The lighthouse was recently handed over to the National Park Service. The sunsets below the Lighthouse are so beautiful the Kodak Company conducts classes there from time to time during the summer months and it is not unusual to find an artist or two painting along the rocks. You can watch as the Swans Island Ferry enters and exits the harbor and on sunday's you might catch the ship Sunbeam as it passes heading to or from the otter islands to conduct church services.
The park service does not allow people in the area of the lighthouse after sunset. Best way to reach the Bass Harbor Lighthouse by way of the free Island Explorer buses, catch the bus at the Bar Harbor Village green, you want the Tremont/Southwest Harbor bus. Get off the bus at the Bass Harbor Campground stop and at the sharp curve just ahead is a street sign "Lighthouse road" - the lighthouse is about a twenty minute walk down a narrow country road.
The Bass Harbor Campground is a great camping option with affordable prices and a heated pool. They also have cabin rentals.
Not far down the road from the campground is the Ship Harbor Nature Trail and just beyond that is the Wonderland Trail, an old fire road that leads to a beach.
If you want to depart the lighthouse by bike or car, and take a ferry ride to Swans Island, head down the road into the town of bass harbor and look for signs just past the fire department for the turn to the Swans Island ferry. There is an extra charge for bikes or cars on the Ferry or you can park your car and take the trip.
RV's, trailers and buses are not allowed onto the Lighthouse Road because the lighthouse parking lot can not handle them. Also of note, there are two paths at the parking lot, the one to the far right leads to the side of the lighthouse with ocean views. The path by the restrooms to the far left of the parking lot leads to a set of steep wooden stairs to the rocks below. A path leads to some great views of the lighthouse from below.
If your looking for an affordable place to stay and a place that is within a ten minute walk to all the shops and waterfront, this is the place. The jesup Library with computer room is just down the street as is the Bar Harbor Village green where the free Island Explorer buses arrive and depart from. A short walk down Kebo street takes you to the Great Meadow Trail in Acadia National Park which connects to other hiking trails in Acadia National Park, including the Jesup Trail which leads to the Nature Center.
A short walk away along Eden Street is the Bar Harbor bicycle Shop where you can rent bikes and tag-a-longs. A few doors down from the bike shop is two cats and Little A's sports bar and pizza.
The town ball fields and YNCA are about a 20 minute walk away - the ballfield is cleared whenever a lifeflight helicopter is needed for the hospital or accident in the Park.
Your also about a ten minute walk from the Hannaford Supermarket and Jordans restaurant - famous for their desserts made from wild Maine Blueberries and large portion sizes.
Many people drive up to the summit to watch the sunrise and the two most popular hiking trails to the summit are the North Ridge Trail and the South Ridge trail. My favorite hike to the summit is by way of the breathtaking gorge Trail, which runs right between Dorr Mountain and Cadillac mountain, where you have towering walls of granite rising high above you. From there I take the Canon Brook trail up the mountain.
Cadillac Mountain was first named Green Mountain and for a number of years the Green Mountain Railroad Company operated a cog train from the shore of Eagle lake to the summit. The train was said to have been very slow and in time the company went out of business, but the railroad spikes they left implanted in the granite along the mountain side took on a new life as the train route soon became a popular hiking trail though the trail is unmarked and not found on most maps.
The mountain side is also home to a really nice waterfall with a crystal clear pool of water at its base. The waterfall also does not appear on maps, but if you visit it right after a good rain it is something to see.
Sand Beach is a beautiful beach but during the summer months can get very crowded, and it is not the only beach available on a hot day. You can also ride the Island Explorer buses for free from the Bar Harbor Village Green to reach beach, simply board the Sand Beach Bus. Compass Harbor in Acadia National Park has two beaches, Lake Wood, in the park, also has a beach, than there is the beach at Sand point just outside Bar Harbor. The most popular beach with the locals is Echo Beach on Echo Lake just before Southwest Harbor, also within the Park. The water here is warm and a large area close to the beach the water level is just right for young children.
They are know far and wide fir their famous pancakes, muffins, and pies made from wild Maine Blueberries. They are also known for their large portion sizes - you will not leave hungry. They are located on the quiet end of cottage Street so if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy a great meal at a price you can afford, check them out.
My favorite times spent in the park are when I am exploring the parks many abandoned trails, such as the Great cave Loop, Anemone Cave, the Bear Den, the Hanging steps, Compass Harbor trail, the Stone Arches of Eagle Lake, and the Great Hill Summit trail - they have been abandoned by the park but a Google search is well worth the time to learn about them. Hiking abandoned trails is like stepping back in time and rediscovering the parks lost gems.