Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

West Quoddy Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country

Thursday August 22, 2013
Sunset Point RV Park
Lubec, Maine


**I’ve been having quite a bit of trouble with the internet in the early mornings and later evenings here.  Yesterday’s post on the gorgeous hiking on Campobello Island was up and down so if you have not seen it and you’d like to, you can read it here.



It’s a foggy morn in Lubec town.


I’m learning that morning fog is not the exception here, it is the rule.  A clear sky sunny morning is the exception.

Even in the fog, Cecile and her husband are serious birders and point out things to me that I would never see without their spotting scope.   The fog is pretty heavy this morning but there are birds in close on the mud flats at low tide.  All of this is right in my front or side yard.  WOW!


Quoddy Head Light 032


Quoddy Head Light 037  

The eider are fishing and I am able to get a somewhat credible shot of whatever it is this one has caught.



Quoddy Head Light 077



I found these sitting around and thought I’d stick them in here.


They are panorama shots of the campground taken on a previous day.  This is what I see looking straight ahead or to the right from Winnona.


Quoddy Head Light 060


Here are the RVs in sites 3 to 12.  Winnona is second from the right.  There is a shorter  row of RVs right on the water to the far right in this picture.

There are no sites in front of # 3-12 they are just further from the water with the campground road and a large grassy area in front of the sites.

Quoddy Head Light 061




Today we drive over to Quoddy Head State Park to see  the Lighthouse.


This means we turn left out of the campground drive, make the first right and follow the road to the end.   West Quoddy is one of the most photographed light houses in the country probably because of its striped tower.


Quoddy Head Light 087 


I walk around to the side and take this picture which I really like.  Looks like Pippy Longstockings’s stockings doesn’t it??


Quoddy Head Light 093



Inside the visitor center are two very friendly men who ask us to sign their guest book and chat enthusiastically with everyone who comes in.


Quoddy Head Light 120



In the center we learn all about the West Quoddy light. It seems to be pronounced Coddy here in Maine.   In 1808 it became the Eastern most lighthouse in the United States.  Its light and fog canon (that’s right fog CANON-which you can hear in the visitors center) warned mariners of these rocky and fog shrouded waters with dangerous cliffs and ledges.  The current  lighthouse and keeper’s house date from 1857 making them more than 150 years old.  The light was automated in 1988 but still shines through its original Fresnel lens.  Now that’s amazing.  There sure is nothing made anymore that could possibly last that long.

The first keeper was a revolutionary war veteran and its last was a Coast Guard First Class Boatswain’s Mate.

Sadly the lighthouse is only open twice a year on Maine Lighthouse days when all the lighthouses in the state – and there are a lot – are open to the public.  The next one is September 15.  We’ll be gone by then darn it.


Quoddy Head Light 111 

Along with information on the lighthouse itself and its history, there is information on the fishing industry in the area.  I don’t think anyone has seen one of these wooden lobster traps in a long time.  They are all metal now.



Quoddy Head Light 103


I also learn why the tides are so high here.  The Bay of Fundy gets narrower and narrower as it passes down the channel to Lubec.  At Fundy National Park it is 39 feet wide, by the time it reaches the lighthouse at West Quoddy, it has shrunk to only 19 feet wide.  The bay has become narrower and shallower squeezing the water higher.   The tides while we have been here have ranged from 20.4 feet to –1.6 feet.  Not sure how you can have a minus tide height but that’s what the posted tide chart says.

This map of the area shows the four local lighthouses.  We’ve now seen two of them, Mulholland and West Quoddy.   We might get a look at the Lubec Channel Light later today.  We are saving the very interesting East Quoddy Lighthouse on the northern tip of Campobello for next week.



I get great inspiration in the visitor center.

How about this for a costume party???  If you see a horizontal red and white striped nightgown, let me know.   I can go as the West Quoddy Lighthouse. 


Quoddy Head Light 115



Before we leave to hike some of the park trails we have our picture taken.

Quoddy Head Light 119 




There are lots of fun things to see and to learn  in the West Quoddy Lighthouse visitor’s center.  And there are several trails in the park.  One is a short one mile called the Coast Guard Trail and leads to a “view point”.  The others can be chained together to make a nearly 7 mile hike.  I’d like to do that but it is nearly 12:30 when we leave the lighthouse and at our one mile an hour usual hiking pace, it would be nearly dark before we would finish.


Quoddy Head Light 123


So off we go to the Coast Guard Trail.  I’m hoping the “view” is of the lighthouse.

  The first sign at the trail head says it is half a mile to the “high point”.  It’s a loop trail so I guess that means it is half a mile back around.


We walk up the trail you see above and around that bend and just before we enter the woods we are told we’ve already gone 1/10th of that mile.  Really???   The distance to the “high point” is now 4/10th of a mile.

Quoddy Head Light 124


The hike is not nearly as well maintained as those in the International Park on Campobello but it is a beautiful trail and I find all kinds of lovely things all around.   Many of them are the same boggy plants we have seen in both Acadia and on Campobello on our hikes.  There are lots of signs of fall likes these bunchberry berries.


