Ravenswood Park
Gloucester, MA
600 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Mountain Biking Dog Walking Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Quest Public Transportation Mobility-impaired Access

About Ravenswood Park

Explore a shrouded landscape of hemlock groves, a magnolia swamp, and other trees species where you’ll find remnants of Colonial habitation.

What makes Ravenswood Park a special place?
Ravenswood Park offers 600 acres for solitude and quiet contemplation of nature. Whether you prefer to surround yourself with snow-covered hemlocks, experience spring emerging in a burst of color and aroma, or escape the summer’s heat – you’ll find a refuge here. The park is a testament to one man’s conservationist philosophy, and to all those who have cared for this special place.

With 10 miles of carriage paths and trails that meander through the park, you can find plenty of room to picnic, bird watch, walk, cross-country ski, and simply appreciate the outdoors. Children love the Ledge Hill Trail – a 2-mile round-trip walk among magical-looking, fern-covered boulders. You don’t want to miss trekking to the overlook to Gloucester Harbor or traversing the boardwalk through the Great Magnolia Swamp, home to native sweetbay magnolias (Magnolia virginiana).

Reservation is located along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, part of the congressionally designated Essex National Heritage Area. The Area’s extensive historic, cultural and natural resources tell the story of the region’s role in the nation’s early settlement, maritime trade and industrialization.

Trails
10 miles of trails and former carriage roads. Moderate hiking. Carriage roads are covered with dense crushed stone and are generally wheelchair accessible.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Dogs must be leashed in parking area. Please dispose of their waste responsibly by using the waste barrel.

  • Mountain biking permitted only on designated trails. All trails are closed to mountain biking March 1 to April 30, during muddy season.

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

481 Western Avenue (Route 127)
Gloucester, MA 01930
Superintendent: 978.526.8687
Programs & Center: 978.281.8400
E-mail: capeann@thetrustees.org

Latitude: 42.5915
Longitude: -70.6985

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Rt. 128 Exit 14, take Rt. 133 East toward Gloucester for 3 mi. until it ends at Rt. 127. Turn right and follow for 2 mi. to entrance

Admission

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours.

Admission
FREE to all.

Property History

Ravenswood contains many relics of Cape Ann history, from Native American hunting mounds and artifacts, to rock walls and cellar holes built by early settlers, to the part Old Salem Road that is now a park trail. Samuel E. Sawyer, a wealthy merchant who summered here, preserved this land. In 1889, Sawyer’s will created Ravenswood Park as a property “laid out handsomely with drive-ways and pleasant rural walks.” (He named the park after the castle in Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor.) After 104 years of dedicated management, they transferred the property to The Trustees of Reservations in 1993.

Mason A. Walton also shaped this place. He built a cabin here in 1884 and studied the area’s flora and fauna. He wrote several books, including “A Hermit’s Wild Friends,” and visitors came to hear him talk about nature. Look for the plaque that marks the spot in the woods where Walton built his cabin.

Property Acquisition History
Gift, with endowment, of The Trustees of Ravenswood Park in 1993. Additional endowment given through bequest of Edward Hyde Cox in 1998, and gifts of Dorothy Addams Brown.

Archival Collections
Archival material related to Ravenswood Park is available to researchers at the Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts.

Ravenswood ParkThe Trustees of Ravenswood Park Archive
(3.0 linear feet)
Records of the trustees who managed Ravenswood Park from 1895 to 1993, when the park was given to The Trustees of Reservations.


The Archives & Research Center welcomes donations of documents, manuscripts, records, photographs, maps and memorabilia that pertain to a particular property. Please contact us at 781.784.8200 or arc@ttor.org.

Programs

Quests
The fastest-growing family recreational adventure this side of the Atlantic comes to Ravenswood Park! The Hermit's Haven Quest is a treasure hunt through the trails following the clues reveals the Hermit's tales. The Quest brochure is available for you to download a copy here. FREE to all.; Allow two hours.; Recommended for families (ages 8 and up). To learn more about the history of questing at Cape Ann, click here.

Conservation and Stewardship

Forces of nature formed Ravenswood’s landscape. Thousands of years ago, ice chunks from melting glaciers created kettle ponds, bogs, and swamps. Glaciers also deposited rocks and soils over the Cape Ann granite, leaving boulders at irregular intervals and forming a long, low hill. Contemporary natural disasters have made their mark, including the 1938 hurricane, a 1947 forest fire, and the 1976 hemlock looper (a gypsy moth relative) infestation. Today, The Trustees are working to protect the park’s hemlock trees from the wooly adelgid, an invasive insect. Ravenswood is the northernmost home of the sweetbay magnolia tree, which is endangered in Massachusetts. Signs of wildlife abound in the woodlands and wetlands here, from pine vole tracks in the snow to the graceful circles of a red-tailed hawk overhead.

Vernal Ponds
These ephemeral pools appear when depressions fill with rising groundwater, rain, and snow melt. Because vernal ponds typically dry out for part of the year, fish do not inhabit them. During the spring, these ponds provide crucial breeding habitat for a variety of amphibians, such as wood frogs, spring peepers, and spotted salamanders, as well as fairy shrimp.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin boards in parking areas. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.



Planning Your Visit

Travel Links
Cape Ann.com
Cape Ann Transportation Authority
Essex National Heritage Area
Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce
North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea

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