Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse Hike for a FUN Day Outdoors in Maine

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Visiting Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Maine is a lot different than any other lighthouse I have visited. All the other lighthouses were on land – not a mile or so offshore. That’s one of the interesting things about this Maine lighthouse – you walk almost a mile on the breakwater made of granite rocks. I did the Rockland Breakwater hike a couple of times while staying in beautiful Belfast Maine just a short drive north of Rockland.

Let me tell you what I learned on my visits and what you need to know before you go to the Rockland Breakwater.


Rockland Lighthouse Breakwater Hike Maine


My first visit to hike to the Rockland lighthouse the weather did not cooperate. Foggy skies rolled in and blocked the views of Penobscot Bay, and the lighthouse.

I could barely see the lighthouse from shore and as I started to walk the breakwater the fog added a curtain over the seascape.


Rockland Lighthouse Maine

On my first visit the fog obstructed any sign of the trees behind the lighthouse


It was a bit eerie walking alone on the big granite stones that make up the breakwater.

You must watch your step because there are some big gaps between the stones.

The waves wash over the breakwater sometimes. I started to envision giant waves crashing down on me, but they remained gentle.

Luckily, I did not get soaked, not even my feet.


Benches at Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

You can sit down and enjoy the view from the Rockland lighthouse


A week later, on my second visit to Rockland to hike the breakwater I enjoyed a beautiful clear day in early October. Since it was my second time walking the breakwater and visibility was excellent it was more fun than the first visit.

Fall is a great time to visit Maine – check out the Maine fall foliage!


Rockland Maine Breakwater Lighthouse Autumn

Autumn is a beautiful time of year to go to Maine and visit the Breakwater Lighthouse


Rockland Breakwater Hike Info

  • Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip
  • Type of hike: Out and back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dogs allowed: Yes, dogs on leash are allowed

There are no bathrooms and no trash or recycling bins at the lighthouse. Please pack out everything that you bring with you to the lighthouse.

You will be walking on uneven surfaces with gaps between the rocks.


Waves wash over the Rockland Breakwater with the lighthouse in the distance

Your feet could get a little wet if you’re not careful – waves often wash over the breakwater


Breakwater Info

  • Over 4,000 ft (1,200 m) long
  • Completed in 1899
  • Built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • 700,000 tons of locally quarried granite
  • Total cost $700,000
  • Listed on the National List of Historic Places in 2003
  • The underwater base is much wider than the area exposed above water


On a clear day the lighthouse is merely a dot in the distance – just under a mile away


Rockland Breakwater plaque

Rockland Breakwater plaque


Lighthouse Info

  • Constructed in 1902 – after the breakwater was built
  • Lighthouse height is 25 ft (7.6 m) from the base
  • Automated in 1964

The City of Rockland owns the lighthouse, but the Friends of the Rockland Harbor Lights leased the lighthouse and take care of restoration and upkeep – Get more info at


Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse 1902

Constructed in 1902 the lighthouse was fully automated in 1964


Stairs to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

To get to the lighthouse walk up the stairs on the right side


What is the Breakwater and Why is it in Rockland?

In the mid 1800’s several big storms caused damage to the town of Rockland and ships in the harbor.

The breakwater does the job of breaking the waves and reducing damage to the shoreline, boats, and buildings along the coast.


Marine bird Maine

Watch for the marine birds near the breakwater


Construction began in 1881– and completed in late 1899. In 1900 storms rolled in and over the breakwater, so the height was increased another 4 feet in 1901.

At the same time a base for the lighthouse was created out of the same local granite used for the breakwater.

Until the lighthouse was constructed in 1902, a beacon light was added at the end of the breakwater.


Rockland Breakwater dock by Lighthouse

You can walk out on the dock by the lighthouse to get another angle


Getting to Rockland Breakwater

North of Rockland

  • Take Hwy US-1 south of Camden and Rockport.
  • Turn left on Warrenton Street in Rockland
  • Continue onto Waldo Avenue
  • Turn left onto Samoset Road
  • Parking is on the left at the end of Samoset

Portland area (southwest of Rockland)

  • Take Hwy US-1 north to Rockland
  • Turn left on Main Street in Rockland
  • Continue onto Camden Street
  • Turn right on Waldo Avenue
  • Turn right on Samoset Road
  • Parking on the left at the end of Samoset



Tall ship Maine USA

You may see this tall ship sailing around Rockland Maine


What to Wear

You want to wear good hiking shoes, sneakers, or walking shoes with excellent grip. The rocks have uneven surfaces and can be slippery so make sure you have good footwear.

On sunny days bring sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. A windbreaker jacket is also useful because it can get breezy – especially closer to the lighthouse.

Bring a small backpack to pack any extra clothing, sunscreen, and a refillable water bottle.


Sailboat Rockland Maine USA

Sail boating is popular at Penobscot Bay in Maine


Weather at Rockland Breakwater

The weather can change quickly on the coast.

Do NOT walk the breakwater during thunder and lightning storms – people have died from lightning strikes at the breakwater.

And remember that lightning can strike even if the storm is a few miles away. According to a National Geographic article – lightning can strike as far as 5 – 10 miles (8 – 16 km) from the storm.

Fog can make the lighthouse disappear! You can’t see too much when it’s foggy on the coast of Rockland. Although, the first time I walked the breakwater it was foggy and I’m glad I did the hike. It’s just better during clear skies.

Check the weather in Rockland before you drive out to the breakwater. You can also check the webcam to see what the weather looks like at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. The webcam is offline from 8 pm to 5 am EST

Have FUN walking the Rockland Breakwater!

Read more articles to plan your visit to Maine

Things to do in Belfast Maine – Cool Midcoast Maine Attractions

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Fall Foliage Maine Road Trip for Leaf Peeping in New England

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

4 Replies

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  1. Paul says:

    Great post! I’m looking to visit Maine soon so this is great timing and I love lighthouses.

    • Paul, Enjoy your visit to beautiful Maine! Hope you get to drive along the coast and visit a few lighthouses. I loved the Rockland breakwater hike for something different, and wonderful views of the Penobscot Bay. Cheers, Susan

  2. Jo Harmon says:

    I enjoyed this posting. The colors of Autumn where on the way.

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