Quoddy Head Light 143 

Quoddy Head Light 144


I particularly love this cluster of Indian Pipe also known as the ghost plant.  It doesn't’ have chlorophyll so it can’t make its own nutrients so it is usually parasitic upon hardwood trees and the fungus with which the tree has a symbiotic relationship. Thus it can grow in dark forest environments.  I’m always surprised to see this bright white little pipe in the darkest of forests.  It turns black when it gets old.


Quoddy Head Light 146


The path cuts through mats of bunchberry.


Quoddy Head Light 149


Now what is this?   If anyone has an idea please let me know.


Quoddy Head Light 156


 Quoddy Head Light 155



Toadstools are all around as are thick coverings of wood sorrel (false shamrock).  I love its heart shaped leaves (shamrock leaves are oval)and I believe all parts of all varieties are edible.  I know the ones at the farm were.


Quoddy Head Light 168


Quoddy Head Light 170


Quoddy Head Light 176



Quoddy Head Light 139



Fall is evident as this fern is turning a beautiful bronze like color.  Nature is so lovely in every stage.

Quoddy Head Light 138



This woods is filled with birch trees whose bark is shredding.  I am not used to seeing birches and find them fascinating and beautiful the way their bark just peels off in sheets.


Quoddy Head Light 179



I stop in my tracks when I see the colors of this tree.  I don’t know anything really about birch trees so I hope this bark has come off naturally and has not been stripped and the tree damaged by someone.


Quoddy Head Light 182


Quoddy Head Light 180




The trail runs high above the waters’ edge.  The views along the way are spectacular. 


Quoddy Head Light 192





Quoddy Head Light 207





Quoddy Head Light 200


Quoddy Head Light 234



I climb down to this rocky point to take the panorama below. 





Quoddy Head Light 209


Here’s David climbing down to join me on  the rocky point from which I turn back to the land and take the panorama below.  The panorama gives a much better feel for what I am experiencing than the individual shots, though beautiful, do.





Quoddy Head Light 208









Quoddy Head Light 201




The clarity of the water is amazing even this far above it.

Quoddy Head Light 224




At one point David spots a nest part way down on these cliffs.  I didn’t see it, do you?   He has mighty sharp vision.


Quoddy Head Light 237


Quoddy Head Light 238


Quoddy Head Light 240




I am overwhelmed by the beauty around me.  I am so lucky to be here having these experiences.





Finally we reach the “high point” where we have expected to find some views.  Take a look.  Absolutely nothing like what we have seen just at the openings and spurs off of the main trail.  Not sure why they spent the money to put this here.  The foliage is obscuring the view as it is not out on a point.   BUT the hike is well worth taking even without the “high point’.


        Quoddy Head Light 242



Big stairs to get up and down to it.  But it still does not seem to me to be any higher than many other spots on the trail.


Quoddy Head Light 245 


On along the trail we find a viewing bench and a warning sign.  They are not kidding about the drop off.


Quoddy Head Light 253


Quoddy Head Light 249


It is a pretty spectacular drop off I’d say.  The water is gorgeous today.


Quoddy Head Light 251



Down from the tower spur we rejoin the trail.  To the left is the one we have come on and to the right is the one back.   The one we have come on has been rough, muddy and not well kept.  The second section from the tower back seems like a gravel road.  I’m wondering if we have done the trail backwards although the sign at the trail head gave no indication that it might actually be the foot.


Quoddy Head Light 255


The gravel road trail has its gems as well.

Quoddy Head Light 257


Quoddy Head Light 262


Quoddy Head Light 267


In a VERY short time we are back at the lighthouse.    Not only do I think the trail is longer than a mile, but I also think the first part to the ‘high point’ from the parking lot down the gravel road is about 1/4 of the distance while the part from the lighthouse to the high point is 3/4 of the trail.   Not the half and half indicated on the map.


One last look at this lovely lighthouse and we are on our way.


Quoddy Head Light 276



Because nothing is more than 3 or 4 miles from anything else in Lubec we decide to check out Mowry Beach in town.  It is a property of the Down East Coastal Conservancy.  In Acadia we first were introduced to the Coastal Conservancies and I am very impressed with the work they do to protect coastal lands, beaches and views.


Mowry Beach is at the end of the road on which the Elementary school is located.


Quoddy Head Light 312


It has a rosa rugosa lined path to the shore and I pick up a few snacks along the way.

Quoddy Head Light 314



The tide is out.  The mud flats are full of wading birds.


Quoddy Head Light 315




Quoddy Head Light 324 


From here we can see Lubec Channel Light in the distance.


Quoddy Head Light 326


Because it sits out in the channel, getting a good shot of it from any where other than a boat will be difficult for my camera.  But I am pretty happy with this one.


