Most travelers catch sight of Fort Gorges on Casco Bay cruises that also pass some of Maine’s historic lighthouses, or on a driving tour of Portland’s historic waterfront. To set foot inside the fort, paddle over on a kayak, book a private boat charter, or join a guided tour hosted by the Friends of Fort Gorges—a group that aims to conserve and restore the site. The fort itself appears much as it did in the 19th century, with long-abandoned stone halls encircling a central grassy courtyard.
Things to know before you go
- There are no food, restroom, or trash facilities on the island, so pack in and out everything you need for the day.
- The historic fort structure is not maintained; enter at your own risk and watch for debris and unstable sections.
- Bring a flashlight to explore some of the darker rooms and halls of the fort.
- Overnight camping is not permitted.
- If kayaking, be sure to go pull your boat well ashore on the beach, as water levels can erase much of the landing.
How to get there
Fort Gorges is located on Hog Island Ledge in Portland Harbor. The only way to access the island is by boat, either on a private charter or by kayak. The most common kayak launch points are Bug Light Park and East End Beach; the one-way trip takes about 45 minutes.
When to get there
For safety, Fort Gorges should only be explored during daylight hours. If kayaking, go during calm harbor conditions and try to arrive around low tide for the best beach access.