Bass Harbor, Maine, is a perfect example of a quaint little fishing village on what is called the “quiet” or “back” side of Mount Desert Island - home of a large portion of Acadia National Park. It is located on the southwest section of the island, on the opposite side of an inlet from Bernard. Many people are surprised to hear that Bass Harbor and Bernard are not separate towns at all but are both part of the municipality of Tremont. Bass Harbor is filled with coastal photo opportunities like lobster boats and traps, winding roads, and buildings characteristic of the area. The famous Bass Harbor Head Light is located here on park land. This is one of the most photographed lighthouses in America.
There was a point in time when Bass Harbor was actually called “McKinley.” How it came to be called this sounds like a story right out of some frequently told Down East story book. But apparently, it is true. During the early 1900's, a U.S. Post Office had just been constructed in the village when it was noted that a name for the village and post office had not yet been decided upon. This prompted some federal officials to ask some locals what they preferred for a name. The snappy reply was “Name it after the President for all we care!” So, from that time on until the name was finally changed in 1961 by a petition to Bass Harbor, the area was called “McKinley” after the then President McKinley.
If you are traveling to Bass Harbor from the mainland, simply go straight as you cross over to Mount Desert Island. There will be two choices. Left takes you directly to Bar Harbor via Route 3. You need to take Route 102 South. This will go through Somesville and Southwest Harbor. Immediately on the south side of Southwest Harbor, there are two options. Take Route 102 A on the left if you want to go by Wonderland Trail and Seawall (with its ocean view). For the more direct route, stay on Route 102 South. Both will take you there.
Regular ferry service is available from Bass Harbor to Swans Island and Frenchboro.
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