Maine Island Trail and Hammocks

Anybody who has done some extensive paddling on the Maine Island Trail tell me how Hammock compatible are the islands? Are the majority of them OK for hammocks?

I spent some time in and around the Penobscot Bay on some of the islands and to me, they look more hammockable than tentable. Especially Butter Island, the MITA private site. Was worried that some of the islands could simply be rock but it seems that all the islands that we stopped by looked hammockable. I have a Hennessy ultralite backpacker that I was considering bringing but wound up bringing my MSR 1 person zoid cause I was wondering about tree status.


MITA and hammocks
It definately depends on the island. Up around Stonington and Isle au Haut there are plenty of bigger islands well set for using the trees for shelter (hammock or tarp), but there are many small ones with either one or no tree big enough to support ones weight. It’s a small hammock though, so I’d bring it anyway.


MITA’s Preference
The MITA book asks campers to use self-supported tents rather than tie off to trees on the islands.

leave no trace…
so that ethic says bivy on hard, durable surfaces…with all that granite on the island - sounds like that would be the ultimate lnt bivy spot, eh? so if you REALLY want to leave no trace, you’ll be sleeping on a rock…

that being said, all the site i’ve used on the trail are actually on soil of some kind and are a lot more comfy than cold maine granite!

as far as hammocks - utilizing the existing sites on the island (don’t go tearing off through the island and getting off established sites/trails to find some sturdy tree’s) use common sense - don’t be tearing up the bark of the tree and only use tree’s that are large enough to support you and the hammock. once you’ve got that - hammock sling away.

so say the mita folks i spoke with today - had to re-up my membership.

happy camping - fall is pretty impressive up in maine…ayuh.

Depends on the site then
There are at least a couple of sites we’ve camped on where it’d be tough to stay within the site and find a couple of really solid trees that were well spaced for a hammock. Some of the sites are actual platforms, like Strawberry, where there just isn’t a good tree-hammock option over the platform at all. Some others require a serious sense of humor to call campable, like Little Marsh, but if you actually make a landing you’ll find extremely limited options up there for slinging a hammock.

What is the itinerary? It might be best to name some of the targeted islands.

As to the ground - the rejected needle pile that covers the ground in many of the sites seems to be a nice compromise. It softens the surface nicely while seeming to really avoid taking up the impact of camping compared to how things like grassy surfaces would react.

Iternery has passed!

We camped on Little Hen on the east coast of Vinalhaven and then on Butter, but we stopped on East Barred and also Ram island so we checked that out too. We tented as we were both wondering about the hammock. The Hennessey’s both utilize “tree huggers” which are nylon straps that do not cut into the tree. I am very environmentally conscious as I am a very serious backpacker and mountaineer and have picked up kayak touring recently so I already have all the small compact gear.

The hammock thing came when we were at Butter island. Due to some mixup, both Nubble and Old Orchard were occupied. the MITA caretaker there was very nice and said that we could camp anywhere we could find a flat spot, even if it was on the trail (to the highpoint with view) or even beyond what was private property. However, it was nigh impossible to find a flat spot but there were plenty of trees we felt hammock-able and it was more ideal for that.

Little Hen was marginal too cause of the poisin ivy and it’s somewhat overgrown as well as buggy as hell.


Glad you had a good time
I wouldn’t have been much help anyway - know the spots in Muscongous Bay much better than where you were. Sounds like you ahd a great trip!

further west
I hammocked on Hungry, Fort, Castle islands and was happy as a clam. Happier actually, because clams sleep in the mud.

But I couldn’t hammock on Littel Chebeague because all the tentsites are in a grassy area. A good rule of thumb is to look at the Delorme Atlas: If the island shows as white, there ain’t no trees.

Setting the hammock up as a bivvy isn’t hard either. If you have a take-apart paddle, that’s all you need for the two posts. Bone up on some friction knot tying or experiment with duct tape for the connection.