Crane Beach on the Crane Estate
Ipswich, MA
1,234 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Hunting Swimming Fishing Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Horseback Riding Picnicking Quest Mobility-impaired Access Beach Restroom Regional Trail Link

About Crane Beach on the Crane Estate

Get the latest updates on parking, weather, and more via Twitter.

Enjoy the Northeast’s most spectacular beach and follow trails and boardwalks through a landscape of sand dunes and salt marsh.

What makes Crane Beach a special place?
At Crane Beach, you’ll enjoy one of the finest beaches and outdoor recreation destinations on the East Coast. With its clean, inviting water, miles of shoreline, and mesmerizing views, Crane Beach has been a favorite with the ocean-loving public for generations. Whether you intend to take a refreshing plunge, play in the sand, or just soak up the sun, this unparalleled seaside experience is sure to provide lots of fun – and great memories, too.

There’s more to see here than sun and sand. Crane Beach is managed for both recreation and conservation – people and ecology – through careful planning. More than five miles of trails wind through coastal dunes here, which shield inland areas from storm waves and flooding. And, Castle Neck is the site of the North Shore’s largest pitch pine forest.

Crane Beach is also among the world’s most important nesting sites for piping plovers, a threatened bird that was nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th century for its eggs and feathers. Crane Beach has been nationally recognized for its successful shorebird protection program. To protect these threatened shorebirds, we ask that you avoid the fenced nesting areas and the wrack, the line of washed-up organic debris where the birds feed and hide.

5.5 miles of trails traverse dunes and track the beachfront on both the Ipswich Bay and Essex River Estuary sides of the Castle Neck peninsula. Moderate hiking. These trails are part of the Bay Circuit Trail.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, 8am to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 6 hours if also visiting Castle Hill (including Great House or landscape tour) and the Crane Wildlife Refuge. Please note that dogs are welcome at Crane Beach from October 1 through March 30.

In-season: Lifeguards and rangers, bike rack, bathhouses (with toilets and changing area), outside showers, picnic tables, Crane Beach Store (refreshments and merchandise), drinking water fountains (located outside the bathhouses), information kiosk, transportation for mobility-impaired and challenged visitors. Off-season: portable toilets (located outside bathhouses), transportation for mobility-impaired and challenged visitors.

Regulations & Advisories

Read full Rules & Regulations for Crane Beach (PDF).

Horseback Riding Fee Schedule & Application
Learn more >>

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use a boogie board at Crane Beach?
Boogie boards are allowed in the short surf, with the discretion of the lifeguard. Boogie boards can not be used a floatation devices (patrons floating on board). Click here to see regulations for all other floatation devices.

Q: Can I use a mask and snorkel at Crane Beach?
No, visitors using snorkels and masks are unable to hear the commands of lifeguards, thus posing a risk to themselves and others.

Q: Can I use a skim board at Crane Beach?
At the discretion of the lifeguard and in an area away from other people, skim boards are sometimes permitted.

Q: Can I launch a water craft from Crane Beach or the Crane Wildlife Refuge?
Water craft may not be launched from Crane Beach or Crane Wildlife Refuge. This includes canoes, kayaks, and sailboards.

Q: Can I fish at Crane Beach?
Fishing is permitted outside the designated swim areas and away from any and all swimmers.

Q: Can I metal detect at Crane Beach?
No. Metal detecting is prohibited on Crane Beach and anywhere on the Crane Estate.

Hunting Advisory
Authorized bow hunting, only with written permission, is allowed on this reservation for a limited number of hunters, according to MasssWildlife regulations from mid October through December each year, from ½ hour before sunrise all day until ½ hour after sunset, Monday through Saturday. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Signage is posted at the property listing safety precautions, requirements, and rules for the benefit of all visitors. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties

The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.


The Crane Estate
Argilla Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
Telephone: 978.356.4354

Latitude: 42.683
Longitude: -70.766

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Rt. 128 North Exit 20A, take Rt. 1A north for 8 mi. to Ipswich. Turn right onto Rt. 133 East and follow for 1.5 mi. Turn left onto Northgate Rd. and follow for 0.5 mi. Turn right onto Argilla Rd. and follow for 2.5 mi. to entrance and parking (1,300 cars) at end of road.


When to Visit
Year-round, daily, 8am to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 6 hours if also visiting Castle Hill (including Great House or landscape tour) and the Crane Wildlife Refuge.

Click here for Admission Fees
Note: Holiday/weekend admission fees apply for July 3, 4, & 5.

Buy Your Crane Beach Parking Sticker Now >>

Admission Frequently Asked Questions
Admission fees allow The Trustees of Reservations to provide excellent management of the beach, including the services of highly trained lifeguards, emergency medical response units, rangers, and police as well as facilities such as bath-houses and concessions. Admission fees also support natural resource protection programs at the beach and historic preservation efforts at Castle Hill.

