Bass Harbor Head Light
The cliffside Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, located in the village of Bass Harbor within Tremont, Maine in the United States, marks the entrance to Bass Harbor on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island. The lighthouse was built of brick in 1858 on a stone foundation, stands 56 feet above mean high water and is accessible by car off Route 102A. Parking is free and is open daily from 9:00 AM to sunset.
Lighthouse GPS: Latitude 44.221991; Longitude -68.337198
History of Lighthouse
Congress appropriated $5,000 for the construction of the Bass Harbor Head Light after it was determined that “sufficient need” existed to have a lighthouse near the entrance to Bass Harbor. This was followed by the addition of a fog bell and tower in 1876. However, this was replaced by a substantially larger 4,000 pound (1,800 kg) bell in 1898 when it was installed within the tower. Originally, there was no easy access via a boat landing until one was added in 1894. On January 21, 1988, the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places, reference number 87002273, under the title of Bass Harbor Head Light Station. The United States Coast Guard number for this station is 1-2335. There are occasional tours of the lighthouse tower (only) offered through the Tremont Historical Society (see below).
There is also a keeper's house that remains pretty much in its original form other than the addition of a 10 foot section that was added in 1900. However, the house currently serves as an actual full-time residence for a U.S. Coast Guard family. They, and the National Park Service, ask that their privacy be respected.
The original lighthouse lens was a Fifth Order Fresnel. This was replaced by a Fourth Order Fresnel with a range of 13 nautical miles (15 miles or 24 km) in 1901.
What is Here?
When you arrive at the lighthouse, you will see a path in plain sight on the right side. This will take you next to the tower and lighthouse viewing area where you have a great vantage point to see a panoramic view of the harbor and the islands in the distance. There are some plaques with detailed information about the grounds, the lighthouse, and its history. This also provides a great close-up view of the lighthouse tower itself from the outside only as the building is being used as a private residence.
On the left side of the buildings is a path that appears to go into the tree canopy. Take this path then, bear right. This will take you to a stairway that follows down the front face of the cliff, eventually arriving at a prime spot for capturing a picture of the lighthouse and cliffs like you may have seen here on AcadiaMagic.com or elsewhere. Use utmost caution if you venture down to the rocks below. There are no guardrails or boardwalks for safety once you get to the bottom. This is the rugged and unpredictable Maine coast with its roughness, loose stones, and slippery spots. Also, keep in mind that, if you are not in the best of shape, the climb back up will require more effort since it is steep. There are platforms every so often to allow a short rest (while standing).
You may be surprised to hear that the Bass Harbor Head Light is in Tremont rather than Bass Harbor. The fact is, Bass Harbor is actually a village in the municipality of Tremont along with Bernard, Gotts Island, Seal Cove, and West Tremont.
- First Built in 1858 - National Register of Historic Places
- Original Lighthouse Lens: Fifth Order Fresnel
- Current Lighthouse Lens: Fourth Order Fresnel
- Fog Signal: None
- Lighthouse became automated in 1974.
- Tremont Historical Society:
P.O. Box 215
Bass Harbor, ME 04653
Mon. & Wed. 1:00 - 4:00 PM, EST (207) 244-9753
- Only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island
- Parking Area GPS: Latitude 44.222568; Longitude -68.337273
- The National Park Service may be reached at: 207.288.3338
- Low and High Tides/Sunrise - Sunset Times
- Hulls Cove Visitor Center GPS: Latitude 44.409286; Longitude -68.247501
- Island Explorer Shuttle Bus Service for Mount Desert Island including Acadia
- Tremont Municipal Office:
Route 102, Bass Harbor or P.O. Box 65, Bernard, ME 04612
Gorgeous Cliffside Setting
This is easily one of the most, if not the most, photographed lighthouse in New England. Aside from the fact that it is easily accessed by vehicle or bus, it is in a National Park, and in a stunning cliffside location on Mount Desert Island in Maine, the Vacationland State. There are a few different vantage points. Keep in mind that tides can vary considerably here, and that the angle of the sun, relative to the horizon and the ocean side of the lighthouse, changes widely depending on the season or time of year. During the summer months, it sets behind the lighthouse, if you have ventured down the cliff staircase to get to the ocean level view. When the sun is behind the lighthouse, make sure that you let in more light if you want the buildings and cliff visible. While here, try to visit some of the many great places nearby starting with the village of Bass Harbor itself. To the east and northeast are some great trails and of course, Seawall!