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.