Day Tripping: Ravenswood Park

When I visited my mom the other day our family friend wanted to walk the dogs in this wonderful little forest area called Ravenswood Park in Gloucester. It's a reserve with trails through the woods and it's maintained by the Trustees of the Reservation. This is another Cape Ann outing that I find so lovely, energizing, and refreshing. A great spot to commune with nature.

It's really quite beautiful--the trails are a nice variety. I saw people cross country skiing this past weekend (which was cray b/c there were definitely muddy/rocky areas with no snow, but I guess if you have a junker pair of XC skiis...), I saw people walking, lots of dogs were out and about enjoying the day--grabbing sticks, making friends, running around and jumping up on my jeans leaving muddy paw prints :)--photographers, speed walkers, mosey-ers, and even a toddler toddling down the trail. I brought my camera and loved seeing the melting ice and snow, the bare branches of the trees catching the light, my friend Brett was marveling over the many kinds of lichen and moss. It was just a beautiful nature walk with the quiet forest around us. 

I've been coming to Ravenswood since I was a kid and there are trails for everyone--rolling trails, long trails, short trails, gravel trails (aka old Carriage trails), wide main trails, and more narrow bumpy-forest-y trails. There are beautiful vernal ponds to check out during the wet seasons--listen for the animals and bugs that surround them. The web site says there are 10 miles of trails to explore. My mom loves to watch birds and this park has a ton of them. Also, I just realized they have a Quest--basically a treasure hunt--and you can download the PDF and learn more about it here!

History of the property (from the Trustees web site):

Ravenswood contains many relics of Cape Ann history, from Native American hunting mounds and artifacts, to rock walls and cellar holes built by early settlers, to the part Old Salem Road that is now a park trail. Samuel E. Sawyer, a wealthy merchant who summered here, preserved this land. In 1889, Sawyer’s will created Ravenswood Park as a property “laid out handsomely with drive-ways and pleasant rural walks.” (He named the park after the castle in Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor.) After 104 years of dedicated management, they transferred the property to The Trustees of Reservations in 1993.

Mason A. Walton also shaped this place. He built a cabin here in 1884 and studied the area’s flora and fauna. He wrote several books, including “A Hermit’s Wild Friends,” and visitors came to hear him talk about nature. Look for the plaque that marks the spot in the woods where Walton built his cabin.


The park is open year round from sunrise to sunset.
It's shady so come prepared if it isn't warm out
Bring water and bug spray if it is
There's a small on-site parking lot, if it's full, people generally park along the side of the street near the parking lot
Allow for at least two hours to explore
There's a Discovery Center near the parking lot that has fun activities, events, and nature walks (particularly good for the kiddos)


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