Maine is an absolutely fabulous place for lighthouse lovers. With the second longest coastline in the US (second only to Alaska) there are 65 lighthouses scattered up and down the coast – and even in some rivers.
It is not easy to visit many of the lighthouses as many are located on islands and some are now privately owned. Few lighthouses allow the public inside. If you wish to see the interior workings of lighthouses then I strongly recommend making a trip to Maine during Maine Open Lighthouse Day – usually held on the second Saturday of September. During that time numerous lighthouses are opened to the public, often it’s the only time during the year you can enter many of these facilities.
If you’re not here during that one day a year then we have a suggested itinerary for people wishing to see lighthouses in Midcoast Maine. This list starts in the Portland area and moves north ending at Marshall Point Lighthouse, which coincidentally is also where Forrest Gump ended his cross country run. Even with this curated list of lighthouses, it will take you more than a day to visit them all, we recommend 2 to 3 days to see all the lighthouses and explore Midcoast Maine. Our hotel, Wiscasset Woods Lodge, is the perfect place to stay on your trip as we’re close to everything in Midcoast Maine.
Start in the Portland area where three lighthouses are in close proximity. Portland Headlight, Spring Point and Buglight
Portland Headlight is Maine’s first lighthouse built in 1791 during the presidency of George Washington. It is also the first lighthouse completed in the US after independence from Britain. This is often called the “most visited” light house in Maine and is a stop for tour buses and cruise boats. It is situated in a large park occupied by Fort Williams, you can walk around the remnants of the old fort or along the cliff trail. On the trail you can see 3 other lighthouses – Bug Light, Spring Point Light and Ram Island Ledge Light (not to be confused with Ram Island Light).
You can only go inside Portland Headlight on open lighthouse day or in special tour groups. There is no fee to enter the park but there is a nominal fee to park your vehicle there.
Close by is Spring Point Lighthouse, this lighthouse is built on a the end of a breakwater. The breakwater was built out of large granite blocks. It takes about 10 minutes to walk out to the lighthouse and not recommended for people with mobility issues. Once at the lighthouse, we always marvel at the amount of boat traffic on the water. You can see ferries, water taxis, cruise boats, sailboats and lobster boats all at once.
To get to Spring Point we like to park at Willard Beach and walk down the beach to access the trail to the lighthouse. This is a popular beach with a restroom, but use caution as the bathroom is open only during the summer months. You can also access the lighthouse from Southern Maine Community College. I have been at the lighthouse where there’s been an outhouse available and when there’s not been an outhouse. So plan accordingly.
Bug Light is also in the nearby area. To be honest, we’ve never visited Bug Light but apparently there’s a small park along with the lighthouse.
Bath was once the busiest ship building area in the US and still is the home to Bath Iron Works who build destroyers for the military. Because of all the boats being built and then launched along the Kennebec River, lighthouses were needed to help captains navigate the 11 miles out to the ocean. My favorite way to view these lighthouses is the tour boat from the Maine Maritime Museum. The boat tour includes both Doubling Point and Squirrel Point shown below.
This is a cute river lighthouse with an iconic walkway. It’s easy to see from the Bath’s Southend Dog Park or the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. It’s called Doubling Point because ships traveling the river had to make a steep turn and then double back again.
This river lighthouse is accessible via a 2/3 mile trail though the woods. You can’t enter the lighthouse, but you can walk around it and the lighthouse keepers house. Some of the panes in the lighthouse are red and some are clear. This helps boats line up as they must be able to see the light through the clear panes if they’re going to make the turn.
This is hands down my favorite lighthouse and one I’m always recommending to guests. This is one of the few lighthouses you can actually go into throughout most of the summer. It’s great to actaully be able to climb up into a lighthouse and see what it’s like. It also has these gorgeous rocks going down to the ocean. This is a great place for tidepooling and exploring. But be careful as we’ve had a guest break a bone in a fall there. There are some picnic tables under the pines if you want a good spot for a picnic. There is a fee to enter the park.
Owls Head Lighthouse
Owls Head is located near Rockland. To get there take a lovely walk through the woods with the waves crashing on the cliff below. This lighthouse has limited hours when you can enter the lighthouse. Usually it’s open from Memorial Day to Labor Day on Monday afternoons (1-4) and Saturday & Sunday (10-4). But this is dependent on weather and volunteer availability. Either way you can walk around the outside of lighthouse and it is a lovely walk out there.
The Rockland Breakwater is similar to Springpoint Light, but at the end of an even longer causeway. To create a protected harbor in Rockland, a breakwater was built. Then to keep ships from running into the breakwater a lighthouse was built at the far end. The walk to the lighthouse is about 3/4 of a mile each direction on top huge, square granite blocks. While you can’t enter the lighthouse, it is a nice walk and often there are a variety of sealife to see on the way. This is not a walk to do in bad weather as in storms the water washed over the granite blocks. And there is no bathroom available anywhere, so plan accordingly.
This is the lighthouse where Forrest Gump ended his cross country run and the final lighthouse in our tour as well. When you travel to the lighthouse you’ll realize that no one would accidentally wind up here as there are so many twists and turns to get to the lighthouse. It was probably chosen do the its picturesque walkway.