Owl's Head State Park
Owls Head State Park Video
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Owls Head State Park is located at the southern side of the entrance to Rockland Harbor in Owls Head Maine.
Owls Head State Park
Owls Head State Park
Owls Head, ME 04854
Open Every Day
9am to Sunset - Year Round
14 miles from Camden
Owls Head State Park - a popular small state park for photographing, beachcombing, and Maine coastal scenery
Located in Owls Head, Maine, Owls Head State Park is one of the smallest state parks in Maine. Compared to many of its counterparts, it might seem like there is little reason to take a walk through it. However, if you skip Owls Head State Park you will be missing some of the best ocean views and scenic coastal vistas in the area. Some people say that Owls Head got its name because from the water the promontory looks like the head of an owl. Others argue that "owl's head" is the literal English translation of "Medadacut", which was the original Indian name for the location when it was first settled.
The Owls Head State Park’s main attraction is the Owls Head Lighthouse. This white, thirty-foot brick lighthouse stands like a sentinel atop a cliff that is seventy feet high at the entrance of Rockland Harbor in Penobscot Bay. Compared to other lighthouses, it is quite modest in its size but because of its location the lighthouse stands 100 feet above sea level, easily seen by maritime vessels. Green & Foster and Jeremiah Barry designed the lighthouse in 1826, by order of President John Quincy Adam, as a navigational aid to help ships in the safe transportation of lime out of Rockland Harbor at the time. This still working lighthouse was initially installed with Winslow Lewis Lamps and Reflectors. A separate building, the keeper’s house was built in 1854. In 1856, the Owls Head Light was upgraded and installed with a fourth order Fresnel lens, one of the few remaining in use in Maine today. The boathouse and the fog signal building were removed when the lighthouse was automated in 1989 - the keeper’s house, walkways, oil house, and generator building still remains.
Owls Head State Park itself consists mainly of one trail head that splits into two separate paths. One path heads down to the beach, while the other heads up to the lighthouse. If you choose to go down to the beach, you will get access to a small rocky beach with a view of the lighthouse and the cliffs on which it stands. The cliffs look fantastic as their worn rusty color reflects beautifully in the water with pine trees covering the top of the cliffs. The walk down to the beach is very relaxing although it can get a little steep at times.
The trail to the lighthouse leads through a wooded area that is fairly thick and can obscure your view of the surrounding bay while you walk. However, there are certain spots along the way that will grace you with excellent views. Unfortunately, once you reach the lighthouse you will only be able to admire it from a distance. The lighthouse is on property owned by the Coast Guard. The lighthouse itself and the keeper’s house are not open to public viewing and no tours are offered. Both are housed within the Coast Guard complex and the keeper’s house is still in use by Coast Guard personnel.
Visitors can get as far as climbing the wooden stairs up to the lighthouse but most of the other areas are off limits, posted with restricted signs. People are warned that the fog whistle is operational and may sound off in fog conditions every 20 seconds. Visitors may still take good photographs of the lighthouse and its surroundings although the angles will be limited because of the imposing restrictions. By climbing the stairs up to the lighthouse, visitors can enjoy fantastic views of Rockland Harbor and surrounding Penobscot Bay.
This lighthouse not only draws in visitors because of its spectaculor location, but because of the legends surrounding it. In one story a couple were trapped on a schooner that ran aground just south of the lighthouse during a winter storm and were frozen alive in a giant sheet of ice in 1850. The lighthouse keeper, upon discovering them, took them inside so that they could thaw, and they soon made a full recovery. Another story involves a dog that lived in the lighthouse named “Spot”. He always greeted ships as they passed by pulling a rope connected to the fog bell with his teeth. During a fierce blizzard in 1931, a mail boat for Matinicus got lost in the storm and almost ran aground at Owl's Head. Spot was sent out to the fog bell, which was made inoperable by the snow. Unable to operate the bell, Spot started barking. The captain of the vessel heard Spot’s warning just in time and steered clear of the rocks.
In addition to lighthouse gazing, the park is a popular spot for photographing, beachcombing, and watching wildlife. Owls Head State Park also features a small, old cemetery on the park property. Parking spaces are readily available and the grounds are open to the public. There are also public restrooms near the parking lot.
We would like to thank Robert English for granting us permission to use his images of Owls Head Light. You can view more images of Owls Head Light and Maine Lighthouses by visitng Robert's Flickr page.