Below are 60 Places in Manchester and Essex you might like to visit in the upcoming year.
Print the 60 Places and check them off as you visit.
An easy walk to and on MECTs boardwalk, with a variety of nature on either side as you walk along, as well as at the beginning and far ends of the boardwalk.
The green fencing you see in the water tricks beavers into not damming up the culvert by lessening the flow intensity right at the culvert. The beginning of Sawmill Brook is actually on the south side of 128, near where Old Essex Road starts at Pleasant St. Here we are near the middle of Sawmill Brook’s course, before it goes by the MAC, back under 128, through Essex County Club, through the middle of town, and out behind the fire department.
To the glory of God and for the benefit of man these woods are preserved forever 1879. Great foresight in the late 1800’s. The area abutting Shingle Place Hill is one of the earlier examples of conservation in the United States. The term “ecology” was coined in 1866. Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872.
Cathedral Pines has multiple 10’+ circumference, 100’+ tall White Pine trees.
Nice view from the bald top, along with a memorial plaque of Charlie Kellogg, a vibrant past MECT president.
Thus Cedar Swamp. Rare compared to red cedars.
Inadvertently created in the 1960’s through removal of gravel and subsequent rising of water from the aquifer below.
A prominent ledge rising at the end of Heron Pond is one of the first sites people notice when exiting the boardwalk.
A tranquil brook runs most months of the year, through glacial moraine debris. Nearby is “The Rock Garden”, on the Prospect Ledge trail between Cedar Swamp and Baby Rock trails. This Rock Garden is another example of debris deposited when thick glacial ice melted approximately 12,000 years ago.
Glacial erratic now marking a spot on the Manchester Essex town line. Markings on the rock indicate that town selectman fulfilled their duty to walk town bounds.
Vertical ledge includes 100+ year Rock Tripe lichen that looks like leafy dark lettuce.
The bench sits on a parcel totaling 30 acres donated to MECT by Richard H. Cobb, of Gardiner, Maine in memory of his wife Dorothy.
A trail of peace and solace in memory of the Hoar family.
It replicates the 1879 brass plaque at Cathedral Pines. “To the Glory of God and the Benefit of Man — These Woods are Preserved Forever”. Al Creighton had it made and installed in the 1990’s.
Large sturdy footbridge on the scenic Homestead Trail.
Tall swamp plants grown on either side as you walk the eastern branch of Warren-Weld trail.
The Essex River starts in two different swamps, south of Rocky Hill Road and west of the Old Road. The two short tributaries come together just before flowing under Andrews St. This is the area of the northwestern-most headwaters.
The Essex River starts in two different swamps, south of Rocky Hill Road and west of the Old Road. The two short tributaries come together just before flowing under Andrews St. This is the area of the southeastern-most headwaters.
On the east side of the Old Road is one of the numerous certified vernal pools on land MECT conserves.
Baby Rock obtained its name from an incident in July of 1877, when a large search party of town citizens found a lost 2 year old boy who was found here after searching overnight.
Look for the tall beaver lodge at the far end of the large pond.
Local Scout troops get permission from MECT to camp here annually.
Legend has it that in the year 1700 one canny bear was raiding Essex farms and was tracked via fresh snow to the mouth of this cave.
The book A Walk About Town states: “In the fourth range of Chebacco wood-lots, number two hundred and eighty-five, as found upon the commoners book, is a spot made memorable by the fact of it containing the “Bishop’s grave.”
A formation of stone stands vertically resembling a pulpit. Here you can imagine yourself preaching to your flock.
Granite Stone M/E Boundary Marker on Old Essex Road. Monster Rock is fun to decorate with other rocks.
Bushwhack to this border marker. The Ancient Line trail roughly follows the original boundary between Ipswich and Manchester, before Essex was carved from Ipswich.
This will require some bushwhacking, but it is an easy to identify northern end to the Old Commoners Wall.
