Difficulty: Easy-moderate. While this trail is short, there are some steep sections, and portions of the trail can be muddy.
How to get there: To explore Lobster Cove Trail and the many other hiking trails on Monhegan Island, you’ll need to first take a boat ride. Boats traveling to Monhegan Island leave from Port Clyde, New Harbor and Boothbay Harbor, and the trip typically takes a bit more than an hour. To learn about the boats, visit monheganwelcome.com/get-here/.
There are no car ferries to the island, so you’ll need to walk from the wharf to the trails. A map will be helpful in finding trailheads. Trail maps are available at island shops and online at monheganassociates.org/the-trails/the-trail-map/7-07map/.
To reach Lobster Cove Trailhead from the wharf, walk up the gravel road that leads away from the wharf. You’ll climb a steep hill. (On Mapquest, this is appropriately named Wharf Hill Road, though the island doesn’t have any street signs.) The road (about 01. mile long) ends at the island’s main road, which is also gravel but a bit wider. (On Mapquest, this is named Monhegan Avenue.) Turn right and walk about 0.5 mile along the main road to the south end of the island. (On Mapquest, at about 0.3 mile, Monhegan Avenue becomes Lobster Cove Road.) Lobster Cove Trail begins at the end of the road. It’s marked with a small sign.
Information: Lobster Cove Trail is one of the many public hiking trails on Monhegan Island, a small, inhabited island about 10 miles from the coast of Maine. Known for its wild beauty, the island has long been a top destination for renowned artists, as well as birders and wildlife photographers.
The 700-acre island has a year-round population of approximately 70 residents and a summer population of about 250 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Monhegan is home to a quaint village, complete with a post office and small grocery, as well as two inns, several bed and breakfasts, picturesque homes and “cottages.” Yet approximately ⅔ of the island is conserved land, which can only be traversed via trail network that consists of about 12 miles of intersecting walking paths that vary in difficulty. These trails travel through mossy forests and meadows to dramatic cliffs along the island’s eastern side.
The Lobster Cove Trail is short — less than 0.5 mile — yet it leads to one of the great attractions of the island, the shipwreck of the D.T. Sheridan. Rusty remains of the ship lay scattered across the rocks along the shore, including a large section of the hull.
To learn more about the shipwreck, I dug into the Bangor Daily News archives, scrolling through reels of microfilm until I came across the article “Tug Total Loss After Grounding On Rocks Off Monhegan Island,” published in the Bangor Daily News on Nov. 8, 1948:
ROCKLAND, Nov. 7 — The 110-foot tug D.T. Sheridan, owned by the Sheridan Transportation company of Philadelphia, Pa., was declared a total loss by Coast Guard authorities today after she went aground on Lobster Point on the southeast side of Monhegan Island early Saturday morning.
The Coast Guard cutter Snohomish rushed to the to the scene and transferred nine men and the captain from the tug to one of the two barges that it was towing at the time of the mishap. The Snowhomish later towed both barges back to Rockland harbor.
The barges were the Rockhavenbound from New York to Rockland with soft coal, and the Blanche Sheridan, en route from Norfolk, Va., to Bangor, also with soft coal. They were saved when the captain of the tug, Thomas Hayman of Norfolk, Va., signaled them to cut the towlines as the tug went aground.
The crew of the tug left Rockland today for Boston and New York. The disaster is now under investigation by Marine Inspector E.G. Hamilton of Portland. The Diesel-engined tug was valued at $100,00. None of the crew was injured when the craft went on the rocks in the dense fog Saturday morning.
A photo of four of the shipwreck survivors accompanied the article, and the caption read: TUG SURVIVORS — Part of the crew of the tug, D.T. Sheridan, which struck Lobster Point on Monhegan Island at 11:15 p.m. Friday (Nov. 5) and sunk. The crew was able to get off in small boats and seek safety aboard the barge, Blanche Sheridan, as the 110-foot steel tug sank with holes battered in her hull…
Only one thing caught me off guard in that story — the guy whose name is Snowhomish. Or at least, that’s how I read it at first. Snowhomish. No last name. I thought, “Well, he’s the hero of the story, so I guess, like Hercules and Batman, it’s kind of fitting that he only has one name.” But then a blog reader pointed out to me that I was reading it wrong! Snowhomish isn’t the person’s name, it’s the name of his boat, which was named after a Native American tribe. In the photo caption, the actual rescuer’s name is revealed: seaman Raymond Pix.
