Deer Isle Tennis Preserve
If you’re considering a trip to the Blue Hill Peninsula and looking for an easy-to-moderate, uncrowded hike through undisturbed forest and shore-hugging trails, check out the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve on Deer Isle. This 145-acre coastal preserve, expanding between Pickering Cove and Southeast Harbor, was donated to the state of Maine by Dr. Edgar M. Tennis in 1972. The land that Tennis desired to remain “forever wild” and open to the public is as rich in history as it is wildlife and beauty.
Parking & Admission
The preserve maintains uncrowded trails by limited parking areas that, once full, designate visitors to return another time. Admission is free and dogs are permitted if on leash. The land trust asks that you stay on the trail, take nothing (but photos!) and leave nothing behind. Motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, camping and fires prohibited.
There are three general expeditions at the preserve to explore – download a map.
Short loop, < 1 mile: this easy trail goes from the parking spots to the foundation of Pickering Farm. Turn left at the shore and hike along Pickering Cove. You’ll return to the road by which you entered the preserve with a short walk back to the car.
Long loop, > 1 mile: this moderate trail with challenging areas loops around the land and allows for detours to the Toothaker family cemetery and shore views. At low tide, you can access the Oven, a mini beach surrounded by pink granite.
Trail sets, > 1 mile: interconnected trails lead to the foundations of the Davis homestead and the present natural habitats left behind.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for...
- Hawks and woodland birds
- Winter ducks in the water
- Eagles and ospreys along the shore
- Seals resting on Toothacher* Ledge
- Apple trees remaining from farming days
- Wild flowers and diverse trees
- Polished rocks with glacial striation
A History of Settlers
Artifacts found on the property indicate that Native Americans lived along the shorelines for up to 2,000 years, according to the Island Heritage Trust. Later, deeds from the 1790s show that the land was settled by Elijah and Elizabeth Toothaker, whose family cemetery can still be seen on the preserve today. Further on in history, the Pickering and Davis families farmed there. Eventually, the Tennis family purchased the property in 1944 from artist Chase Emerson, who had purchased the shore-side farmhouse in 1914.
*Note that the cemetery spells the family name “Toothaker,” but the ledge is spelled “Toothacher.”
From Bangor: 54 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 133 miles
From Portland: 155 miles