At Ancient Line and Spruce Swamp. Outside this wall, trees for firewood were fair game for all townspeople. Inside the wall were specifically defined and owned woodlots.
The Cheever Commons area has a variety of terrain, cliffs dropping into swamps, and a vernal pool.
A beautiful spot in Anne’s Woods that was formerly the site of a small mill.
This is one heck of a large, double decker beaver dam, forming two pools, a bit of a waterfall, and a view across the swamp.
Coys Line is likely related to nearby Coys Pond, but we do not know much about its origin.
A large triangular stone marker locates the spot where Essex, Hamilton, and Manchester town borders unite.
Have a picnic just off Crooked Lane.
A big chunk of rock, sheared off, typical of Cape Ann granite. How many decades or centuries until it falls?
An easy hike to a small peak that with seasonal views of the ocean. Manchester’s standpipe can be seen from near here offering perspective on your location.
Inconspicuous after 100+ years, but new trees are growing out of a wood pile of made in 1917. The early 1900s had some extradonarily cold winters. Many trees were gathered for heating homes. More easily recognizable as a woodpile in 1963 by George Smith. Described to George Smith by Frederick Smith (unrelated).
This logging bridge was built to keep the butt end of trees from getting stuck in the creek. Trees cut on Wyman Hill were dragged through the ravine to the Walker Estate cartpath.
Rest your legs sitting on the natural seat in the center of Laurel Notch while you contemplate exploring the cave immediately across from you.
Laurel Notch gets its name from the indigenous mountain laurel in this area. Just a bit beyond this to the west/northwest is the Cape Ann Divide. A much smaller version of the Continental Divide, water to the north and west of this flows into the Ipswich Bay, while water at this mountain laurel bush and in Laurel Notch itself flows the other direction to Massachusetts Bay.
Hemlock Glen is an excellent ravine just south of Laurel Notch. The trail goes under the Last of the Great Hemlocks, this one fell around 2012.
In 1962 and 1995 there were large fires in the Western Woods.
This white pine rivals the size of those found in Cathedral Pines.
This is a fun little bridge that rolls under your feet as you walk on it. Owl’s Nest is a fairly long and pleasant trail deep in the Western Woods.
Stand on top of the rock and look out across west beach toward Misery Islands and Marblehead. Easy view in the winter, that is much more limited when leaves are on the trees.
Take a stroll in the area preserved for the public by Clara Bowdoin Winthrop who owned the red farm property and adjoining field.
Built for the war of 1812 and located in an area that would minimize damage if it exploded, this location offers year round views of Manchester Harbor.
An easy to walk to vernal pool with interpretive sign.
Minnie B. Ball Nature Study Area. Minnie was a Manchester school teacher in the later half of the 1900’s.
In 1636, Salem granted 9 people 400 acres in Jeffreys Creek. This stone wall is along that original 400 acre boundary.
Take a rest on the Adele Ervin Longevity Bench across from Black Beach.
Hooper Trask is a fairly challenging loop, that at one point includes a view of the ocean behind a nearby home.
In 1847, a wooden bridge over the tracks was built when Old Long Hill Road was rerouted away from Wolf Trap Creek.
Another heap of rocks, much larger and perhaps more natural than the one on Heap of Rocks Hill.
Imagine the early 1900’s, with a wood planked deck area, people relaxing at tables and chairs, and swimmers jumping off the deck to cool off in summer.
An absolutely lovely crossing of Cat Brook at the border of Manchester and Gloucester with one granite, and another more modern concrete, marker.
Cranberry Pond is far and wide in front of you from the massive outcropping at the northeastern end.
Tri-border of Gloucester, Essex, and Manchester. This takes some bushwhacking, and it isn’t actually at the peak of the hill, but it is fun to explore and imagine the folks over 300 years ago who laid out these borders. It seems they were in the woods and fields a lot, gathering firewood, working the land, cutting ice in the winter, and cooling off in the summer in the shade and ponds.