Moving on — today, the scene of the wreck is certainly a somber one, in part due to the wooden cross that has been erected near the wreck. A ring buoy and coils of rope hang from the cross. When I first visited, I assumed it was in honor of the victims of the shipwreck, but now that I know the story, I know it can’t be true, since all survived. Nevertheless, the cross makes for a more picturesque scene and perhaps serves another purpose.
The island’s land trust, Monhegan Associates, warns visitors not to try to swim or wade at Lobster Cove or any area on the east side of the island because “undertows there are unpredictable and dangerous, and high surf can sweep you away if you’re too close to the sea.” In fact, the group stresses on its website that “no one has been saved who has gone overboard from Green Point to Lobster Cove.”
Lobster Cove Trail itself is relatively easy to traverse because it’s so short, but it is rather bumpy, and there are some steep sections along the way. In the spring, mud is also a factor. The far end of the trail, which opens up into a meadow along the shore, is excellent for bird watching, particularly shore birds, according to the Monhegan Associates.
In the 1950s, Ted Edison, a summer resident on Monhegan and son of the famous inventor Thomas Edison, purchased 300 acres of the undeveloped areas of the island and formed an organization, Monhegan Associates, which is primarily a land trust, to protect the lands in perpetuity. In the past 50 years, the group has acquired more land through gifts and purchases and now owns approximately 480 acres.
- Camping is forbidden by town ordinance and state regulation, both of which are enforced.
- Dogs are allowed on trails but must be leashed and controlled at all times. You will be charged a boat fare for your dog and are expected to dispose of its waste while on the island.
- On island roads, trucks have right-of-way. Step out of the road to let them pass.
- Monhegan is a village. Trespassing on private property is not acceptable. (They’ve had a problem with people picnicking on people’s private lawns!)
- Bicycles are not permitted on the trails of the island, and strollers, wheelchairs and walkers are extremely difficult to maneuver on the trails beyond the main fire roads. Therefore, wheels of any kind are not permitted on the trails.
- The Monhegan Associates highly suggest carrying a map with you on the trails.
- Do not expect rest stops, trash barrels, outhouses or vending machines along any of the trails.
- Trails are marked with infrequent guide posts, small numbers on trees and sometimes rocks at trailheads and intersections, as well as cairns (stone piles) over rock ledges.
- Use great care around cliffs and surf.
- Stay on the trails and “leave no trace,” meaning take out what you bring in, nothing more, nothing less.
- Wear sensible shoes and clothing to protect against ticks and poison ivy.
- Smoking is not permitted on trails. To report a fire, injury or serious medical emergency, go to the nearest phone and call 911. Cell phone reception is limited on the east side (also known as backside) of the island, so consider walking with a buddy.
Access to the trail network is free, but you can give back by volunteering on the trails during your visit to the island, according to the Monhegan Associate website. You can join a volunteer crew, which meets at the trails maintenance building behind the meadow at the end of the road from the library on Friday mornings (9 a.m.-noon, weather permitting), or you can adopt a trail or a portion of one and work at your own schedule. Tools and gloves are provided. For information, call Fred Grey at 596-6729.
If you’re into the wildlife of the island, consider purchasing the recently published “The Monhegan Nature Guide” at monheganassociates.org/the-monhegan-nature-guide/. The full-color nature guide, written by Lillian Harris, is $20 and is also on sale on the island at various locations.
Personal note: I went on this short hike during a trip to Monhegan Island to write about a proposed wind turbine project in May 2014, just before the start of tourist season. BDN photographer Linda O’Kresik and I stayed at Shining Sails, where we were saved from wandering and starvation by the bed and breakfast’s owners, year-round residents Winnie and John Murdock. It was they who told us to hike to Lobster Cove to photograph one of the many views that would be disrupted by the proposed turbines. But that’s another story entirely.
On Monhegan, Linda learned how crazy I’ve become about photographing wildlife, especially birds. During our trip, I captured images of eiders, red-winged black birds, orioles, harbor seals, loons, guillemots, Canada geese and other local wildlife as we rushed back and forth across the island to interview people and capture aspects of the town.
Because we were so busy with the story, I didn’t have much time to explore the many trails, though I dearly wished I could have. In addition to hiking the Lobster Cove Trail, Linda and I hiked past Monhegan Light and down the White Head Trail to White Head, the highest sea cliff on the island. I plan to return to the island to spend more time on the trails, considering I didn’t even have time to visit the island’s famous Cathedral Woods Trail and see the many fairy houses built by visitors over the years.