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Land's end: The five smallest islands in Boston Harbor

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They can't all be Deer Island, with its 60 acres of parkland and 2.6 miles of shoreline. No, some of the many islands of Boston Harbor (and Hingham, Dorchester, Massachusetts and Quincy bays) are but tiny affairs. Of the five smallest by area, one is little more than a beacon and another is a mere pile of rocks. Not surprisingly, then, most are inhospitable to people; and one that does welcome visitors warns of its angry birds. We'll start with the biggest.

Ragged Island
Ragged Island unfolds over 4.1 acres—not that you'd want to necessarily check it out. According to the National Park Service (NPS), there are no paths on the spit and "most areas are impenetrable due to poison ivy and brambles." Perhaps needless to say, there are no buildings, picnic areas, etc., though there is drinking water. And the island's 30-foot elevation offers views of Boston.

Sheep Island
Three centuries ago Sheep Island was some 25 acres. Erosion has reduced it to 3.2 acres with an elevation of 10 feet. There are no buildings or picnic areas, but there are rudimentary paths. Be warned, however! "Resident birds are very territorial during nesting: visitation is discouraged during this season," according to the NPS.

The Graves
This 1.8-acre spit is now privately owned and very possibly on its way to becoming one of the region's coolest tourist attractions. The owner, who won the island and nearby land in a government auction in late 2014, may open its 113-foot lighthouse to the public.
Shag Rocks
This 1.3-acre pile is not open to the public and, in fact, has been the site of several shipwrecks.

Nixes Mate
Also called Nix's Mate, the rocky shoal is barely there. Officially, it's not really an island at all, but a former (or sunken) one. A day beacon/channel marker made of wood and concrete, with a granite base, rises from Nixes Mate as a navigational tool.
· Here's a Load of Crap About Greater Boston's Deer Island [Curbed Boston]
· Coolest Man in Greater Boston Builds Out His Lighthouse [Curbed Boston]
· Our Better Know an Island archive [Curbed Boston]
· Our Micro Week 2015 archive [Curbed Boston]