Quoddy Head Light 283A


The Lubec Channel Light was built in 1889 for $20,000.  A LOT of money back then.  It is cast iron with a brick lining and was automated in 1939.  The light is 55 feet above sea level.  Originally the light was Fresnel but now it is 6 inch solar powered.   It is known throughout the area affectionately as sparkplug.





Quoddy Head Light 325


We’ve  now seen three of the area’s four lighthouses. 
Everyone seems to love lighthouses and I wonder if it is merely their proximity to the sea or if there is something more.

A beautiful light of another sort brings our day to another lovely close.


Quoddy Head Light 004


  1. It sure is a famous looking lighthouse. The red stripes are so New England; they would look out of place on a Western shore.

    Your hikes continue to inspire me. I would love to visit that area one day.

  2. I love the Pippi Longstocking reference :-). The scenery is spectacular. How do you put together your panoramas?

  3. That is a great place! Great lighthouse pictures.

  4. love the nightgown! spectacular is right. just breathtaking.

    I've been to as many lighthouses as I could both oceans. I suppose the lure to see them, of course, is the beauty but also what they represent... safety as well as isolation and the people who did live there and take care of them ! their history.

    The mermaids and sirens and all manner of surreality ... I always felt a sense of ghosts ... I've been in a couple where I was the only one walking and climbing about ... spoooookay but intriguing ~ especially late evening... one comes to mind and blast almighty if I can remember which one... it was in the East... saw my first cormorant there... jeeeeez they could dive... blast almighty! where was that. I can see it... well? off on a mission.... I believe this was preblog time. blast

  5. Pippy Longstocking -- so true! You think of everything!

  6. I love lighthouses because of their architecture. Every one is so different. Your photos and descriptions are great! Thanks much for your time and work.

  7. West Quoddy sure is pretty!! Some folks call Lubec Channel Lighthouse, Sparkplug Lighthouse since it is small and does look like a sparkplug;o)) We thought the same thing about the platform...WHY??? There was no view at all;o((

  8. Not only am I called by the lure of the sea, but also drawn to the wonder of that Fresnel lens. To think it was designed so long ago, back in the early 1800's, such an engineering fete back then, and how meticulous they had to be in caring for it. All those prisms...just so beautiful.

    I just finished up my own "lighthouse crawl" up the NC Outer Banks. I am enjoying reading about what I have to look forward to on the West coast, hopefully next year!

  9. It's been a long time since I've seen a birch tree. Had them in our yard in PA where I grew up. It does look like someone peeled the bark off that one. You are finding some really great hikes!

  10. Neat lighthouse and nice pictures of it! What a great Halloween costume idea that is :) So many toadstools and types of tree bark - amazing really when you think about it. Great sunset shot. I also like the panorama in the campground - what a view!

  11. Early in my CG career, most of the lighthouses were still manned by Coasties. Quite often we'd have to take supplies and equipment out to the Boatswain Mates that lived there. The ones out in the water must have been pretty boring duty. Those guys did a two weeks on, two weeks off schedule.

    I helped with the automation of many of the lights in and around NY harbor. Sometimes it was really tricky to get my boat in next to the lighthouse. I guess I have a fondness for lighthouses, too.

  12. The ocean always calls my name. I can never get enough of the beauty and serenity it brings. It would seem that money always runs out before the fun. :(

  13. I just love lighthouses too. Seen quite a few, including West Quoddy. It's the best!

  14. I love lighthouses too, and West Quoddy is certainly gorgeous! I don't think I could hike much at 1 mile an hour. I need a little more speed to keep up the energy to get me to the end, although I've had to do only 2 mph on really steep climbs.

  15. Another great day exploring and another great hike with beautiful water views. Thanks for sharing.

  16. So great to see it all again. . .thanks for sharing!

  17. Well even though you are parked close together the view is superb. Love the Pippy lighthouse, and Sparkie is rather cute too. Maybe you'll find some perfect fabric for that costume. I saw Indian Pipe in the deep dark forests in the PNW. They almost glow. Which might happen if you ate any of those funny fungi. I don't know that for sure but would hesitate to find out. You are very good at taking panos. The wood looks pretty new at the High Point.

  18. All that moisture makes for lots of different fungi. Great pictures.

  19. Birch trees - this morning it was raining so we went to the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. Two craftsmen were making a birch bark canoe out of birch bark, white cedar and spruce roots - just as Indians did before aluminum and carbon fiber came along. One of the craftsmen is a native Indian. Back to your question about birch trees - I learned today that if the bark is stripped the right way and in the right season, the tree is not harmed. Anyway, just thought I'd pass that along. Great lighthouse picture by the way.

  20. Great toadstool pictures. But where are the gnomes? I am hoping that now that they have the great viewing platform in place they will find a way to open the view without violating their charge to preserve. Mainers are a creative and resourceful lot, they will find a way. I hope.

  21. So picturesque. I love that striped lighthouse and I will be on the lookout for that outfit for you, Sherry. :-) They weren't kidding about that drop off though. Ouch.


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!