What is the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge? The Challenge is a weekend-long event in which the general public is invited to visit ten land-accessible lighthouses in Maryland. Visit one or more of the mandatory lighthouses noted below (in any order) and receive a complimentary souvenir at each. The “challenge”, however for those able, is to visit all ten! Do so, and you will receive a special “completer” souvenir proclaiming that “you’ve seen the lights!”
This year’s Mandatory Challenge Lights (those needed for “event completion”) include: Choptank River Lighthouse Replica, Concord Point, Cove Point, Drum Point, Fort Washington, Hooper Strait, Piney Point, Point Lookout, Seven Foot Knoll and the Lightship Chesapeake.
This year’s Bonus Lights include: Blackistone Replica (by way of a boat ride to St. Clement’s Island); Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, visible offshore at Sandy Point State Park; and Millers Island Lighthouse, visible from the Dock of the Bay Restaurant in Sparrows Point. Visiting any or all of the bonus attractions (including an *add-on bonus cruise, September 14, 15, or 18) does not count toward event “completion”, but will earn participants extra souvenirs.
*See the Challenge webpage for 2017 Add-on cruise details
Please note: With the exception of two of the Bonus Lights, Sandy Point Shoal and Blackistone Replica, and the Add-On Cruise departure site, Chapter volunteers will be on site to greet and assist you.
- Event volunteers and set-up for the Baltimore lights (Seven Foot Knoll and the Lightship Chesapeake) are at the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse location only; therefore, you should plan to visit the lighthouse at Pier V first. The lightship is located within a short walking distance, two piers over, on Pier III.
- At the Sandy Point State Park entrance, state park personnel will be directing you to the viewing area for offshore Bonus Light, Sandy Point. Since Chapter volunteers will not be set up at this location, the Sandy Point Shoal event souvenir will be available at the neighboring stop (across the Bay Bridge, Hooper Strait Lighthouse in St. Michaels).
- The souvenirs for Bonus Light, Blackistone Replica will be available at the lighthouse location on St. Clement’s Island which you will get to by boat from the St. Clement’s Island Museum.
How early can I start? The lighthouses have agreed to open by 8:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Please do not plan to arrive before the 8:00 a.m. start time as it is very likely the lighthouses will not be open, or our volunteers may not have arrived or be set up yet.
The lighthouses will be open until 6:00 p.m. both days.
Please note: There is an “early bird special” that allows you the option of visiting Eastern Shore attractions, Choptank River and Hooper Strait Lighthouses, on Friday, September 15. (Friday hours are 10:00am – 6:00pm to view the lighthouses and collect your souvenirs, but please note: our volunteers will be on hand up until 6:30 at the Hooper Strait location even though the lighthouse is only open till 6:00). This is being done to accommodate those Challengers who will be taking the Friday Bonus Cruise out of Hoopers Island, then wanting to also visit Choptank and Hooper Strait Lighthouses as part of the early bird special.
Where do I start? Since we do not have our volunteers at Blackistone and Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouses and limited volunteers at the Millers Island viewing location, you can certainly visit these lighthouses first, but you will not actually “begin” the Challenge at these locations. You will technically begin the Challenge when you visit one of the mandatory stops along the Challenge route.
Directions (one light to the next) can be downloaded through the Challenge webpage, or requested by phone by those who don’t have internet access (410) 437-0741. Direction sheets will also be available at all mandatory stops along the Challenge route. The directions are listed (north to south) beginning with Concord Point and ending with Fort Washington—or you can follow in reverse order, Fort Washington to Concord Point. Following the route in either of these orders, however, is ONLY a suggestion. You are encouraged to start the Challenge anywhere along the route. We have found in the past, to avoid delays at either of the designated starting points (Concord Point or Fort Washington), people often choose to chart their own courses and plan accordingly. Due to traffic and parking issues in Downtown Baltimore, it is strongly suggested that you visit the inner harbor location (Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse and the Lightship Chesapeake as early in the day as possible. (The earlier, the better).
For your aid in navigating the state of Maryland, you can obtain the latest copy of a Maryland Map at http://www.roads.maryland.gov/Index.aspx?PageId=311 Maps will also be available along the Challenge route.
Where do I collect my “completion” souvenir?
Since the completer souvenir is awarded for visiting all ten mandatory stops, please plan to sign the completion sheet and collect your completion souvenir at your 10th (and hence, last) mandatory stop. See the list of mandatory stops listed above.
How long does it take to do the entire Challenge? The time it takes to complete the Challenge will vary depending on how long you spend at each lighthouse and when and where you stop. Road conditions in this area may be unpredictable. Plan on the entire two days and plan Bonus Light stops accordingly, as time permits. You may even want to consider taking part in the early bird special on Friday in order to have more time to spend at each lighthouse. What we encourage above all else, is that participants drive safely and follow speed limit signs at all times. This is a driving tour to be enjoyed, not a race just to see who finishes the Challenge first.
Is there a rain date? The Challenge will take place rain or shine. There is no rain date. This event takes an extraordinary number of volunteers and it would not be possible to have this many people set aside two weekends for such an event.
