The founders of the Maine Island Trail, America’s first water trail, set out to “create a small boat waterway with both charm and challenge through some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the United States.” In its 28 years, the Maine Island Trail Association has never owned island properties; instead, through simple handshake agreements with 95 island-owning individuals, families, nonprofits, and government entities, MITA facilitates island access for responsible boating explorers. A current directory of sites on the Trail is laid out in an annual Maine Island Trail guidebook and mobile app, which MITA’s 5,000+ members receive each spring. MITA memberships cost as little as $25 (app only) or $45 (guidebook and app).
The success of the Trail rests on balancing island visitation with volunteer stewardship and visitor education. Every year, hundreds of volunteers conduct stewardship work on the Trail with coordination from MITA staff. Those who travel the Trail pledge to “leave no trace” during their island visits. This reliance on “user-stewardship” engenders a shared commitment among island visitors, volunteers, and owners to care for the Trail. MITA is deeply proud of this three-decade tradition.
Today the Trail is more than seven times larger than it was at its founding, gradually growing from 30 to 217 scenic wild islands and coastal mainland sites from the New Hampshire border to the Canadian border. As the Trail grows, MITA continues to uphold its end of the bargain to island owners and visitors: to keep these magnificent spaces pristine and beautiful.