DEER ISLE — During the summer and fall, most of the activities drawing visitors to Deer Isle, Stonington, and the nearby mainland towns of Brooklin, Sedgwick, and Brooksville will be focused on nature and the outdoors.
The dominant fact of life in this region is the sea, since Deer Isle itself is an island, and salt water penetrates deeply into the inland portions of the mainland communities.
Eggemoggin Reach, spanned by a single suspension bridge, separates Deer Isle and Stonington from their neighbors in Hancock County, and the Bagaduce River all but wraps its fast-flowing arms around Brooksville.
Sailing opportunities abound in the Reach, in East Penobscot Bay between Deer Isle and North Haven, among the islands of Deer Isle Thorofare, and in Jericho Bay between Deer Isle and Swans Island.
But as any decent map shows, the copious amount of islands around Deer Isle indicates a preponderance of ledges and hidden outcrops that can tear the keel out of a wooden-hulled vessel. With the changing tides and weather, climatic conditions change quickly in this region, so mariners must be aware of their surroundings and the weather.
The plethora of islands makes a day sail out of Stonington or Buck Harbor in South Brooksville a pleasurable event, with a midmorning landing on an uninhabited island followed by a seaside cookout of clams, mussels, lobsters, or other sea life. An experienced sailor can reach Camden, Belfast, or Islesboro and return the same day, and even Bar Harbor is not that far away.
Located on Cape Rosier in Brooksville is the Holbrook Island Sanctuary, a 1,230-acre sanctuary owned by the state. Left pretty much in its natural state, this sanctuary has seaside trails that overlook the entrance to Castine Harbor and the Bagaduce River.
In North Brooksville where a bridge carries Routes 175 and 176 over Snow Cove, the incoming tide flows upstream across the Bagaduce Falls. As the tide turns six hours later, the flow of water reverses itself and pours out to sea. These falls are popular with canoeists and kayakers.
Located on Deer Isle are two other nature preserves, the Crockett Cove Woods Preserve in Stonington and the Barred Island Preserve in Deer Isle.
The latter, a 2-acre island connected to Deer Isle by a sand bar at low tide, is inaccessible from land, but can be reached by sea. The former, which borders Crockett Cove, is a 100-acre preserve sheltering a stand of mature spruce fir. A nature trail takes hikers through the woods and along the shoreline.
Ames Pond, located off Route 15 in Stonington, is a small pond almost covered with pink waterlilies, when the plants are growing.