The Maine Coast Heritage Trust has preserved many acres on Maine’s Frenchboro Island, saving it from second-home development

In the late 1990s, 940 acres on Frenchboro, or roughly two-thirds of the island, was listed for sale. Frenchboro is an island of the coast of Maine, accessible by ferry. Fearing this spectacular property would be purchased for subdivision and seasonal home development, concerned island residents forged a partnership with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Island Institute and the Maine Seacoast Mission to conserve the land. A massive fund-raising effort ensued, and in 2000 the parcel was acquired by MCHT.

In 2011, the entirety of Rich’s Head, 192 acres on the eastern edge of Frenchboro connected by a narrow seawall, was donated to MCHT by David Rockefeller, the noted philanthropist and Mount Desert Island summer denizen. Eleven acres around Little Beach have since been acquired, bringing MCHT’s land holdings on Frenchboro to its present 1,143 acres, and making the conservation project one of the largest the organization has taken on.

There’s not much to Frenchboro, also known as Long Island. A school and a church, and a deli on the opposite side of the harbor. Some 50 people reside year-round on Frenchboro, and most make their living by lobster fishing.

At the edge of the village, a white building houses the library and historical society. A foot trail departs from the left side of the library, and 100 yards into the woods there’s an information kiosk with a trail map. A half-mile beyond is Big Beach, the open ocean, and the start of one mighty fine hiking adventure.

The interior of Frenchboro is a thick forest of spruce and fir, while the coastline is rocky and rugged. A narrow trail threads a path along the margin of woods and water for eight incredible miles you won’t soon forget.

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