Squirrel Point Light: Guiding Mariners Through Time
Squirrel Point Light, nestled on tranquil Arrowsic Island in Maine, has stood tall since its construction in 1898. This iconic lighthouse overlooks the serene Kennebec River, serving as both a navigational beacon and a testament to the region’s maritime history and natural beauty. Join us on an exploration of Squirrel Point Light, its intriguing history, role in guiding mariners, and the captivating outdoor experiences it offers to visitors.
The lighthouse itself exudes charm and quaintness, making it a delightful destination.
Arrowsic Island, home to Squirrel Point Light, is a peaceful haven with a population of fewer than 600 residents. This idyllic island serves as a picturesque backdrop to the lighthouse, offering a glimpse into a simpler way of life. As you approach the island, the lighthouse’s silhouette beckons, hinting at the history and beauty that await your arrival.
Squirrel Point Light is part of a quartet of historic lighthouses that have served the Kennebec River for over a century. These lighthouses, dating back to the 1800s, were strategically positioned to create a cohesive lighting system for the river. Alongside Squirrel Point Light, you can spot Perkins Island Lighthouse, Kennebec River Range Lights, and Doubling Point Light. Together, they have safely guided countless ships between the Atlantic Ocean and Bath, Maine.
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Squirrel Point Light is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, and while it’s a historical landmark and the buildings themselves are private, the grounds are open to the public. Basic facilities like restrooms are not available on-site. The lighthouse is surrounded by approximately 640 acres of pristine land, diligently maintained by the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy. These organizations play a crucial role in preserving the natural beauty of the area.
The terrain around Squirrel Point Light is shaped by the ebb and flow of tides and river currents. During exceptionally high tides, the footbridge along the main path may become partially submerged, adding an element of adventure to your visit. As you explore the surroundings, keep an eye out for diverse wildlife and the rhythmic sounds of the natural world.
For an alternative view of Squirrel Point Light, head to the opposite bank of the Kennebec River, near the Phippsburg Congregational Church. From this vantage point, you can admire the majestic lighthouse across the water, a view that has inspired artists and photographers for generations.
Squirrel Point Light has undergone significant changes over the years, reflecting advancements in technology and changes in maritime navigation. Once operated by a dedicated keeper, the lighthouse transitioned to fully automated operation in 1979. The iconic Fresnel lens, once a guiding light for mariners, now resides at the museum at Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
In 2008, a significant environmental step was taken when the U.S. Coast Guard shifted Squirrel Point Light’s power source from electric to solar, embracing eco-friendly practices and efficiency.
The haunting notes of the foghorn, once a vital tool for maritime safety, now remain silent, replaced by modern GPS equipment used by today’s vessels.
Squirrel Point Light’s history extends beyond technology; it’s also a story of community guardianship. In 1996, following the enactment of the Maine Lights Program, Squirrel Point Light was transferred to a private entity, Squirrel Point Associates. The deed specified that the property be used for the public benefit and maintained in accordance with the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act.
However, challenges arose. In 2002, a preservation group known as Citizens for Squirrel Point filed a lawsuit, seeking to activate the reversion clause in Squirrel Point’s deed. Their claim was based on the assertion that Squirrel Point Associates had failed to honor the deed’s requirements. In 2005, the court ruled in favor of Citizens for Squirrel Point.
Recognizing the importance of preserving this historic landmark, the U.S. Coast Guard granted Citizens of Squirrel Point a license to “provide access to the site for the educational benefit of the public and maritime industry… as well as all purposes consistent with the repair, maintenance, and historic restoration of the facility.”
This marked a new chapter in the history of Squirrel Point Light, where the community actively participated in the stewardship of this cherished landmark. Volunteers and enthusiasts joined forces to ensure the lighthouse remained a beacon of history, culture, and maritime heritage.
The allure of Squirrel Point Light extends beyond its historical significance and natural beauty. Artists and photographers have long been captivated by the lighthouse’s picturesque setting. Its red brick exterior, complemented by the vivid green of the surrounding landscape, provides the perfect subject for creative expression.
The changing seasons add another layer of charm to Squirrel Point Light. In the spring, the island awakens with the vibrant colors of wildflowers. Summer bathes the landscape in warm, golden sunlight. Fall brings a kaleidoscope of reds and oranges to the trees, creating a stunning contrast with the lighthouse’s brick façade. Even in winter, when the landscape is blanketed in snow, Squirrel Point Light stands as a stoic sentinel against the elements.
Squirrel Point Light, with its rich maritime heritage, natural beauty, and community involvement, stands as a beacon not only for mariners but for all who appreciate the harmony of history and nature. Whether you visit to explore its hiking trails, admire its picturesque setting, or delve into its history, Squirrel Point Light welcomes you to be a part of its enduring story.
Squirrel Point Light Trails
Beyond the lighthouse and the river’s tranquility, Arrowsic Island offers a network of hiking trails that wind through its rugged landscape. These trails provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty and offer encounters with local wildlife.
The Squirrel Point Loop Trail is a relatively easy hike that introduces you to the island’s charm, meandering through lush forests and offering glimpses of the river and wetlands.
If you seek a longer journey, the Central Trail is a 2.5-mile path that takes you deeper into the heart of the island, with opportunities to observe wildlife and wildflowers.
For a challenge and the chance to reach the island’s highest point, embark on the Bald Head Trail. This 1.5-mile uphill hike leads to the summit of Bald Head, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Back River. Keep an eye out for the majestic Bald Eagles that call this region home.
What’s Nearby Squirrel Point Light
Squirrel Point Light, a maritime gem on Arrowsic Island in Maine, has stood as a sentinel since its construction in 1898. This historic lighthouse overlooks the serene Kennebec River and is part of a quartet of lighthouses that have guided mariners for over a century. As you explore the lighthouse and its surroundings, you’ll uncover a rich maritime history intertwined with the lush natural beauty of the region. Nearby attractions like Reid State Park, with its pristine sandy shores, Popham Beach State Park, known for its rugged beauty, and the historic Fort Popham offer additional opportunities for exploration, ensuring that a visit to Squirrel Point Light is just the beginning of your maritime adventure in this captivating part of Maine.
Squirrel Point Light Parking Information
To embark on your journey to Squirrel Point Light, follow these simple directions. Travel south on Route 1 in Woolwich and take a right onto 127 South, heading towards Reid State Park. After a scenic 4.5-mile drive along 127 South, turn right onto Bald Head Road. Continue along Bald Head Road for 2.2 miles until you reach the road’s end, where you’ll find a parking area.
From there, follow the well-marked 2/3-mile trail that winds through protected forests and wetlands. While the path may be uneven and rough in some places, it’s a manageable adventure for most visitors. Cross the charming wooden footbridge over the tidal stream, and follow the signs guiding you to Squirrel Point Light. Please note that during exceptionally high tides, the footbridge may be partially submerged. So, put on your walking shoes, prepare for a scenic stroll, and get ready to explore the historic Squirrel Point Light in all its glory.