Two Lights State Park is a public recreation area located on the eastern side of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The state park occupies land between Little Bay and Pointed Head (the site of Fort Pownall) with views of Casco Bay to the east and Mount Blue to the west across the mouth of the St. George River. It offers camping facilities, trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing, and opportunities for fishing, swimming, and boating. In addition, it has an exhibit featuring scale models showing how the landscape would have appeared to visitors arriving in the 19th century, as well as information about local ecosystems and habitats.
The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps beginning around 1938; its campground opened in June 1940. Its early history is related through letters, journals, and diaries kept by CCC workers who were assigned to the park. These sources reveal that the CCC workers struggled not only with the usual problems of poor weather, shortage of water, and overworked engines but also with the more serious problem of inadequate housing. Despite these difficulties, they enthusiastically embraced their new surroundings, describing the scenery, the wildlife, and the people of the region as “wonderful”. They quickly became integrated into the community, joining the local church, sports teams, and other organizations. One of the most popular activities was beachcombing, which yielded many treasures such as sea shells, arrowheads, pieces of pottery, glass, bone, and metal.
On Labor Day weekend each year, the residents of nearby Portland and Kittery come to Two Lights State Park to party. This event, known as “Hawk Watch,” features music, food, games, arts and crafts, and fireworks. Hawk watching takes place at several locations around the park during the summer season A network of seven miles (11km) of trail allows for multi-use including snowmobiles, horse-drawn vehicles, hikers, cyclists, and skiers. The park’s campground contains 81 campsites divided into tent sites, leantos, and minimally improved areas. Of the 81 campsites, 20 are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while the remainder must be reserved.
The campground opens mid-April and closes Columbus Day weekend. There is a separate equestrian campground containing 21 leantos and 37 drive-up sites. It open Easter weekend and close Columbus day weekend. Boat parking is available along the river from late May until the end of September. Camping fees begin at $20 per night for up to 4 people in a modern unit, or $15 for those under age 18. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. Picnicking is possible on a sunny day anywhere in the park except the beach. The picnic area has charcoal grills, outhouses, and drinking water. The beach is accessible via a short walk from the main road through the campground. Swimming is allowed throughout the entire park. No lifeguard is stationed at the site. The surf at this location can be very dangerous, even when the wind is calm. Because of this, locals avoid the beach completely, preferring to jog or bike there instead. Beach access is possible all year round, although swimming may be hazardous after dark.
The park has four marked hiking trails. All start and finish near the campground. White Mountain Trail is 1.5 miles long. It climbs 2,000 feet above mean sea level to Tumbledown Mountain. At the summit, there is a view of Mount Katahdin to the north and the mountains surrounding Moosehead Lake to the south. Blackberry Slide Trail is .75 miles long. It leads past the swimming pond to the head of the bay where there is a large blackberry thicket. Huckleberry Slide Trail is .25 miles long. It heads inland, climbing through hemlock gorges before reaching the ridge line. Bear Track Trail descends from the ridge line back toward the campground.
Each trail has varying degrees of difficulty. For example, White Mountain Trail has steep sections, whereas, Belly Dancer Trail is fairly flat. Bike Trail is 3/8 mile loop off of Bear Track Trail. It is designed primarily for use by horseback riders, although it is usable by foot traffic in dry conditions. Horse rental is available at the campground. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating take place within the park during winter months. An extensive network of roads and trails makes Two Lights one of the most accessible parks in southern Maine for both novice and expert cyclists. The park has two designated mountain bike routes.
Shoreline Road Trail follows the coastline for 12 miles from the western edge of the park to Jenkins Notch. Baxter Peak Road Trail is 7 miles long. It passes through forest and fields, rising 900 feet above sea level, before ending at Indian Cliff. Rt 6 & 202 pass through the park. Rt 6 goes straight through the middle of the campground, so it is important to note that it is a rural route and not recommended for bicyclists. The park has three designated horseback riding routes. Riders are required to have experience riding outside of the stable environment. Horses are rented at the campground. Visitors can reach speeds of 15mph on paved roads and 10mph on dirt roads. Snowmobiling is permitted in the park provided you have proper registration with any state.
- mountain biking
- horseback riding
- cross-country skiing
Commonly seen wildlife includes:
- red foxes
- harbor seals
- black bears
Birds of prey found in the vicinity include:
- bald eagles
Fishermen might catch:
- striped bass