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Coronavirus Update from The Trustees
Misery Islands
northeast Salem, MA
87 acres
Photo Credit: Social Palates

This property is open during normal hours. The Trustees asks that visitors follow social distancing guidelines for the health and safety of all. Please note: all buildings and inside areas are remain closed on all properties. For more information about our response to COVID-19, please click here.

Please note: While this property is open for visitors, please be aware that because of COVID-19, normal stewardship duties have been delayed, the condition of trails and the overall property may be unfavorable at this time. Also, bathrooms are closed until further notice.

Take your boat to Great Misery and hike past the remains of a former resort on the way to a mixed habitat of forest, small meadows, and rocky shore. Enjoy memorable views of Salem Sound and the North Shore.

What makes Misery Islands a special place?
We think it’s the stunning views you enjoy of the North Shore and Salem Sound from 83-acre Great Misery and 4-acre Little Misery. The ruins of an early-20th-century resort reveal that this offshore retreat was a haven for leisure and recreation a century ago. And the diversity of habitats – groves of aspen, open meadows, rugged and rocky shorelines – adds to the wild beauty of the islands.

More than two miles of trails at Great Misery Island lead you to spectacular overlooks, stony beaches, and grassy fields. You can also reach Little Misery Island from Great Misery Island by wading across a narrow, shallow channel at very low tide. On the beach of Little Misery you can see the remains of the steamship, The City of Rockland, wrecked off the coast of Maine and scuttled here many years ago.

Human history here goes back to the Mosconomet Indians. In the 1620s, shipbuilder Captain Robert Moulton became stranded for three miserable days during a winter storm, and it was from his ordeal that the Islands’ names supposedly arose.

In 1900, a business group set its sights on Great Misery Island, developing the Misery Island Club. It boasted a pier, a club house, a saltwater swimming pool, guest cottages, a tennis court, and a nine-hole golf course. Tournaments and regattas attracted Boston and North Shore socialites, but the club fell on hard times only a year after opening. Eventually individual lots sold and a summer colony of more than 25 cottages took hold. In 1926, however, a devastating brush fire destroyed many homes, and summer families eventually lost interest in the islands.

Before its last three acres were acquired in 1997, several threats to Misery Islands had been fended off, including a 1935 plan for a twelve-million-gallon oil storage facility and a 1988 plan for a secondary sewage treatment plant.

2.5 miles of trails. Moderate hiking.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours upon arrival.

Public restrooms are closed currently due to COVID-19 precaustions.

  • Regulations & Advisories
  • History
  • Conservation & Stewardship
Announcements & Alerts

Please note: Camping is not allowed on the islands for public health reasons. The island is accessible by personal craft only.

The Trustees does not offer any boat excursions to the Misery Islands. However, visitors interested in exploring the island can hop aboard an excursion with Essex Heritage, which operates independent tours seasonally. Visitors may also access the islands by dinghy, canoe, or kayak.

The Hike Trustees Challenge
Take our Hike Trustees challenge and see just how far you can go. Get outside, win prizes.
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