Ravenswood Park
Find Your Place
Ravenswood Park Gloucester, MA
600 acres

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).  

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. 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.

Directions

481 Western Avenue (Route 127)
Gloucester, MA 01930
Superintendent: 978.526.8687
Programs & Center: 978.281.8400
E-mail: capeann@ttor.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. See hours for our Discovery Center >>

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 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 >>

Take a look at our upcoming Spring 2014 Cape Ann Happenings >>




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

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 Elisabeth on: February 9, 2014
Oh my gosh you guys were the best!!!! Ramona was so welcoming and wonderful@ the visitors center and helped me get set up with snowshoes and info. The snow shoe rental is great for visitors to the Cape like myself. I had so much fun tromping through the woods with my friends on snowshoes, and then Ramona's 'cocoa cabana' for the apre-ski! I had such a good time I brought my mom (who is 76!) the next day for her first snow shoe ever. She got out there and did it and then took my dad out yesterday for his first snowshoe:)) Thank you so much for your warm welcome and getting my whole family out to enjoy the beauty of Cape Ann under a snow cap.



Submitted by jackie on: November 6, 2013
My experience walking through Ravenswoods was medicine for my soul!



Submitted by EACC on: May 12, 2012
If you’re looking for a fun, local activity for kids, Ravenswood Park has just started something wonderful. They have a specially marked Children’s Trail that is just the right length and difficulty level for preschoolers. Before you set out, Ramona (the program director), hands out scavenger hunt cards and crayons. The children take these on the trail and look for such things as a hollow tree, pine needles, a bug, pine cones, mushrooms, leaves, etc. They stop, examine the item, and circle it on their cards. Ramona does a GREAT job of keeping the children orderly and engaged in the activity. After the trail, everyone goes into the Discovery Center. This wonderful space has tree frogs, a table loaded with interesting forest objects, magnifying glasses, etc – all very hands on! There is a bench along the window with a few sets of binoculars for those who would rather bird-watch. In the larger room are more items of interest, including an awesome stuffed river otter found in Rockport. In the garden area, Ramona helps each child plant a couple of pea seeds in a cup to take home. Total time: approx 1 and ¼ hours. Cost $5 per child. Fabulous, fun learning experience for all!



Submitted by Jenn on: October 18, 2011
Love the benches in front of the visitor center, and LOVE the new children's trail! My two year old did it with no trouble. It is wonderful to be able to get the little guys right into the woods before they get tired and grumpy. Thank you!!!



Submitted by cofeeteaorme on: October 3, 2010
Ravenswood is the best place on earth. Im a Gloucester resident who moved 2 Vt for 3 yrs and couldn't wait 2 come back here by the sea. The trails are roomy not some skinny path. Its just beautiful for a walk, run, or to get out in the fresh air either alone or w/ a friend. Its really true, the best things in life are free. Thank you Samuel E. sawyer. I'll do my best 2 not be a litterbug.



Submitted by Laurie Swope on: August 16, 2010
Before a recent family hike with our two and five-year-old boys at Ravenswood Park, we visted the education center. It was just what our kids needed to get excited about a hike. The director Ramona's enthusiasm was contagious. She showed the boys photos of animals and plants to look for. She lent them compasses and magnifying glasses. The positive environment of the education center and Ramona's energy turned what may have seemed like a trudge in the woods into a wonder filled nature walk. A base camp like this one is invaluable to kids as we introduce them to the natural world. Laurie Swope



Submitted by Matt Veiga on: August 8, 2010
Being a long time user of the area state parks and reservations as runner and all around outdoors enthusiest it was only a matter of time before I came to Ravens Wood. I am happy I did and plan to make it a regular stop. Being a student studying to enter a career in health care I feel parks like ravens wood are a key to great health. We need more people to use these amazing natural resources not only for the educational experience they supply but also for the health benefits they can supply. It is essential that we encourage others to go out and use these resources and see the true beauty of the north shore. Get out there hike, bike, run and see for yourself the positive effect they have on the mind and body.



Submitted by chels on: July 26, 2010
the new education center is a great new way to let my children explore all nature has to offer i love bringing my children to the well maintained trails and now i have even more reasons to come and enjoy ravenswood the only improvment i see so far would be to include more live animals or plants that we may see on our walk through the trails. "the window to the wild" is an amazing feature that i would include in all future activity sites!!! thanks you again for an amazing adventure



Submitted by Paul on: July 24, 2010
What a wonderful Saturday afternoon in the woods! A great walk in the woods learning about the Hermit of Ravenswood and the little creatures he watched for so long. The community center is great! Our little girls loved the exhibits, the "investigation station", and the reading loft. This is definitely a worthwhile effort by the Trustees. Ramona and Fred were wonderful hosts! Thanks, The Judge Family



Submitted by Loretta Peres on: November 21, 2009
I was surprised to see a community walk in center at the Ravenswood site. It was an absolute wonderful delight!!! To be able to pic up information and speak to a real person that knows the area was a plus!!!! I hope this will continue in the future as I plan to stop by more often and attend programs with family and friends. I hope to become a member soon! Thank you, Loretta Peres Gloucester Resident



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Announcements & Alerts

Notice: Trails may be especially icy or muddy during the winter to spring transition. Use caution.

Take a look at our upcoming Spring 2014 Cape Ann Happenings >>

Visit our Discovery Center!

Quest Detective

Upcoming Things To Do



Other Trustees Properties You Might Like:

Coolidge Reservation
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA

Agassiz Rock
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA

Old Town Hill
Newbury, MA


Ravenswood Park in the News

Winter Adventures Await
Jan 1 – Hibu