Old Town Hill
Newbury, MA
531 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Hunting Dog Walking Fishing Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Quest Canoeing/Kayaking Regional Trail Link

About Old Town Hill

Climb to the top of a 168-foot coastal promontory and from an open field enjoy panoramic views of the Great Marsh and New Hampshire’s Isles of Shoals.

What makes Old Town Hill a special place?
We think it’s the spectacular mix of tidal river, salt marsh, open fields, and woodlands that define the hill and lands to the west. From the 168-foot hilltop, you can see as far as Mount Agamenticus in southern Maine.

A three-mile network of trails and pathways leads you through thriving wetlands and up to landscape-level views of this corridor of protected open space along the Parker River. The Ridge Trail climbs moderately to vistas to the south, east, and north. The River Trail, a short and especially scenic family friendly trail, passes an old pasture along the marsh's edge and then loops into an oak forest along the banks of the Little River. Old Town Hill is a link in the Bay Circuit Trail.

In the upland, second-growth forest and fields support ground-nesting birds and serve as hunting grounds for hawks and owls. Salt meadow grass, cord grass, seaside goldenrod, and sea lavender thrive in the salt marsh. Mud snails, green crabs, and ribbed mussels live in the tidal creeks and provide food for wading birds, such as egrets and great blue herons.

Glacial action from 12,000 years ago helped create the extensive salt marsh. Today, the ebb and flow of the Parker and Little rivers – freshwater streams with sources miles inland that become increasingly tidal as they approach the coast – are critical to keeping the marsh healthy. The tidal flows nourish the salt meadow twice a day. This tide-dependent environment is part of the 25,000-acre “Great Marsh,” New England’s largest, which stretches for more than 20 miles between Gloucester and southern New Hampshire.

Salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and support a great diversity of marine life; act as nurseries for shellfish and finfish; and attract wading birds including egrets, glossy ibis, and herons.

3 miles of trails. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places.

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

Regulations & Advisories

Authorized bow hunting, only with written permission, is allowed on this reservation for a limited number of hunters, according to MasssWildlife regulations from mid October through December each year, from ½ hour before sunrise all day until ½ hour after sunset, Monday through Saturday. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Signage is posted at the property listing safety precautions, requirements, and rules for the benefit of all visitors. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties

The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.


Newman Road
Newbury, MA 01951
Telephone: 978.526.8687
E-mail: dgove@thetrustees.org

Latitude: 42.769
Longitude: -70.857

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Rt. 95 Exit 54, take Rt. 133 East for 4.5 mi. Turn left onto Rt. 1A North and follow for 4.8 mi. Shortly after passing over the Parker River, turn left onto Newman Rd. and follow for 0.5 mi. to parking (10 cars) on left. Look for trail heads along Newman Rd.


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

FREE to all.

Property History

Native Americans called this site "Quascacunquen," meaning waterfall, referring to the falls on the Parker River. In 1634, Newbury's first Meeting House was built on the Lower Green at the base of the 168-foot "Great Hill" and, shortly thereafter, a sentry box was erected on the crest of the hill. At one point, approximately 12,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep grazed the area, many on cleared parts of the Great Hill.

Colonists were clearing and planting at Old Town Hill by the late 1630s – only several years after the Puritans landed at Boston. But indigenous people had seasonal settlements in this area for many centuries before the colonists arrived; some researchers believe there is a Native American burial ground on Old Town Hill, although its location is not known.

The 168-foot elevation of what the settlers called “Great Hill” gave the landscape strategic importance. The settlers cleared a route to the top where they constructed a shelter for sentries, who had commanding views of the surrounding area. For more than three centuries, Old Town Hill has been a landmark for mariners, guiding them along the Massachusetts coastline.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift, with endowment, of Mrs. George A. Bushee in 1952. Additional land given by Mrs. Bushee in 1960 and 1966; Prof. and Mrs. Elliott Perkins in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1978; Mrs. Mary P. Barton and Dr. Storer P. Humphreys in 1978 and 1995 in honor of the Plumer, Humphreys, and Barton families; Susan Page Little in 1995 in memory of Justin, Silas, and Margaret Little; an anonymous donor in 2000, and Robert Barton in 2001.

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties

Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:

  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.


The grasslands that The Trustees maintain on the hill support a large population of bobolinks, a field-nesting bird that is declining across New England as more and more fields are lost to development and returning forest. These open spaces also attract numerous butterflies of several species, which utilize the diversity of flowering plants supported by late-season mowing.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from the bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.

Planning Your Visit

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


About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land