A colonial or Native American mine. Cape Ann granite naturally splits in orthogonal planes.
Here are some hikes you might like to try
Visit the first 4 Places on our list. A short and simple walk, passing the Founder’s Boardwalk (#1), to the 1879 Plaque (#3) at Cathedral Pines and Shingle Place Hill.
Loop around Places 1 through 8. Walk to the Founder’s Boardwalk. Enjoy the sites as you cross the boardwalk. Poke around at the far end and climb Millstone Hill, exiting the summit either westerly or southerly to the Old Road and then toward the traffic you’ll hear on Rt 128. Come back along the road, taking a detour to see the 1879 Plaque. You’ll be in Cathedral Pines and walking beside Shingle Place Hill.
Enter the green Charlie Trail off Southern Av and proceed up to #12, Cobb Memorial Bench. You can retrace your steps back or first go explore some of the Places on the Prospect Ledge or Baby Rock trails.
Drive to the 3 car parking area on Andrews St (which is a right before you get to the Old Road). For a shorter trip, walk to the Stone Marker (#14) at the Old Road gate off Andrews St. From there you can walk a short back and forth on the Old Road , or you can do any number of loops you like visiting various Places. Alternatively, you could walk a couple mile loop starting at the parking area and going down the orange Homestead Trail. Eventually turn left on the blue Bears Den trail, make your way to the Old Road that connected Manchester and Essex, turn left, and come back to the Andrews St marker and back to your car.
Park at the Warren Weld entrance on Apple St. Do a quick loop stopping at the large beaver pond (#21), and then coming back along the parallel trail. Or go further on the Caesars Lane Trail to Bishops Grave Cartway and decide how you’d like to come back.
Enter Anne’s Woods at the Pine St exit of Rt 128. It’s an easy walk to the scenic Old Mill Dam (#31) . Make a loop around the Dug Hill trail, or first bushwhack to the triangular border marker (#34), before coming back past Coys Line (#33) and the beaver dam (#32).
Park by the gate at the end of Crooked Lane and explore the Western Woods. The picnic table (#35) is a super short walk . A very scenic walk is up the white Laurel Notch Trail for a mile and then turn left on the red Hemlock Glen Trail and come back a mile to your car.
The Western Woods can also be explored entering off Pine St. before you go under the Rt 128 overpass. Go up one of the steep trails along Rt 128 and then head south or west toward Beverly.
A third entrance to the Western Woods is off Highland Av. Follow the trail in there to get to Owl’s Nest.
The Clara Winthrop Nature Preserve off Jersey Lane behind Winthrop Field is a nice trek off the beaten path.
Walk just one or two loops , or walk all four loops to see all 4 of our 60 Places at PHH. Enter at the parking area off Pleasant St, via Scout House property off School St, or the green access trails off Pine St.
The Hooper-Trask Trail is a fairly challenging loop trail with some nice views. Park at the very end of Magnolia Av by the railroad tracks.
Cross up to the 1847 Railroad Bridge that was built for access to Long Hill when the tracks were built, cutting off the original road. From there you have entrance to the entire Long Hill area.
You can also park at Dexter Pond to walk on the MECT Conservation Restriction allowing access to miles of trails on Long Hill. Check out the foundation of an old swim and picnic platform (#56) on Fire Pond. The Cat Brook crossing (#57) of the Gloucester border is a beautiful spot deep in the woods that connect all the way to Mt. Ann and Rt 133 in Gloucester.
And while in Long Hill, don’t miss Cranberry Pond (#58) and consider bushwhacking up to the top of Heap Of Rocks Hill (#59) .
Finally, from Essex or the Monolith’s, explore east of Southern Av ( and ). You’ll find many stone walls, old foundations, pits that were dug, and even evidence of long ago quarrying (#60). Again, these woods stretch all the way to Gloucester. You can take a 7+ mile walk to the Red Rocks climbing before crossing Rt 133, going through Thompson all the way to Essex Bay .