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

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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.

Trails
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.

Facilities
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.

Directions

The Crane Estate
Argilla Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
Telephone: 978.356.4354
E-mail: Castlehill@thetrustees.org

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.

Admission

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.

Programs

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.




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

Safety

About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land