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).
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. See hours for our Discovery Center >>
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.
481 Western Avenue (Route 127)
Gloucester, MA 01930
Programs & Center: 978.281.8400
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
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.
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 at the parking lot bulletin board but we recommend that you download a copy here. This will give you a chance to look it over before you arrive. 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.
Cape Ann Discovery Center at Ravenswood Park
481 Western Avenue, Gloucester, 978.281.8400
A variety of hands-on activities, a Discovery Desk, and an Investigation Station await! Borrow a Discovery Detective Pack for your outdoors exploration in the Park. Group programs available upon request.
Plan a visit to the Discovery Center >>
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.
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.
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:
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.
Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.
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.