How much does it cost? The Chapter does not charge Challengers anything to take part in the event or for the souvenir pieces. HOWEVER, some of the lighthouses do charge fees (depending upon whether you climb the lighthouse, whether there is a park entrance fee, etc.). In most cases these fees have been reduced for Challengers Challenge Weekend to encourage people to visit as many lights as possible. Fees are at the discretion of each lighthouse organization, not the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S.L.H.S. There is also a one way Bay Bridge Toll when crossing from one side of the Bay to the other (west to east). Please note: this fee was recently reduced from $6.00 to $4.00 – or – $2.50 with E-Z Pass. Road tolls are noted in the Driving Directions where they are to occur along the route. Please note as well that there is a separate section delineating all anticipated admissions, climbing fees, etc., along with other important information.
Can I get into each lighthouse? We have arranged entry into each of the mandatory lighthouses and the Blackistone Replica. This does not mean you can climb all of these lights. For liability reasons, you will not be able to climb all of them, although you will be able to enter the base of those not climbable. NOTE: Due to work that may be occurring at any one of the Challenge lighthouses at any time, it is possible that entry may be restricted. If this occurs, it will be noted on the Challenge webpage. To our knowledge at this time, the only lighthouses that will not be climbable during the 2017 Challenge are Fort Washington, Cove Point, and our Bonus offshore lighthouses, Sandy Point Shoal (to be viewed from Sandy Point State Park), Millers Island, to be viewed offshore at the Dock of the Bay Restaurant, and the 2017 Bonus Cruise Lights which will be viewed from the water.
Who benefits from the money raised Challenge Weekend? The organizations that take care of the lights get the money you pay in fees. In some cases the fees are just to cover the cost of opening it to the public. In others, the money is used in preservation efforts or as the organization sees fit. There are some mandatory park fees that do not go to the lighthouses directly. No money raised through fees goes to the Chesapeake Chapter U.S.L.H.S. We encourage you to support the Challenge event by purchasing event souvenirs such as the 2017 Challenge t-shirts and pins, or any other event related memorabilia. The money raised through the sale of these items will help offset some of the costs of the Challenge.
Will there be food available at any of the lighthouses? At this time we are not aware of any location that will have food available, with the exception of the Dock of the Bay Restaurant, in Sparrows Point. (viewing spot for Millers Island Lighthouse). You can show the owner of the Dock of the Bay Restaurant your appreciation for letting us view the lighthouse from his restaurant by having a cold drink or meal while there!
Do you have recommendations for places to stay? Yes, For your convenience, we have a list of hotels/inns that are offering discounted accommodations along the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge route. cheslights.org/discounted-hotel-accommodations/
Will there be gift shops open? Many of the lighthouses do have gift shops or will have items available for purchase. The availability will vary by lighthouse. Please note that not all lighthouse organizations have the ability to take credit cards and only accept cash.
Will there be Chapter merchandise available? The Chapter will have a wide array of Chapter Merchandise (AKA: Loft items) for sale at Calvert Marine Museum and possibly one or two other stops along the Challenge route. Or you can order through our website at cheslights.org/keeper-loft-store.
Will there be Challenge T-shirts and Pins this year? Challenge T-shirts and Pins will be available at select stops along the Challenge route. At this time, it is anticipated that the stops will include Concord Point, Drum Point, Hooper Strait and Piney Point. Any change will be noted on the Challenge webpage as the event draws closer.
Why are you doing this? Part of the mission of the Chapter is to promote appreciation for lighthouses and to educate the public about them. This is one way to get people out to enjoy the lighthouses of Maryland!
Do you have to be a Chapter member to take the Challenge? No. It is open to anyone and everyone! There are many other advantages to becoming a member, though, and Chapter membership forms will be available at each light from our volunteer hosts. Or sign up on our website at cheslights.org/membership.
Do you have to register to take the Challenge? No, you just show up at any mandatory lighthouse and visit as many or as few as you choose. Complimentary event souvenirs will be given at each lighthouse visited. The “challenge” is to visit them all, but certainly not necessary to participate in the event. Any time spent at a Maryland lighthouse is time well spent and we encourage you to visit any number of the lighthouses Challenge Weekend!
Are Chapter dues used to pay for the Challenge? No, money to pay for the Challenge is raised through sponsorships, donations, raffles and the sale of Challenge t-shirts, pins/patches, postcards and other “Challenge” merchandise sold during the event itself.
Are you going to do a Virginia Challenge? There are far fewer land-accessible lighthouses in Virginia, some with more restricted access. These factors would make the coordination of a Virginia event much more difficult, if not impossible at this time. It is with great pride, however, that we did include Alexandria’s Jones Point Lighthouse as a Bonus Light in our 2013 event due to its close proximity to the Maryland lighthouses.
Can you meet the Chesapeake Chapter President? You can look forward to meeting Chesapeake Chapter President, Greg Krawczyk aboard the Lightship Chesapeake where he will be giving tours both Saturday and Sunday!
What are this year’s event souvenirs? …Oh, so glad you asked! 2017 Challenge Participants will be Cruisin’ for Coasters, as the event souvenirs will be drink coasters!! You will receive a complimentary coaster of each lighthouse you visit along the Challenge route. Those participants who visit all ten mandatory stops along the route will receive a special coaster proclaiming that “they’ve seen the lights!”
****VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE BE SURE TO CHECK THE WEBSITE REGULARLY LEADING UP TO THE EVENT FOR ANY LATE BREAKING NEWS AND/OR UPDATES!****