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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. Gray (Magnolia) Beach is open May through September for sunbathing and picnicking for Trustees members. Nonmembers are permitted for walking only. Remainder of the property: year-round, daily, 8AM to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.