A short boat or kayak ride to Granite Cove beach on George Island brings chances to see whales and marine life along the way. If you arrive at low tide, look for colorful sea stars, sponges, anemones and more in the crevices of the intertidal zone. (Check under the kelp leaves draped over the rocks.)
Explore the lowland areas further to see how nature is taking over an area where workers stayed in the early 1940s while working on the road to the top of the island to facilitate the hauling and installation of a 10-ton Naval gun and eight-ton mount. A half-mile walk uphill to see the gun emplacement is sometimes steep, but worth the views of rocky coves and craggy inlets below. Dwarf dogwood under the evergreens creates a lush carpet of brilliant green, with bursts of color from wildflowers such as bog orchids, asters and common butterwort.
As the top you’ll find the gun emplacement still intact where it was installed to help with coastal defense. During the war years, it was fired only four times (the last time it shifted and broke a Naval serviceman’s toe!). The rest of the time, it was camouflaged, as were the nearby magazine, lookout hut, and Quonset huts.
Recommended before you go: Learn more about this fascinating, nearly lost piece of World War II history by visiting the Elfin Cove Museum.
Trail distance: Half a mile each way on a mostly gravel trail