Mackworth Island State Park is a 100-acre island, connected to Falmouth through a causeway at the opening of Presumpscot River. In 1885, the island was purchased by the Baxter family, who donated it to the state of Maine in 1946, with the aim of it becoming a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. In fact, Mackworth Island is a natural haven, home to wildlife including raccoons, squirrels, fox, hares, grouse, and turkey.
Upon crossing the causeway, visitors will reach the island’s parking lot, close to the Baxter School for the Deaf, which was previously the Baxter’s Summer Home. The recommended way to get around the island is to follow the 1.5-mile island walk trail. A path formed by tiny rocks, wood chips, and packed soil leads around the island, passing mostly through woodlands. While the trail is relatively easy and accessible, with limited elevation not exceeding 10%, it can get quite slippery with rain and snow.
The trail offers incredible views of Casco Bay, Portland, and the Calendar Islands, which get their name from the myth that there are 365 islands in Casco Bay. Being an island, the park provides multiple access to the sea and various small beaches, however, access is mostly through staircases. Similarly, a granite pier, dating back to the civil war, with stairs on either side leads to a small rocky bay. In summer, the island is ideal for swimming as well as fishing for Bass and Mackerel. While in winter the landscape covered in snow, makes it perfect for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
The park which is open from 9am to sunset, charges a minimal fee at the gate before the causeway. The fee is totally worth it, as apart from its natural beauty, Mackworth Island State Park also offers other sweet attractions which make the visit even more interesting. Visitors can sit on the two-seater swing facing the sea, or visit the Baxter’s Dog Cemetery at the north of the island. Whilst in the woods, there is an open area with a sign inviting visitors to build tiny houses for fairies using supplies found in nature.
If you’re in Portland and you have 2-3 hours to spare, you should consider driving to Mackworth Island State Park. This very well kept island is not only a natural reserve for wildlife but is full of tiny details that shouldn’t go unnoticed.