Enjoy an easy ascent to a coastal hilltop that rewards you with panoramic views of Crane Beach and the Essex River estuary.
While most of Stavros Reservation protects more than 50 acres of salt marsh, its most popular feature is Whites Hill, a coastal drumlin offering unobstructed views of Crane Beach, the Crane Wildlife Refuge, and Halibut Point. The reservation’s iconic feature is a three-level tower built by Lamont G. Burnham in the 1880s; the story goes that the structure was used as a pumping tower to supply water to the Burnham farm. It’s also rumored that a sentinel stationed in the tower would look for coal barges belonging to Mr. Burnham rounding Halibut Point. When the signal came, Mr. Burnham would ride a fast horse to Newburyport to put a price on the cargo.
Follow a three-quarter-mile loop trail along a field and up the hillside to a broad, open meadow, where you’ll come upon the fieldstone base of the 50-foot, three-level tower. Venture back down the hill and you’ll trek through a thicket of Devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa), broken only by a small hillside clearing that offers views over the salt marshes to Castle Hill.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of ½ hour.
FREE to all.
Essex, MA 01929
Get directions on Google Maps.
From Rt. 128 Exit 15, take School St. north (becomes Southern Ave.) for 3.1 mi. until it ends at Rt. 133. Turn left and follow for 2 mi. through Essex Center. Immediately after the Cape Ann Golf Course, turn right onto Island Rd. Entrance and roadside parking on right.
Download a trail map before setting out.
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Original acreage a gift of Mary F. Stavros in 1982. Additional land purchased in 1985.
View of Stavros in summer
Marsh view in the fall
This is a relatively short, not-too-steep, and well-maintained trail, with rewarding perspectives of the Essex River Estuary and the Atlantic beyond. Birds of many types were abundant throughout; you will feel that you have traveled far back in time here. A brief drive afterward to the end of Island Rd. is highly recommended; you look back at Whites Hill, getting the full sense of this unique land and seascape.
– William McC, TripAdvisor
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