Exploring the North Shore

Hiking is an activity that I have recently discovered due to the nation-wide lockdown. For the past two months, my family and I have explored a new area of Massachusetts each weekend. With the newfound time because of the school closure and quarantine, many have been enjoying the outdoors and the warmer spring weather. Here are a few hike suggestions to try.

Crane Estate: Located in Ipswich, this property is owned by the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservation. The historical Crane mansion is located on a hill with a nearby parking lot, and it has a rolling lawn (the Grand Allée) behind it that extends to a cliff overlooking the ocean. The terraced balcony area on the hill is the location where a scene from the recently released movie Little Women was filmed. Additionally, the Crane Estate has hiking trails that include paths through the marshes and sand dunes. The beach is also a nice place to walk, and at low tide you can see the remains of a boat called the Ada K. Damon, which was the highlight of our walk. 

Boxford Wildlife Sanctuary: This nature preserve in Boxford is adjacent to the Boxford State Forest. An interesting trail to hike is the Bald Hill Reservation Loop, although the two lakes that it once passed between have now merged and cover the path. Because of this development, we had to take a 2-mile detour around the perimeter of the lake. Eventually, we reached the top of Bald Hill, which had a view of the surrounding forest. From the path, hikers can see the numerous beaver lodges and dams that have been constructed, which continue to enlarge the lake.   

Georgetown-Rowley State Forest: Located between the towns of Rowley and Georgetown, this protected land has a variety of trails. The path that we took first circled a lake, where we spotted large birds nesting, and then crossed the highway. On the way back, we discovered that beavers had created a dam using part of an old highway barrier and had completely flooded the trail. Although you might get your feet wet, this path is unique because you get to see a beaver lodge at a distance of only a few feet.

Groton Town Forest: This property is located in Groton, Massachusetts and has 14 miles of hiking trails. The path that we took follows the winding Nashua River and then loops through a forest of tall pine trees and up a few steep hills. It also passes the Groton School’s crew house.

Thompson Street Reservation: This 325-acre nature preserve in Gloucester is the site of an early settlement called Dogtown, which was founded in the mid-1600s. The trail that we took looped through the stone remnants of the town and the surrounding land. The area was formerly used as pasture for animals, but it is now a rocky forest with beech and birch trees. The trail is interspersed with large rocks carved with words or phrases, such as “truth,” “be on time,” or “spiritual power.” These stones are called the Babson Boulders and were chiseled by stone masons in need of work during the Great Depression. 

Kate Simcoe

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