August 21, 2013 (Salem, MA) – Interested in tasting wine made in Topsfield? Seeing some of the oldest Tiffany glass windows in the world – in Lynn?  How about visiting where gunpowder was stored during the Civil War in Newburyport, or going rock climbing in Lawrence?  No matter what your interest, you can find something to learn, explore and enjoy at Trails & Sails: Two Weekends of Walks and Water, to be held on September 20-22 and 27 – 29, 2013. Presented by the Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage), Trails & Sails features more than 100 free events over two weekends and celebrates the rich variety of historic, cultural and natural resources in the Essex National Heritage Area.

Encompassing the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, a 500 square mile region just north of Boston, MA, the Essex National Heritage Area was created by an Act of the U.S. Congress in 1996 in recognition of the important role that the county played in American history and the significant heritage resources that still exist in the region.   The Area is currently home to nearly 10,000 structures that are listed on the national register of historic places; 26 national landmarks; 86 museums and historic sites open to the public; 400 farms; 9 state parks; 2 national parks and one national wildlife refuge. 

Trails & Sails was created by Essex Heritage to highlight the Area’s treasures and encourage residents and visitors to engage with these resources in different and more meaningful ways with the goal of engendering a commitment to preserving them.  “It is our mission to knit together the unique resources of the region in a way that helps people make connections between their lives and these sites,” explained Annie Harris, Essex Heritage CEO.  “Through programs like Trails and Sails that encourage exploration, we are not only enhancing tourism, but we are also building partnerships and engaging the public in sustaining the places that make the region so unique.” 

This year’s event is expected to attract 4,000 participants who can take advantage of a variety of walks, guided hikes, paddles, historical tours, lectures and classes based on personal interests.  Possible itineraries include:

  • Art Lovers:  Join a photo expedition of the historic mills in Lawrence, site of the Bread & Roses Strike of 1912; take a walking tour in Gloucester to view houses painted by Edward Hopper; visit St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church to see more than 40 of the oldest, ecclesiastical Tiffany windows in the world; experience “Flight” a large-scale sculpture exhibit with award-winning sculptor Dale Rogers in Essex.
  • Civil War Buffs:  In commemoration of the 150 anniversary of the Civil War, visit sites including the Powder House in Newburyport, the GAR Museum in Lynn which houses more than 1200 civil war photos and documents signed by Abraham Lincoln; and the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Methuen to hear historian Dan Gagnon discuss the lives of the brave men who answered the call to save the Union.
  • Foodies:  Tour Appleton Farms, the oldest continuously operating farm in the country and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the dairy;  go fungus hunting in Gloucester; attend an old fashioned farmer’s market and tractor contest in Rowley; Learn about winemaking in Topsfield.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts:  Feel striped bass brush against your legs while walking the bed of a salt marsh in Ipswich; paddle a canoe on the Shawsheen River in Andover; go bird watching and explore the nesting box program in Groveland; enjoy a guided kayak tour of the Essex River basin. 

All Trails & Sails events are free and most will be held rain or shine.  

Trails & Sails 2013: Two Weekends of Walks & Water is sponsored by Eastern Bank and TD Bank, with additional support from REI.

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