Lighthouse Bicycle Tour
Lobsters, lakes and lighthouses – Maine offers a profuse collection of all three. Now that spring has finally arrived, more or less, here in Northern New England, dig out that bike, or rent one and tour three wonderful lighthouses and their neighboring attractions, including historic forts and relaxing beaches.
Portland is the largest city in Maine and the Old Port, along the waterfront, is filled with restaurants, saloons, shops and alleys, nooks and crannies that provide an interesting area to walk through. Plus there are the ferries, which go out to various islands in Casco Bay, as well as to Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia.
From the Old Port, you can travel by bike to view some of the Portland area’s beautiful lighthouses, as well as historic sections of Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. The route is mostly flat, on smooth, paved roads.
Begin in the Old Port at the Visitor’s Center, 305 Commercial Street, where you can obtain some maps. Continue south on Commercial Street (the water is on your left) and take a left over the bridge to South Portland. After crossing the bridge, make a left on Cottage Road and continue down to Spring Point Ledge Light. As you travel, look over the water to your left and give a salute to Fort Gorges, on the water in Portland. In this age of transience and a “pick up and move” mentality, old forts are an anomaly. They are nothing if not sturdy and stationary and their chilly stillness suggests that the spirits of the dead really might inhabit them.
At the end of Cottage Road, you will come to Spring Point Ledge Light, a small lighthouse with a nearby maritime history museum. Also in the vicinity are the remains of Fort Preble, a fort dating back to Thomas Jefferson’s administration, and Willard Beach, a swimming beach with bike racks available.
Continue along the water (Shore Road) and you will shortly come to Fort Williams Park, Portland Head Light and the Goddard Mansion. You will find bunkers and fortifications throughout the park, as well as the remains of the Goddard Mansion. This structure was built in 1857 for Colonel John Goddard, who led the 1st Maine during the Civil War. All that remains are the stone ruins.
Portland Head Light, also within the park, was ordered built by George Washington, in 1791 and the original light still remains. There is a museum on site, open June through mid-October.
At the intersection of Shore Road and Route 77, turn left and follow the signs to Cape Elizabeth Light. This very impressive lighthouse is one of the most powerful lights on the East Coast. If you are hungry by this time, check out the Lobster Shack Restaurant, near the lighthouse, for lobster roll, boiled lobster or chowder.
Afterwards, take a walk on one of the walking trails in Two Lights State Park. Heading back, take Route 77 back over the bridge and go right on York Street to return to the Old Port. At the end of York Street, Number 14, stop in at Stone Coast Brewing for a couple of locally brewed beers.
Both Concord Trailways and Vermont Transit go from Boston to Portland. Perhaps by the time you read this, the Downeaster line will have started, offering Amtrak service from Boston to Portland. Check www.riderail.com for updates.