Length: 0.6 miles
Witch Island was privately owned until Jane Sewall donated it to the Maine Audubon Society in 1986, which in turn transferred it to Coastal Rivers (then DRA) in 2009. (Sewall also donated Library Park to the DRA.) Previously known as Davis Island, the island was owned from 1897 to 1916 by Grace Courtland Chittenden, who liked to refer to herself as the “Witch of Wall Street”, hence the name Witch Island. When Sewall bought the island in 1964, the existing summer home and a boathouse had been vandalized. She had them both burned and built a small cottage, which still stands.
About 1/2 mile from the town landing in the South Bristol Gut, Witch island is a popular landing spot for kayakers. Additionally, in partnership with Coastal Rivers, 5th and 6th graders from the South Bristol school spend a week on the island every other year to get a hands-on learning experience, make scientific observations and develop an appreciation for the natural surroundings.
Managing organizations: Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust
There are 2 loop trails: a shorter loop on the eastern side with spurs to view points to the northeast and southeast, and a longer loop on the western side with a spur to the cottage and a few other small structures. There are eagle nests near the beach on the north side and the eastern loop trail, but neither appears to have been occupied in recent years.
Directions to Trailhead:
Most kayakers land at the rocky beach on the north side. At the eastern end of this beach is a set of stairs to the trails. There is also a landing spot on the south side, closer to the Gut, with stairs up to a trail spur. Keep an eye on the tides!