News from Hockamock Head – Spectacular Improvement in Lighthouse Trails



Danger Trail Closed No AccessLast winter there were some tree falls along the cliffside section of the Long Point Beach trail on Hockamock Head. The tree roots took chunks of the cliff with them, and as a result the trail was undercut. The Town Lighthouse Committee took charge, and asked a trail expert from Maine Coast Heritage Trust to evaluate the trail. His advice was “Close the trail, right away!” We did.




It was clear that repairing the trail was not a task for amateurs. We needed to move a couple of hundred feet of trail away from the cliff edge, and the terrain was really difficult – steep, uneven and ledgy.


Rachel Fern Conferring On The Trail
Rachel & Fern conferring on the trail.
Photo © Harbor View Studio (Dale Joyce)
Time for more expert advice. Teams from Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) helped build the original Hockamock Head trails, and were the ideal candidates to do the repairs. The Lighthouse Committee applied for a fall trail team to repair the Long Point Beach trail. We applied, they accepted, and Rachel Herr, potential team leader, came out to take a look. Rachel surveyed the area with the Lighthouse Committee’s trail boss extraordinaire Fern Burns, and plans were made. Rachel estimated that the project would take a 3 person team 3 weeks.




Help from several sources helped get the trail project off the ground:


    • The MCC teams are not for free; the cost is substantial. FOSIL (Friends of the Swan’s Island Lighthouse), which provides financial assistance for the Town’s lighthouse projects, guaranteed the necessary funds.


    • The team needed accommodations. The Methodist Church made the annex available, and the firemen allowed use of the showers at the firehouse.


    • The Lighthouse Committee needed a representative on site while the team was working. Fern and husband George Kuck agreed to stay on island through early November to see the project through.



Methodist Church




On October 16 the team arrived – Rachel Herr, Nathan Fuller and Will Spangler. Over the next 3 weeks, several other MCC’ers rotated in and out, plus a couple of super volunteers. The team also enjoyed superb community support. Besides Fern and George, there were island volunteers – Lily Ellison, Ben Smith, Stephanie K, Jessica and Allen Harrington – and Ben Thelwell from the University of Maine. In addition:


  • Bill Banks contributed time and materials – rocks, equipment to move them, and Tim’s time for transport.


  • Terry Towne from Maine Coast Heritage Trust advised and assisted.


  • Sonny Sprague contributed lobsters for the project close-out lobster dinner.


  • As team sponsors, we had an obligation to provide some educational opportunities for the team. The Historical Society (Gwen, Dexter and Bev) presented information on the economic and social history of the island.


  • Informal education: An old engine block found in the woods became Exhibit A for a spontaneous outdoor seminar on the workings of engines, led by Nathan Fuller of the MCC, assisted by Swan’s Islander Ben Smith and trail boss Fern Burns (who, among her many talents, is a certified marine diesel mechanic).


  • EBS contributed materials for the viewing platform.


  • The Swan’s Island Library provided indispensable backup, especially important when the power was out and the team were preparing their final report.


  • Brummy provided occasional emotional support and a cheerful doggy presence.


  • Jessica Harrington and Dale Joyce took photos to document progress.



Bill Banks' truck delivering rocks

Bill Banks’ truck delivering rocks.


Lily Ellison working the come-along

Lily Ellison working the come-along


MCC'ers move rocks...

MCC’ers move rocks…


...and that is some hard work!

…and that is some hard work!



Photos 3 & 4 – © Harbor View Studio (Dale Joyce)


A big thank you to every volunteer, and to everyone who supported the team, directly and indirectly.




While the original plan had been to create a new trail entrance from Harbor Road close to the keeper’s house, Fern and Rachel came up with a better plan. As finally built, the new entrance is from the wheelchair accessible trail across from the information kiosk. (Please note – there is no entrance from the road by the keeper’s house.) So the Long Point Beach loop is now completely off road. It’s also away from the cliff edge and more accessible for less agile hikers.







Description of the trail: Close to the end of the wheelchair accessible trail, just before the original stone bench, you bear off to the left, and after about 50 feet you will come to a new observation platform with a wooden bench. Continue down the hill to another stone bench, followed by a flight of granite stairs bearing right and joining the old path along the shore to Long Point Beach and out to the valley. The trail, and especially the stairs, have been built with check steps and french drains, all with an eye to preventing erosion on this steep and exposed slope.



The trail takes shape


The trail takes shape


The trail takes shape




The trail takes shape — and the work goes on, whatever the weather.




The MCC team did a great job, working hard in fine weather with moderate temperatures the first week, and working just as hard (or harder) through fierce winds, rain and a four day power outage later in the project. They brought enthusiasm, expertise, and great spirit to the project.


