Program inspires residents and visitors to get out and enjoy the hundreds of incredible places around Essex County!

Interested in paddling the Ipswich River estuary in your kayak, cruising or kayaking the Essex River, or taking a sail on the Schooner FAME of Salem? How about climbing to the top of Beverly’s Hospital Point Lighthouse or the clock tower of Gloucester’s City Hall? Or would you fancy learning about (and tasting!) local cheese made in Topsfield or wine made in Rowley? How about seeing some of the oldest Tiffany glass windows in the world in Lynn, a tour of the WPA Murals at Marblehead’s Abbott Hall, or a visit to Maudslay State Park for an outdoor sculpture tour or history tour of the estate core? Or maybe you’d like to get outside and get moving on a hike along the Merrimack River in Andover, a walk to the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence, or a Manchester Woodland Walk? No matter what your interests are, you can find something to explore and enjoy during Trails & Sails: Two Weekends of Walks and Water on September 15-17 and 22-24, 2017!

Presented by Essex Heritage, Trails & Sails features more than 150 free events over two weekends. Events celebrate the elaborate variety of historic, cultural, and natural resources in the Essex National Heritage Area: the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, a 500 square mile region just north of Boston, MA. 

Trails & Sails was created by Essex Heritage 16 years ago to highlight the unique character of the Area by connecting people to its special places. “It is our mission to knit together the exceptional places of Essex County – the places that make this area like nowhere else – in a fun way that inspires residents and visitors to make connections between their lives and these places,” explained Annie Harris, Essex Heritage CEO. “Through programs like Trails & Sails we are enhancing tourism, building partnerships, and engaging people of all ages in sustaining the places that make this region so unique.”

This year’s event is expected to attract more than 5,000 participants who can take advantage of a variety of family-friendly activities, walks, guided hikes, paddles, historical tours, lectures, and other activities – happening morning, afternoon, and evening.  Possible itineraries include:

  • Art Lovers:  Join a photo tour of downtown Lynn or a photo “safari” along the beaches and woods in Rockport; experience public art in Gloucester or Salem; view new exhibits at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill or at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem; enjoy a watercolor class at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover or enjoy a day of En Plein Air painting in North Andover; take an outdoor sculpture tour through Maudslay State Park in Newbury; visit with artists and their works in the galleries of the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead; and more.
  • History Buffs: Discover the history of various wars in Essex County at a number of locations – from the Powder House in Newburyport to the Powder House in Marblehead, and Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill; explore architectural history in Beverly, Marblehead, Gloucester, Peabody, or Manchester; dig into history (literally!) at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers; learn about the story behind the dory in Amesbury, or about aviation history at New England’s first airport in Newbury; and more.
  • Outdoor Enthusiasts:  Explore two conservation areas in Manchester; take a walking tour of Lynn Woods or Den Rock Park in Lawrence; go birding in Newbury; learn about the cornucopia of plants that can be eaten or used medicinally in Manchester, Salem, or Saugus; stop in North Andover to hike the new Lake Trail or Leonhard Farm Trail; learn about and enjoy some of our most beautiful state parks by visiting Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, or Halibut Point State Park in Rockport; help clean up the Spicket River in Lawrence; enjoy a guided kayak tour of the Ipswich River, Essex River, or Parker River National Wildlife Refuge; and more.
  • Family Fun: Explore the night sky in Amesbury; go on a family nature exploration through Veasey Park in Groveland; learn about the Gloucester Sea Serpent and make your own “sea monsters” in Gloucester; go on a family-friendly scavenger hunt Georgetown’s Union Cemetery or the Wildness Conservation Area in Manchester; create fun maritime related crafts in Salem; become a citizen scientist in Saugus; and more!

Visit to see the complete listing of events and design a personalized itinerary. All Trails & Sails events are free and most are available on a first-come, first-serve basis with the exception of a few reservations-required events. A limited number of free hard-copy guides will be available after Labor Day (September 4, 2017) at the 13 Essex National Heritage Area Visitor Centers as well as a number of Eastern Bank branches.

Take the Trails & Sails Challenge: EXPLORE MORE!
In celebration of the 16th year of TRAILS & SAILS, Essex Heritage and its partners challenge participants to go to as many TRAILS & SAILS events as possible to be entered to win $150 in gift certificates to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Each time a participant signs-in at a different event, the more likely they are to win.  With events to take place throughout the cities and towns of Essex County, participants can go to one event or many over the two weekends. All events are FREE!


Trails & Sails 2017 is generously sponsored by Eastern Bank and Institution of Savings.