these guidelines to keep the land safe and enjoyable for all.
• Fires are not permitted anywhere on Sears Island.
• Control your pets. Pick up animal waste and dispose of it in the trash container near the entrance.
• Ride horses only on paved and unpaved roads. Remove waste from roads.
• Leave no trace from your visit, including carrying out any trash.
• Use only non-motorized vehicles.
• Camping and overnight parking are not allowed.
• Use metal detectors only on the beach.
Note: Hunting is permitted on Sears Island October 1-December 31. Please be mindful of this and wear blaze orange on the trails.
Below is further information on ways to explore the island.
There are several miles of managed trails on Sears Island, and visitors are welcome to go off the trails and through the forest as well. The island is about two miles north to south and about one mile east to west. To walk completely around the island on the shore is about five miles. Always be aware of the tides if you plan to walk along the shore, and check for ticks if you’ve been through the forests.
Indigenous people first camped on the island more than 3,400 years ago, so in a sense, the entire island is a historic site. Visitors today can find the granite stone foundation of a farmhouse adjacent to the Homestead Trail, as well as the foundation from the Sears summer homestead remains and an outbuilding, both at the south end of the island. The stone walls that line the Cell Tower Road and elsewhere are a legacy from the 17th and 18th centuries, when forests were cleared for farming.
Please note: Metal detectors may be used only on the beach and not around the foundations.
To date, birders have spotted 222 species of birds on Sears Island, representing 47% of all bird species recorded in Maine. In Derek Lovitch’s 2017 book Birdwatching in Maine, he states that “Sears Island…is by far the shining gem of Maine coastal birding” in the area of coastline between Rockland and Mount Desert Island..”
View a gallery of bird images by Karl Gerstenberger that were all photographed on Sears Island.
The island is characterized by a maritime spruce-fir forest, and mature hardwood forests, which afford habitat to specific kinds of birds, mammals, invertebrates, and understory plants. Although it is not an Old Growth forest, having been farmed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there are some large old trees that have reforested the land, large white pine, spruce, red oak, and yellow birch in particular. Sheltered within these forests are several vernal pools, the nurseries for 6 of Maine’s 8 frog species, 2 salamander species, and many important invertebrate species.
The marine landscape surrounding Sears Island–especially on the western side–includes eelgrass beds. Eelgrass is a keystone species, meaning that it is critical to a variety of other species, providing a nursery for fish, lobsters, urchins, clams, mussels, marine snails, and other mollusks. Note: Clams may be harvested on the island by those who obtain recreational licenses at Searsport’s Town Hall. For more information or to obtain a license, visit the Searsport Town Office, 1 Union St., or call (207) 548-6372, during regular business hours.
The last glaciers in this region retreated 12,000 years ago, leaving glacial erratics among the contours of the land. The eastern shore of Sears Island boasts stone ledges and other outcroppings that are both fascinating and beautiful.
“My family has frequented Sears Island all summer. It is a great place to kayak, and to also explore the shoreline and old Homestead area.”