Things to Do
Exploring the Light Station
The Keeper's House
The keeper's house was built in 1872 and was home to lighthouse keepers and their families for about 100 years. The house is typical for the time, and only minor changes have been made over the years. There are three main rooms downstairs (parlor, dining room and kitchen), plus a pantry and a cistern room (the rain water cistern was the water supply for the house). The porch or piazza on the oceanside gives a long view to the southeast. Upstairs are two large bedrooms, a small room that was later converted to a bathroom, a tiny office, and a large attic. It must have been crowded during the Chandler years, when 13 family members called this home!
The Light Tower
First lit up in August 1872, the light tower is about 35 feet high and is capped with a square iron platform and dome. Inside the tower, metal steps climb to the Watch Room; from the Watch Room a ladder leads up to the light. The light was originally a 4th order Fresnel lens, but in 1975 the Coast Guard removed the lens, which was replaced with an automatic 250 mm optic. The Coast Guard remains responsible for the light, which is an active aid to navigation.
The Oil House
The oil house was built in 1895 to hold supplies of kerosene, which was the fuel used in the light. To reduce the risk of fire, it had brick walls and a slate roof and was placed some distance from the house. Kerosene was a big improvement over the fuel burned previously -- lard, which solidified in cold weather. Today, the oil house is used for storage, and the light draws electrical power from an array of solar panels, with back up power from the electrical grid.
The Bell House
The bell house was built in 1911. At that time, it was a tall, tapering, rectangular building housing a mechanical system to ring the bell. Weights had to be wound up to the top of the tower, and as they descended they caused a hammer to strike the bell. When that system was no longer needed, the bell house was cut down to its present height.
Walking the Trails
The Lighthouse Park Trails
Approximately 1.8 miles of marked trails wind around Hockamock Head. Trail entrances are marked, and a map is available at the Information Kiosk. Trails are of moderate difficulty (except for the ADA accessible trail, see below). Trails can be slippery in foggy and wet conditions. There are roots and rocks along the paths, which are steep in places. The road into the park is not accessible in icy conditions and is not plowed in winter.
Long Point Beach Trail
The Long Point Beach Trail, on the ocean side of Hockamock Head, can be accessed from the parking lot by the sign as you enter the park. The trail goes through spruce woods and over a bog bridge to rocky Long Point Beach, with views of Marshall Island. This portion of the trail borders private property; please be respectful of this. At the eastern end of Long Point Beach, an artists' bench provides a place to stop before traveling the more difficult coastal path up to the road to the Light Station buildings. After visiting the buildings, you can walk up the road to the 200' ADA path to the summit. Here you will see spectacular ocean views of Marshall Island, Merchants Row, Isle au Haut and, on clear days, the wind turbines on Vinalhaven. The trail continues beond the ADA path; the return loop will take you through dense forest, along the edge of a utility easement, and back down to the parking lot.
Burying Point Trail
The Burying Point Trail, on the harbor side of Hockamock Head, can be accessed from the summit parking lot or from the trail behind the Light Station fuel house. This trail has a very different environment from the oceanside (Long Point Beach) trail. Beneath a forest canopy lies a stony, mossy path down a steep hill and along a high treed bank at the water's edge. The trail ends at Burying Point Beach. A return loop will take you up stone stairs to the summit parking lot.
Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, ospreys, and other coastal birds. A nature guide is available at the keeper's house -- a great resource for identifying common birds and plants on Hockamock Head and around the island. Also pick up a free brochure on the geology of the headland.
The ADA Accessible Trail
There is a short (about 200 feet) hardpacked reclaim trail starting across the road from the summit parking lot and leading to the summit of Hockamock Head where there is a natural stone bench. The trail is a perfect way for wheelchair bound persons or persons with limited mobility to experience the natural environment, as well as spectacular ocean views to the west and southwest. There is an ADA accessible vault toilet adjacent to the summit parking lot.
Some Places to Visit on Swan's Island
The following places are open to the public. Please treat them with respect: take nothing but memories, leave nothing but tracks.
Carrying Place Beach is the easiest beach to reach by car. Part sandy and part rocky, it is a good place to swim on a warm day when the tide is up.
Fine Sand Beach is on Toothaker Bay. It is a crescent of white sand between pink granite ledges. It is not accessible by car. There is a trail through the woods from the parking lot. The trail is not the easiest, it is uneven with many spruce roots and (usually) puddles or muddy sections. But the beach is well worth the 10 minute walk!
Millpond Park in Minturn is a fine place for a picnic. No beach; but there are picnic tables, an open area, and a short trail at the north end.
Quarry Pond in Minturn is at the site of one of Swan's Island's historic quarries. Picnic tables, trails and great views!
Swan's Island Library The Swan's Island Educational Society (SIES) is the proud owner of the new library building at 451 Atlantic Road. Besides books, AV materials and a wireless hotspot, the library has art exhibits and historic displays. A great place to stop on a rainy day! Phone: 207-526-4330
Swan's Island School 116 Rose Hill Road has a children's playground and a soccer field.
High Head Beach Trail is reached from East Point Road. The trail starts at the top of the bank at the west end of the beach, follows the coast then climbs up to granite ledges with excellent views. Moderate difficulty, about 30 minutes. The trail is maintained by Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
The Lobster and Marine Museum, adjacent to the ferry terminal, has a fine collection of fishing and boatbuilding artifacts from Swan's Island and a treasury of information.