Q: Is there a discount on the admission fee to Crane Beach if I come late in the day?
Yes. The admission fee is reduced every day after 4PM.

Q: Does my admission fee to Crane Beach include admission to Castle Hill?
Yes. There is no additional fee to visit the grounds of Castle Hill if you have paid to get into Crane Beach. There is an additional charge to take a tour of Castle Hill. Please note that the Great House at Castle Hill is frequently rented on weekends for private weddings, and visitors are not permitted in the grounds immediately surrounding the Great House during these times.

Q: Does my admission fee at Castle Hill include admission to Crane Beach?
No, but the Castle Hill admission fee paid may be applied to the admission fee to Crane Beach, with the visitor paying the difference.

Q: Can I leave Crane Beach and come back again on the same day?
Yes. As long as you can produce a ticket that was purchased the same day. If there is a line of traffic when you return, you must wait in it.

Q: Can I park at Castle Hill and walk to Crane Beach?
No. Parking at Castle Hill is very limited and thus reserved for visitors interested in visiting Castle Hill.

Q: How are Crane Beach admission fees used?
Admission fees help to pay the annual costs to maintain the beach and facilities, protect public safety, carry out dune and wildlife protection programs, and maintain historic buildings and structures. When you go to Crane Beach, you are directly helping The Trustees of Reservations protect and care for this important landscape and landmark.

Q. Are dogs allowed at Crane Beach?
Yes, dog walking is allowed at Crane Beach from October 1 through March 30.

Property History

In 1910, Richard T. Crane, Jr., purchased 800 acres on and around Castle Hill – the first of many family land acquisitions that eventually formed the 2,100-acre Crane Estate. The showpiece is the 59-room Stuart-style mansion called the Great House on Castle Hill.

Following Mr. Crane’s death in 1945, the family gave 1,000 acres, comprising most of Crane Beach and the dunes of Castle Neck, to The Trustees of Reservations. When Richard’s wife Florence died in 1949, her bequest added another 350 acres, the Great House, and most of Castle Hill. A quarter-century later, her daughter-in-law, Miné S. Crane, added the 680-acre Crane Wildlife Refuge.

The Great House and Castle Hill grounds are open for tours seasonally. To learn more, ask at the information kiosk or at the entrance gate house.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift of Mrs. Richard T. Crane, Jr. and members of the Crane family in 1945.


2018 SummerQuest Camp Registration Now Open
Check out the camp and register today >

Consult the events calendar for details on upcoming events at Crane Beach or call 978.356.4351.

Poetry in Action
On a sunny morning in May, a flock of volunteers came out to Crane Beach and began stenciling words and phrases on stairs, shingles, and posts around the beach and picnic area.

The lines and phrases are part of a collaborative art project between The Trustees of Reservations and Montserrat College of Art in Beverly.

The words, from a poem titled “Align,” are a call to action, urging each of us to think about the global crisis of climate change and recognize that the choices we make every day make a difference – for ourselves, for our children, for the planet.

We hope you’ll visit Crane Beach this summer and find inspiration from this thoughtful graphic and poetic installation by Monsterrat faculty members Colleen Michaels, poet, and Shana Dumont, graphic designer.

To read the entire poem, click here. To download an audio file (wav file) of poet Colleen Michaels reading her poem, click here.

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties

Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:

  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.

View Crane Beach management plan.

Crane Beach is managed for both conservation and recreation – wildlife and people. Of foremost importance is the protection of this natural resource. Crane Beach provides important habitat for numerous rare plants, invertebrates, mammals, birds, shellfish, and finfish.

  • Dune Management Program. Sand dunes are very fragile and do not tolerate high levels of disturbance. Healthy dunes protect wildlife and diverse ecosystems and also provide storm damage protection to inland development. Restoration and protection of dunes at Crane Beach is accomplished through the use of elevated boardwalks, fencing, designated trails, and beach grass planting programs; all help to reduce erosion from wind and ocean waves. Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails.
  • Wildlife Management Program. For many years, least terns and piping plovers have nested on Crane Beach. The piping plover is listed on the federal government's endangered list as a "threatened" species. Crane Beach is one of the most important nesting areas for this species in the world. Since the 1970s, The Trustees have managed an intensive shorebird protection program at Crane Beach to ensure that the feeding and nesting habits of terns, piping plovers, and other threatened shorebirds are not disturbed. You will see fenced nesting areas and are asked not to encroach upon them. You will also notice that organic debris (called wrack) washes up onto Crane Beach and is not removed because shorebirds feed on and seek cover in this debris; removal of debris could be considered a violation of state and federal coastal and endangered species regulations. The Trustees’ Piping Plover Protection Program has been very successful and has received state and national acclaim.
  • Public Health & Safety. Public health and safety is maintained at Crane Beach through regular beach patrols and emergency response and first aid staff on-site. With 7 miles of waterfront and more than 1,000 acres of dunes and upland, staff visibility on the property can be difficult. ATV’s provide an efficient way to enforce regulations, locate lost children, provide public information, and assist with first aid.

