MITA camping rules

Hi, I’m considering joining the Maine Island Trail Assoc. this year and I’ve sent them an email,but I’ll probably get a faster response here. What are the guidelines for guests (aka non-members) and camping on MITA related islands off the coast of Maine. I’d like to take some friends along, some or all of which are not MITA members. I’m wondering if there is a limit or guideline for guests to camp with me on the islands on the Trail.



It depends
Some of the islands are publcly owned, and some are private. Everyone can use the public ones within the guidelines set forth for that island (And they’re different for every island).

The private islands tend to be members only, or get the owner’s permission in advance. Rules vary by island there as well.

MITA has taken on a stronger role in managing the use of the islands, and most now have limits on the number of campers. They also require zero-impact practices be used.

It would be best to plan your proposed route and then consult the island use guide to see what the rules are on all of your stops. To date, I’ve only done day use and camped on the mainland. I’m planning on some island camping this summer in the Stonington area, but no firm plan as yet.


Hey, that’s where I plan on returning too. I’ve camped at Old Quarry last year but this year, I’d like to do some kayak touring, either staying on Isle au Haut or any of the islands assocaited with MITA there. I’ve gotten a reply from MITA and says that everybody has to be a member on the private ones. But I guess I can join and check out the MITA guide to see which ones are private or not. With 5-6 of us, and only 1 of us in Maine, it is kind of expensive to join MITA for the amount of time I can spend up there so might have to look for a public island. Then of course, I can probably find that out without joinging MITA but then I think MITA is great… Arrgh, decisions… I need to win the lottery.


MITA is a great organization. Why don’t you just become a member. I can’t recall the amount, but it’s not that expensive and it is a good cause. They send you a great book of all of the islands. Very informative and, IMO, worth becoming a member for.

I just did yesterday. We go the Acadia area every year for a week or two. This coming year we’ve rented a house on the Schoodic Peninsula for 2 weeks. I’ve never had a problem in the past but it would be good to know which islands are legal.-----Rich

Definitely worth joining, did three overnight trips last year, all different and great even in bad weather…challenges abound! fg

Where to get maximums
If you join MITA you will get a book stating all of the maximums. As above, do so- the book is critical in planning unless you know the island trail already. Also, it gives you the right to camp on the private islands. Without that you are competing with the outfitters, and that can be tough since it is a first come first served system. The stuff is also posted on each island campsite, but with up to a couple of miles between islands that’s no time to find out you’re over the limit.

Also, be aware that it is leave no trace camping. You’ll need a camping stove because no fires, and supplies to keep and carry out your own waste. All of it.


And the tents…
They should be free-standing - you are not encouraged to use the existing trees etc as major support. Dome tents work quite nicely.

What part of Maine are you thinking about? We know the MITA islands in the Muscongous Bay area decently well, have camped on a few of them and can recommend particular campsites on those.


Just reread and saw that you are looking to be in a different area than Muscongous… enjoy! If the islands are like the ones we’ve camped on, the lack of little critters that eat your food is a real joy too. Very little food protection involved compared to mainland camping.


I don’t have any freestanding tents as I either use a Henry Shires tarptent in the summer or if I’m just solo, a MSR Zoid 1.0 But I have set them up with dead weights, like rocks and stuff. My only concern would be the possible wind conditions on the islands. I would have to find a site on the lee side . Obviously the winds change directions, but are most of the campsites situated where the prevailing winds aren’t sweeping across the campsites?


Camping Sites
Well… though there are protected sites on the larger islands, it’s not a requirement. That is, if you get to an island and most of the tent sites are in use, the one that’s left may be exposed to wind. There are one or two private islands with campsites in the Muscongous area where even getting to the island can be a challenge because of wind and seas, let alone putting up a tent on it. Frankly, I think once in a while the MITA people establish tent sites to prove they have a sense of humor.

Thief Island, a typical larger public island, has mostly sheltered sites but one that faces out to the sea on the south end. It’s a fabulous site if you don’t mind scrambling over rocks to get your gear there. (I am sure someone has landed on that south end but neither my husband or I are remotely good enough to manage it.) But it can get quite windy too.

The area you are going to may not have any of these windy spots, but if you join MITA and get the book those sites will be easy see from the description. One word of caution - MITA always tries to have the book out by May, and always misses the mark just a bit. If you are getting close to the time of leaving and have the membership but not the book yet, you may want to call their office in Rockland to get some advice and/or see if they could send you a last year’s book.