Constructed in 1876, the Bass Harbor Head Light is one of the most famous landmarks of Acadia National Park and is arguably the most iconic and photographed lighthouse in all of Maine. The lighthouse is located at the southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island just south of the town of Bass Harbor and close to the nearby family-friendly Wonderland and Ship Harbor Trails. While the actual lighthouse compound is fenced off, tourists are welcomed to drive to the lighthouse and take a short 10-minute walk to a viewing platform to see the beautiful old lighthouse along the rugged coastline.
NOTE: Due to the extreme popularity of this iconic lighthouse, parking and crowds can be an issue during the height of tourist season.
|Rating:||Short and easy family stroll|
|Access:||Lighthouse Road off of Route 102A south of Bass Harbor|
|Time Required:||roughly 20 minutes (allow more time for random exploration)|
|Length:||1.5 miles roundtrip|
|Elevation Change:||roughly 100-ft descent to viewing area|
|Seasons:||Spring through fall|
To get to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, drive south on Route 102 along the quiet side of Mount Desert Island and take Route 102A south through the town of Bass Harbor to Lighthouse Road and the parking area. (Route 102A is a long loop off of Route 102 and includes the trailheads for the family-friendly Wonderland and Ship Harbor Trails.)
From the parking area, take the well-groomed trail east into the woods along the perimeter of the lighthouse compound. A wooden boardwalk and stairway lead down to the viewing area where you can catch a shot of the lighthouse with the rugged coastline in the foreground You can randomly scramble on the rocks to get a better view, but take care as many of the rocks (especially those covered in black slime) are notoriously slippery. Back at the parking lot, you can also walk around to the right (west) to stand right next to the lighthouse and bell; please obey all posted signs.
One extra option for those looking for a random hike is to follow an old trail of use east from the top of the wooden stairway. This faint old trail has fallen out of use, but it continues along the coastline for about half a mile, offering views and access of the coastline. While not as dramatic as the scenery along Ocean Path, the views are quite nice. Please stick to the main trail and avoid trampling plantlife as much as possible.