Outdoor Adventure & Leaf Peeping in Essex, MA
With miles of hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails, the tidal Essex River and Great Marsh for boating, birdwatching and fishing, there’s no better place to get outdoors than in Essex, Massachusetts. Scroll down for suggestions and check out all of our Day Tripper Guides to make any day an adventure in Essex!
1. With eight places to explore and miles of trails through wetlands and woodlands with rocky terrain and picturesque coastal trails, Essex, Massachusetts is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, nature walks and birdwatching. Three conservation organizations manage properties here: Greenbelt, Manchester Essex Conservation Trust and The Trustees of Reservations. All are open from dawn to dusk with plenty of free parking. If golf is your game, head to Cape Ann Golf Club (open year round, weather-permitting) where the the par 3, 7th hole–which is only reachable by hitting over the marsh–was recognized in North Shore Golf Magazine’s ”Top hardest holes on the North Shore.“
Photo: Artist Jim Clyde at Paglia Park
2. Essex is a favorite spot for plein air painters. Set up your easel to capture Essex's beautiful farmlands, coastal views of the Essex River and the Great Marsh at the Greenbelt’s Allyn Cox Reservation, Cogswell’s Grant and Paglia Pocket Park (across from Perkins Marine.) David P. Curtis offers classes at the Cox Reservation throughout the year and during the annual Cape Ann Plein Air event in October, you'll find nationally recognized plein air painters from across the country creating masterpieces of local scenes.
3. From May through October, head down river any way you choose: Book a fishing charter to catch stripers and bluefish with the experienced Captains at Agawam Boat & Fishing Charters and Sea Fly Charters. Step aboard Essex River Cruises & Charters for a narrated tour pointing out former Hollywood movie sets, local lore and wildlife. Or launch your own watercraft at Essex Marina, Perkins Marine (with a gas dock) and wind your way through the pristine waters of the Essex River.