It’s a veritable hundred-acre wood… with no bears in sight. Mackworth Island was donated to the state by Gov. Percival Proctor Baxter in 1946 to be used “as a sanctuary for wild beasts and birds.” Now a public reserved land, the wooded, 100-acre, day-use-only island in Casco Bay also serves as a sanctuary for people in search of a little nature exploration. A causeway at the mouth of the Presumpscot River connects the island to Falmouth, which is just north of Portland. The island is also home to Governor Baxter School for the Deaf.
The 11/4-mile trail circling the island provides a leisurely hour walk suitable for all ages. The trail offers spectacular views of Portland and Casco Bay. Boats and ferries crisscross the bay as they wind their way among the small islands or out to sea. Scattered along the island path are benches and comfortable picnic spots. Small side trails descend the steep slope to the shore and pocket beaches. Hold tight to the kids’ hands as they clamber down, then let them run free to enjoy beach-combing.
Many visitors to Mackworth Island take the opportunity to do a little saltwater fishing. Warmer months see good conditions for bluefish, mackerel, and groundfish. The New Meadows, Harraseeket, Royal, and Presumpscot Rivers all flow into the 18-mile-wide Casco Bay – offering great saltwater fishing for striped bass from June through September.