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Visiting Guidelines

Using the Trail

Being a responsible user of Trail islands means following Leave No Trace practices as outlined by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a national non-profit dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and respect for wild lands through a model of outdoor low-impact skills and ethics. Because of the unique character of island settings, more detailed information about dealing with human waste on islands is listed below.

The Trail Guide contains more information about LNT and other ways to be a conscientious Trail user. Because sites are added to and removed from the Trail every year, and usage guidelines may change, it’s important to have a current copy of the Guide or Mobile App with you when you travel the Trail.

Safety on the Trail

Maine’s islands are a remote wilderness, and visiting them safely requires diligence, knowledge, observation, and preparation. Please make sure that you have the appropriate skill, experience, and equipment for navigating Maine’s coastal waters before heading out.

Proper Disposal of Human Waste

It is illegal to discharge solid human waste into U.S. waters.  On islands, exposed waste is a biohazard and digging “catholes” is not appropriate due to shallow, easily eroded soils. So what do you do when nature calls? MITA requests that all island visitors carry off solid human waste and dispose of it safely on the mainland.

General tips for human waste on islands:
– Choose a location with a privy or toilet. For those who are not adequately equipped or feel uneasy about carrying off human waste, we suggest visiting Trail islands that have a privy or staying at shoreside lodging with restroom facilities.
– Urinate on rocks or sandy areas away from camp or below the high tide line. 
– Pack out your toilet paper. It is not as biodegradable as you might think.

Pack-it-out methods for human waste on the Trail:
– Personal disposable toilet products: These are plastic bag systems with chemicals that break down the human waste. Used bags can be deposited in mainland trash. Examples include the GO Anywhere Toilet Kit (formerly Wag Bag), the RESTOP, and the Biffy Bag.

 Boombox or Ammobox: These portable toilet-style devices are suitable for motor and sailboats. Appropriate disposal at marine pump-out stations.

– Crap wrap: This system promoted by a MITA member involves newspaper and Ziploc bags. You will want full-page sheets of newspaper and freezer-grade Ziploc bags (both sandwich and gallon size). Deposit your solid waste and used toilet paper on the lower third of the newsprint sheet and direct urine elsewhere. Holding the newsprint at the sides, fold up the bottom, fold in the outside edges, and complete folding it toward the top. Fit this package into the Ziploc sandwich bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing. Accumulate sealed sandwich bags in the gallon bag. When back ashore, dispose of the contents of the sandwich bags (not the plastic bags themselves) into a privy or campground waste facility.

– Tupperware party or bucket bowl: Any plastic container with a water-tight lid (for individuals) or a 5-gallon bucket with a tight-fitting lid (for groups or boaters with ample storage space). Line with an appropriately-sized plastic bag and fill one quarter of the container with seawater, kitty litter, sand or other inert material, and a porta-potty deodorizer to absorb odors. Back on shore, empty the contents into a privy  and disinfect the container for future use.

Invasive Plants

The Maine Island Trail Association manages invasive plants on Trail islands based on their ecological impact and potential impact to the recreational experience. The most effect way to combat invasive plants is to find them before they are well established, so MITA focuses on early detection & rapid response. Island visitors can assist in this effort by serving as “invasive plant scouts”. Using identification resources from the Maine Invasive Species Network, visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes out for invasive plants and report suspected infestations to MITA.

If you find invasive plants on the Trail, please report the following to the MITA office by calling (207) 761-8225 or emailing

  • Name of Trail Site
  • Suspected Plant (photos are helpful for positive ID)
  • Description of Colony Size (e.g. number of plants or an estimate of area covered)
  • Nature of Colony (e.g. scattered plants, dense thicket, vines covering trees, etc)