Maps and Resources

Every car receives a free introductory pamphlet to Crane Beach. Literature about events at the Crane Estate, other Trustees properties to visit in the region, and membership in The Trustees is available from the bulletin board and the beach office. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.

Private Functions & Photography

Steep Hill Beach (located at the western end of Crane Beach and at the base of Castle Hill) may be rented for corporate outings or weddings.

Planning Your Visit

Community Links
Essex National Heritage Area
Ipswich Online
North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Town of Ipswich

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations


About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.

Submitted by Amy on: August 28, 2016
Last week was my first visit to the beautiful Crane Beach in over fifteen years. Even more gorgeous than I imagined! It, alas, was spoiled by a Ranger with white hair and white moustache who was completely rude. This man needs public service training!

Submitted by Jen on: September 4, 2014
I was so incredibly impressed by the helfulness and kindness of the staff and lifeguards who transported me to and from the beach this summer. Without them I would not have been able to enjoy the serenity of that beautiful beach. Thank you so much for the ride service for mobility challenged people -- you really made my summer!

Submitted by fred on: May 31, 2014
Our thanks to Ranger Jeff for sharing his knowledge of the Crane Estate area today. We have visited Crane Beach for many years but Jeff's enthusiastic explanation of the history of the area, and its flora and fauna, has deepened our appreciation of this truly special place. We hope to meet up with him again next time we are walking the trails.

Submitted by minga` on: September 24, 2011
I've been to several wonderful gatherings, deeper than girl scouts and very spiritual. MY kids have loved paddling around over the years. Can we have a fire on the beach in the evening in october?

Submitted by The Trustees on: June 17, 2011
In reply to Sandy: We have a number of people that ask about the “wrack” line. This is seaweed and other organic matter that comes in on the high tide. Crane is a barrier beach with a delicate ecological balance. We do not clean off the wrack, many other beaches do, because this organic material eventually helps to rebuild the dunes and provides a food source for the birds that make their home here. As for the wastewater treatment plant discs that wash ashore, our ecology staff picks them up as they find them but they are harmless at this point since they have been in the ocean for several months.

Submitted by Sandy on: June 1, 2011
Our family have been members of the Reservation for 5 years and we visited the beach for the first time this year over the Memorial Day weekend. We were disappointed to see the upper third of the beach covered with dried hay and seaweed, plus the occasional waste products discarded from the sewage treatment plants. The beach is an asset to the North Shore and needs to be kept in pristine condition. We have met visitors from Europe, Canada and many other Massachusetts cities on the beach. People come from near and far to enjoy Crane's let's make their day memorable with a beautiful clean beach. Please clean it up!

Submitted by CarlaJean on: August 3, 2010
Of all the amazing Trustees properties, this one is by far my favorite! A long-time resident of Western Mass. (*& member of the T of R!), I make a pilgrimage out Rt.2 every year to visit Crane Beach on my birthday. I am looking forward to a lot of sun and floating on my back in the beautiful water on Sunday, as it will be my last visit for a while. I am moving to Baltimore for grad. school and might not be back for some time! :( I will, however, continue my support of the efforts to preserve and protect this property and the many others serviced by the T of R. Thank you all for this important work!

Submitted by hope on: July 17, 2010
Is there anything you can do about the bitting red horse flies? The beach is beautiful and the water is wonderful. Can trustee members enter the beach from castle hill? Beach overcrowded; good entry point for members at castle hill to the beach when overcrowding occurs.

Submitted by Sam on: June 4, 2010
We used to take the kids to Crane Beach as infants. Last summer we returned with them at the ages of 16 and 14...the first time we've been back in that many years. It was beautiful! Even my oldest daughter opened up to nature and went looking for crabs and snails! We look forward to returning this summer with friends. Our only regret is that we live about 9 hours away so we can only visit once a year!

Submitted by Peggy on: May 21, 2010
We came to visit Ipswich last September. It was pouring rain and we wanted to drive in and see if this beach was somewhere we would consider visiting another time. We were not even going to get out of the car. We did not think this warranted paying the regular fee, since we were not staying (because it was pouring!)

Submitted by Kimmeh on: April 26, 2010
I have been to Crane Beach before, and I have to say that I love the clean sand and ocean water. I also had a question.. I want to plan another trip to Crane Beach, and I was wondering if it is possible for me to bring a grill of my own and have a little barbecue within my group. Thank you!

Submitted by KelleyJane on: August 31, 2009
We want to thank the Trustees just one more time for the leash free zone at the beach. Last winter was so much fun and I met so many new people from town. Looking forward to another great winter on the beach. But can you make a sign to tell the horse folks to keep their horses at their end? Each time the horses come through the dog zone, everyone has to grab their dogs and stop the play. Thanks!

Email Address
(Your email will be kept private)
Enter this word