About Coolidge Reservation
Hike past a scenic pond and through a small forest of pine and oak to reach a spectacular seaside lawn offering memorable views of Massachusetts Bay and the North Shore.
What makes Coolidge Reservation a special place?
Perched on the peninsula known as Coolidge Point in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Coolidge Reservation showcases an unusual variety of natural settings in a relatively small area. Within its 66 acres, breathtaking vistas await as you explore rocky outcrops, woodlands, wetlands, a sandy beach, and the open expanse of the Ocean Lawn. This notable collection of diverse habitats harbors an assortment of plant and wildlife species.
Part of historic Coolidge Point, Coolidge Reservation is named for the family who came to own the peninsula. At the tip of the Point is the magnificent Ocean Lawn. At one time the site of the family's “Marble Palace,” a Georgian-style mansion, it is now an open, grassy expanse edged by rocky headlands, with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, Manchester-by-the Sea, the North Shore coastline, and, on a clear day, the distant Boston skyline and Cape Cod.
There’s more to the reservation than the famous Ocean Lawn, though. The highest point on the Reservation, Bungalow Hill, provides a panoramic view of the sea. The hill’s rocky outcrops are evidence that glaciers once covered the area, erratically dropping these boulders when melting at the end of the last Ice Age. Look closely and you can still see the scour marks from the grinding force of the moving glaciers. The surrounding woodland is a characteristic New England mix of oak and pine, wildflowers and ferns – home to an array of birds and other wildlife, including fisher, fox, and coyote.
Beyond the woodland, a trail leads past Clarke Pond. This former salt marsh was cut off from the tide nearly a century ago when its inlet was filled, leaving a predominantly freshwater pond. Saltwater periodically washes in during high tides and storms, bringing crabs and small fish from the ocean. The pond provides habitat for ducks and geese, and heron and shorebirds feed here. Several acres of wetlands surround the pond with cattail, bulrush, and cordgrass standing distinctively among the varied wetland plant life, also marked by colorful displays of trout lilies, jack-in-the-pulpit, and swamp buttercups.
Coolidge Reservation also includes a portion of Magnolia’s Gray Beach (also known as Magnolia Beach) with its sandy shoreline and dunes, complete with colorful beach pea and beach rose.
The Reservation is bordered on the west by Kettle Cove and Black Beach. Also in view are Kettle Island and The Trustees’ Great and Little Misery Islands.
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.
A one-mile trail runs from the parking area to the top of Bungalow Hill, around Clarke Pond to Magnolia Beach, and to the Ocean Lawn. Easy walking, though moderate in places.
When to Visit
Ocean Lawn: year-round, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 8AM to sunset. Gray (Magnolia) Beach: May through September, 8AM to sunset for walking only. No sunbathing allowed. Remainder of the property: year-round, daily, 8AM to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.
Regulations & Advisories
- Dog walking is not permitted on the Ocean Lawn.
- Deer ticks here may carry Lyme disease; take precaution by using bug repellent and wearing long pants.
- Mountain biking is not allowed
Summer Street (Rt. 127)
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944
Get directions on Google Maps.
From Rt. 128 Exit 15, take School St. south for 0.5 mi. Turn left onto Lincoln St. and follow for 0.5 mi. to stop sign at intersection with Rt. 127. Turn left onto Rt. 127 and follow for 2.2 mi. to entrance and parking (10 cars) on right.
When to Visit
Ocean Lawn: year-round, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 8AM to sunset. Gray (Magnolia) Beach: May through September, 8AM to sunset for walking only. Remainder of the property: year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.
FREE to all.
Originally known as Millet’s Neck, Coolidge Point was later named for the prominent family who acquired the property in 1871, when Thomas Jefferson Coolidge purchased it for $12,000. In 1873, he built the first Coolidge residence on the property – a large “summer cottage” of white clapboard.
In 1902, at the direction of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Jr., Charles McKim designed the next residence. Built on the Ocean Lawn and completed in 1904, this “pure example of the best Georgian architecture” was constructed primarily of brick, but was known as the “Marble Palace” for its marble foundation and extensive embellishments. The Marble Palace received many distinguished visitors, including President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and Crown Prince Olav of Norway in 1938. In the 1950s, it was razed by Thomas Jefferson Coolidge III to make room for another house, which was later razed in 1989, leaving the Ocean Lawn as scenic open space.
In 1990 and 1991, the Coolidge family donated much of the property to The Trustees, who established Coolidge Reservation in 1992. Also that year, Bungalow Hill was added to the Reservation, a gift of the Essex County Greenbelt Association, which had acquired the land from the Coolidge family in 1983.
Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift, with endowment, of the Coolidge family in 1990 and 1991. Additional land given by Essex County Greenbelt Association in 1992 and by Dr. Catherine Lastavica in 1999.
Maps and Resources
Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin board in parking areas. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.
Tell Us What You Think
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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.
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