Monday, April 6, 2009


Okay, this lighthouse is located on the quiet side of the island, in Treemont, in the village of Bass Harbor. It is very easy to miss the turnoff completely, as it is located on a hairpin curve, and many become confused by the route 102/102A thing. Here's how to find your way to the lighthouse.
Once you pass through Town Hill and Southwest Harbor, you'll start up a hill that rounds a curve, with signs pointing to Manset and Seawall to the left. Turn off 102 at this point, onto 102A. Yes, 102A does loop around in one huge circle, connecting once again to 102, and many tourists end up feeling like they are running in circles, just remember, 102 and 102A are two different roads.
You will pass through Manset shortly after turning onto 102A, taking any of those roads on the left will take you down to the Manset harbor with its ship building factories. A small ferry and mail boat can be caught here for a ride out to the otter Cranberry islands.
Stay on 102A and you will come to the famous natural seawall, in where else, Seawall. Make a stop here for great pictures. Ducks will be in the pond to the right, huge crashing waves on the left. A very short distance ahead on a sharp curve, to the right is the entrance of Seawall campground, run by the park service. No reservations accepted here, first come first served, so can in line early in the morning if you want a tent or RV site. I will have much more on the two park campgrounds in another writeup.
On the left side of the road is the entrance to the Seawall picnic area which also overlooks the ocean. A very nice spot many of the locals come to often. As You continue down 102A you will soon come to the Wonderland trail and parking lot. Not a very large parking lot, and on most days you end up having to park along the side of the road. Thye trail itself is an old fireroad, which ends at a beach., where the trail then does a short circle along the ocean and through the woods, back to the beach. It is not unusual for some people to illegally camp out in the woods here, as there are many paths leading off from the fireroad into the woods. To either side of the beach are little coves that are fun for children to explore.
Warning - even though there are many nice smooth round rocks here, getting caught removing them will get you a date in federal court.
Once you pass the wonderland trail you will shortly come upon the Ship Harbor Trail with its parking lot. Again, on many days you will have to park on the roadside here as well. There is a non-flush bathroom here - hold your nose, do your business and get out as quickly as possible is all the advice I can say. The trail itself goes in so far, before forming a large loop. Right leds through the woods and fields, left pretty much follows the edge of the ocean overlooking ship harbor. Both trails meet again at the entrance of ship harbor. A very nice spot for taking photos.
Once you pass Ship Harbor, you will go through some curves and then come upon the Bass Harbor Campground. It is located on both sides of the road and you can't miss it. For a $5 fee you can get day use of their heated pool.
Now don't blink, because as your passing the campground, you will approach a very sharp curve, with a narrow road to the left. This narrow road is your turnoff - and leads you to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. If you have an RV you will have to park it along the dirt shoulder and walk the quarter mile to the lighthouse, as RV's are not allowed down the road - the parking lot is too small for them. Yes, finally, a place with flush bathrooms...ummm, now the bad news, even though they are flush toilets, these bathrooms are some of the foulest smelling in the entire park.
At the parking lot, what many never realize is that there are actually two footpaths at the lighthouse. The one at the far left of the parking lot leads downward and comes out by the side of the lighthouse itself, with great views of the ocean below. The Bass Harbor Ferry can also be seen making its runs from Bass Harbor to Swans Island. Its good size, as it carries cars and trucks as well as people.
To the far right corner of the parking lot, just beyond the bathrooms, is the trail that leads to a long, steep wooden stairway that winds down to the rocky ledges below the lighthouse. Watch you step, its a long way down. Once on the ledges themselves, follow the path, In two places you can turn off the path for great ocean views, but you have to keep following the path in order to get some very good views of looking up at the lighthouse. On many summer evenings you will find artists down here painting or groups of people on a kodak film tour, taking photos of the stunning sunset.

as you were driving in you should have noticed the large sign warning you to be out of the area by dusk. The reason is that a family lives in the lighthouse, and the park doesn't want people in the area after dark. And yes, they will hand out tickets if your caught in here after dusk.
Once you leave, either get back on 102A and return the same way you came, back towards Southwest Harbor, or Go straight ahead, explore Bass Harbor, then continue until the road rejoins 102. Right takes you back to ?Southwest harbor, left takes you toward Bernard, a small fishing village and home to Thrustons Lobster pound. All the locals eat don't miss it.

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