Like many island communities in Maine, Swans Island has experienced a steady loss in public shore access in recent years. New development and changes in ownership have closed off lands by which community members once reached the water. When an opportunity arose to secure a waterfront park site, town residents acted quickly to acquire the property for public use (knowing that it was zoned to allow four private residences). They enlisted help from Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Island Institute, and sought a grant from the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program. More than a third of the 330 people on Swans Island contributed to the project, helping to provide the match needed for LMF support.
Now island residents and visitors can enjoy 800 feet of shorefront access on Mill Pond Park, which lies along the southeastern shore of Burnt Coat Harbor. The park provides visitors with outstanding views of Harbor Island and the lighthouse at Hockamock Head, and glimpses of the tidal-powered lumber and grist mills that once operated there.
Picnic tables and a children’s playground dot the grassy site, buffered by woods on two sides and granite ledges that slope down toward the water. Small boaters can carry or trailer in their crafts, going out to explore the islands of Jericho Bay –including Marshall Island (a 981-acre island project that received LMF funds). There is ample parking for those who drive, and the park is only a 3-mile-walk or bike from the ferry terminal for those who leave cars on the mainland.
The State ferry service to Swans Island leaves from Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
Downeast Maine – Hancock & Washington
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 16, E-1. From the ferry terminal on Swans Island, take the main road heading west, and take the left fork where the road splits at the head of Burnt Coat Harbor. The park is in the village of Minturn toward the end of that road. The park is accessible from the water as well except within an hour either side of low tide.