150+ Free Events  for History Buffs, Art & Culture Lovers, Outdoor Enthusiasts, and More

Program inspires preservation and healthy lifestyles through promotion of unique cultural and natural destinations.

Interested in biking to the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence, or along the rail trail from Topsfield to Danvers? How about searching for geocaches hidden at Tattersall Farm in Haverhill, birding the Little Rive Nature Trail in Newbury, or seeing some of the oldest Tiffany glass windows in the world in Lynn? Or maybe you’d like to explore the night sky in Amesbury, kayak the Essex River, climb the clock tower of Gloucester’s City Hall, or become a citizen scientist at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site? No matter what your passion, you can find something to explore and enjoy during Trails & Sails: Two Weekends of Walks and Water on September 16-18 and 23-25, 2016!

Presented by Essex Heritage, Trails & Sails features more than 150 free events over two weekends and celebrates the variety of historic, cultural and natural places in the Essex National Heritage Area: the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, a 500 square mile region just north of Boston, MA.  2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Congressional Act that established the Essex National Heritage Area as well as the National Park Service Centennial. To celebrate, Essex Heritage has assembled the LARGEST EVER collection of Trails & Sails events to further enhance appreciation of the spectacular places that make this Area like nowhere else.

Trails & Sails was created by Essex Heritage 15 years ago to highlight the unique character of the Area by directly connecting people to its special places. “Our mission is to engage the public in sustaining the exceptional places that make this region so unique” explained Essex Heritage CEO Annie Harris. “Through fun and novel programs like Trails & Sails we inspire folks of all ages to make meaningful connections with these sites.”

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; learn about the art of making Leather in Peabody; experience public art in Gloucester or Salem; view new exhibits at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, or at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem; take an outdoor sculpture tour through Maudslay State Park in Newbury; visit Georgetown for an arts and architecture celebration; visit with artists and their works in the galleries of the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead; and more.
  • History Buffs: Discover Essex County’s Civil War history at various locations – from the Powder House in Newburyport to Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill; explore architectural history in Marblehead, Gloucester, Topsfield, 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 Marblehead; 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; stop in North Andover to explore Harold Parker State Forest; take a tour of the Babson Boulders in Dogtown, Gloucester; help clean up the Spicket River in Lawrence; enjoy a guided kayak tour of the Ipswich River or Essex River; and more. 
  • Family Fun: Build your own terrarium or create fun sailor and maritime related crafts in Salem; explore the night sky in Amesbury; become a citizen scientist in Saugus; hunt for geocaches hidden at Tattersall Farm in Haverhill; take a hop, skip and jump tour of downtown Andover; become a time traveler in Danvers; enjoy an architectural history hunt in Wenham; celebrate Harvest Fest in Hamilton; and more!

Visit TrailsAndSails.org 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 5, 2016) at the 13 Essex National Heritage Area Visitor Centers and at sponsor locations: Eastern Bank; Institution for Savings; and Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank.

Take the Trails & Sails Challenge: FIND YOUR PARK, FIND YOUR STORY
In celebration of the Essex Heritage and the National Park Service anniversaries, Essex Heritage and its partners  challenge participants to “FIND YOUR PARK, FIND YOUR STORY” by going to as many Trails & Sails events as possible to enter 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 2016 is sponsored by Eastern Bank, Institution of Savings, and Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank.