Henry Island Preserve

Henry Island

Year protected: 2003 & 2015

Land protected: 78 acres

Shoreline protected: 10,200 feet

Hiking Trails: 1 Mile

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Wind and waves pound from the south into Open Bay, on Henry Island’s south side, piling sediment and driftwood along the back beach, forming the spectacular Henry Island Isthmus, with its rare saltwater marsh. Purchased with help from many generous donors, the isthmus and some of the surrounding forest was permanently protected and folded into SJPT’s preserve system in 2015. The isthmus forms the crossbar of the “H” in Henry Island, joining “Big Henry” with “Little Henry.”

Due to tidal, wind, and wave action, the accumulated sediment gradually is carried away through tidal channels to the shallows of Nelson Bay to the north of the isthmus. What results is a productive and ever-changing mosaic of salt-tolerant plants, tiny forage fish, and the animals that feed upon them—otters, raccoons, herons, osprey, and kingfishers. On either side of the isthmus are forested areas, fully accessible by newly constructed walking trails that allow pedestrians to travel on foot between the “two Henrys.” The Knoll trail on Big Henry, to the west of the isthmus, leads to an open knoll with an expansive view out over the isthmus—a terrific place to sit, eat a lunch, and simply take in the wildlife from a quiet vantage point.

Access: The beaches at Open Bay and on Mosquito Pass (east of the isthmus) are accessible via small watercraft. Pedestrian access only on the trail system. No vehicles of any kind are allowed across the isthmus. The dock in Nelson Bay north of the isthmus is for private use and not open for public moorage.

Learn about the history of this preserve

Visitor Guidelines

  • Dogs on leash & all waste packed out
  • Day use only; no overnight camping or fires
  • Pack in and pack out all litter
  • No hunting or collecting except by special permission (where suitable)
  • Stay on designated trails
  • Respect adjoining private property and do not trespass
  • No motorized vehicles
  • Dock on Nelson Bay is not for public use.
  • No landing of watercraft on Nelson Bay; small watercraft can be landed on Mosquito Pass and Open Bay beaches
  • Please do not build driftwood structures on beaches

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Reviews of this Preserve

1 - 5
Reviews for Henry Island Preserve
Our local favorite

My grandparents bought our family lot back when Henry B had them for sale in the early 60’s and our family has been visiting Henry Island ever since. Open Bay is the centerpiece of the island, a spot that we visit on every trip, and it’s wonderful to see it preserved yet accessible into perpetuity. … All impressive, all appreciated!

An amazing spot

I’ve never been in a place like this before, with an “ithmus” that has a gorgeous driftwood beach and blue bay on one side and a tidal marsh on the other, which is full of birds and other wildlife. So grateful that the Preservation Trust and Henry Islanders teamed up and saved this link between the two sides of the island from being privatized and developed.