Their last night on the island, a lobster dinner was scheduled. No electricity – but the lobsters got done with a propane cooker, and after dinner the team members were treated to a knitting lesson by candlelight. A great end to the project!



What a team



Photo © Harbor View Studio (Dale Joyce)


What A Team Banner

What Visitors Have To Say

Our stay at the lighthouse keepers apartment was lovely. the place has been decorated in a simple and serene way and the kitchen had all we needed. The view and location is splendid and all involved with the property were friendly.

- Teresa, September 2023

Our stay at the lighthouse — and our week on Swan's Island — exceeded expectations. We packed light, arrived via bikes, and easily navigated the island without a car. Tracy and everyone we met welcomed us and went out of their way to make us feel at home. We felt very privileged to stay in this thoughtfully restored historic building. Kudos to the tireless volunteers! We look forward to returning.

- Tekla, September 2023

The Lightkeeper’s apartment is a unique and beautiful treasure, not to be missed! I feel like I want to tell everyone I know about this cozy, charming little place, yet at the same time keep it a secret; to be shared only amongst those who know. You get to live in a lighthouse, on an island, off the coast of Maine!!! Need I say more?!?

- Dillon September 2023

This was the trip and stay of a lifetime! New England and island life at its best. We had the opportunity and fortune to meet some of the nicest people ever! Swans Island people gave us a giant welcoming hug!!

- Susan and family, July 2021

Our hosts were WONDERFUL and helpful, and being able to go up into the lighthouse tower was amazing. An all around unforgettable experience. THANK YOU!

- Michael and Kurt, June 2021

This is our first time to Swan’s Island and the Keeper’s House Apartment….How lucky we are to have found this treasure! We loved our week of peace, nature, and beauty. The shimmering water, the ever-changing sky and clouds, the trails in the woods …made for a restorative week.

- Paul and Bonnie, August 2020

This place quietly, simply, intoxicates you. Senses are full; smell, sights, sounds … yet not enough to overwhelm, just enough to soothe, just enough to make you fully aware of the natural gift Hockamock offers.

- Conrad and Michelle, August 2020

What a perfect holiday!! … Heaven on earth …lobster every night for dinner, fabulous hikes, amazing kayaking, spectacular sunsets…But perhaps the most cherished memory is the kind and lovely people of this island….

- Mary Beth & Michael, Sept. 2020

I have always wanted to stay at a lighthouse and now my dream has come true! The keeper’s quarters and the entire lighthouse park completely exceeded my expectations! Thanks for providing everything my son and I needed for a perfect stay and such amazing hospitality….

- Kristin and Izak, Sept. 2020

What a magic place. Sun and moon glinting off the water. The lighthouse beam in the trees, the sound of a gentle surf when the tide is in. The bell buoy ringing in the channel. Wonderful sunsets.

- Mike and Kathy, September 2019

The view out our window - moonlight on the ocean, porpoises, giant owls - plus the sound of the gong, and the wild berries…truly a special experience.

- Rebecca and Rich, August 2019

The apartment is beautiful. And the view is amazing! We could not have asked for a better vacation. We plan to return!

- Ann and Dave, September 2018

Thank you to ALL who made our stay so wonderful and relaxing. To the Islanders who told of trails to explore, thank you! We look forward to returning to this little piece of heaven on earth.

- Heather and Jamie, September 2018

From the amazing Light Keeper’s House to the beautiful view from the porch of the same, the amazingly friendly people, and our daily hikes along this rugged Maine Coast. Everything was perfect.

- Leesa and Howard, August 2018

Everything is magical! This is one of the best vacations! Ever!

- Ronald and Janet, July 2018

The beauty you offer is immeasurable. The clarity of light, wind, and Downeast character here recharged me.

- Lee, June 2018

What a wonderful place! We were in awe the moment we arrived. What a quiet and peaceful location for a vacation.

- David and Lorie, June 2018

You truly have a treasure perched out here atop the rocks with the vast sea at the doorstep. We watched a bright moon spilling its light onto the water, listening to the music of the waves, and wondering anew at the stars emerging in the dark sky.

- Susan, September 2017

This has been a lifetime experience! The beauty of Swan’s Island can’t be described in words or photographs, for they just don’t do it justice. I look forward to coming back again next year!

- Lacy, September 2017

We just stayed there and it is tremendous. The view and setting are amazing. The quality of the Keeper's house (2nd floor) is excellent. It is fresh, well decorated, and spacious.

- Mary, July 2017

We are fortunate to have traveled to many places in this world, but still contend, by far, this is the prettiest place on earth. Stay in the keeper's house. You will not be disappointed!!!! It is special.

- Spencer, July 2017