Outdoors

Favorite Places in Maine: Rockland Breakwater

Posted July 28, 2010, at 6:11 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:21 p.m.

Don’t own a boat but want to get out on Penobscot Bay? If so, it’s hard to beat a walk on the Rockland Breakwater.

The breakwater, a rock jetty with a relatively flat, 20-foot-wide surface, juts seven-eighths of a mile across the broad mouth of Rockland Harbor, making the large anchorage safe from easterly and northeasterly seas.

Work on the breakwater began in 1890 and concluded in 1899. A temporary beacon was moved as the work progressed. In all, 768,774 tons of stone were used and the project cost $880,093.

The lighthouse, a local icon, was built in 1901. A local group is working to restore it.

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During exceptionally high tides that coincide with high seas, waves often break over the rocks, particularly near the end, so consulting a tide chart is in order on such days to avoid getting wet feet.

The walk is not recommended during very cold spells when the rocks may be icy, or when the wind is howling, making it difficult to walk without leaning. In fact, though you may be tempted to scan the bay and harbor, attention must be paid to your footing; every year or so, someone breaks a leg by stepping between the large granite rocks.

Still, on a fine summer day, it’s a beautiful stroll. In the spring, seal pups have been seen, lying on the outcropping rocks, while mother is off fishing. People, too, fish from the breakwater, and you’ll witness lobster boats working their traps and the Vinalhaven or North Haven ferry chugging past the tip.

From the parking area to the lighthouse and back is a pleasant, level 2-mile walk that is bracing and beautiful.

— Tom Groening, BDN Staff

Getting there

From the north, turn left off Route 1 after passing the Glen Cove vista in Rockport onto Warrenton Street. Follow the road as it winds east then south past the entrance to the Samoset Resort, and turn left onto Samoset Road. Parking is available along the fence that marks the resort boundary. A trail crosses a small beach then leads to the breakwater.

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