Climb to the top of this 168-ft coastal hill and enjoy panoramic views of the Great Marsh and New Hampshire's Isle of Shoals.
A spectacular mix of tidal rivers, salt marsh, open fields, and woodlands define Old Town Hill—a site Indigenous Peoples called Quascacunquen—and lands to the west. In the upland, second-growth forest and fields support ground-nesting birds and serve as hunting grounds for hawks and owls. 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. Salt meadow grass, cordgrass, seaside goldenrod, and sea lavender thrive in the tidal salt marsh, created through glacial action some 12,000 years ago. And 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—remain critical to keeping the marsh healthy.
As you follow a three-mile network of trails and pathways through thriving wetlands, you’ll ascend to landscape-level views of a corridor of protected open space along the Parker River. The Ridge Trail climbs moderately, affording vistas to the south, east, and north. The River Trail, a short and especially scenic family-friendly route, 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.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.
FREE to all.
Newbury, MA 01951
Get driving 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.
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.
Open to hunting, following state and municipal regulations. Written permission required. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Please follow all safety precautions, requirements and rules for the benefit of all visitors. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties
Dogs are required to be On-Leash April 1 – August 15, and may be Off-Leash (but under control) during the rest of the year. Dog walkers must always avoid highly sensitive salt marsh and grassland habitats.
PHOTOGRAPHY: We ask that photographers or their clients become Supporting Level Members before conducting portrait sessions at this property. Click here for more information, and to request permission for any portrait sessions. The Trustees of Reservations reserves the right, and may give permission to its designated photographers and videographers, or to outside media, to photograph or video visitors and program participants at all its facilities and properties.
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The Trustees State of The Coast report examines the sea level rise and storm surge impacts affecting coastal zone communities in Massachusetts.
With roughly 27,000 acres under management, The Trustees is devoted to protecting ecologically significant environments across our portfolio.
Starting with Old Town Hill, The Trustees has implemented a nature-based remediation project to restore damaged salt marsh and help it to keep pace with sea level rise.
Indigenous Peoples 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.
"Nice trails, well marked, scenic vistas from the top. Lovely trees to hug :-) especially the one at the top of the red trail, surrounded by a circle of large rocks."
– Eurasian73, TripAdvisor
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