Ten Days, And More Than 150 Things To Do


Program from Essex Heritage’s Annual Trails & Sails inspires residents and visitors to get out and enjoy the hundreds of incredible places that make up the Essex National Heritage Area.

Presented by Essex Heritage, Trails & Sails features more than 150 free events over 10 days, this year held from Friday, September 17 through Sunday, September 26.  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, including Manchester, Essex, Gloucester, Ipswich, Beverly and Salem.

Trails & Sails was created by Essex Heritage 20 years ago to highlight the unique character of the Area by connecting people to its special places.  Essex Heritage is a non-profit organization that takes a community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development.  

“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.

This year’s event participants can take advantage of a variety of family-friendly activities, walks, guided hikes, historical tours, lectures, and other activities – happening morning, afternoon, and evening over 10 days.  There’s an event for everyone:

  • Maritime Fans: Explore the historic Hospital Point Lighthouse in Beverly; set sail on the Schooner Fame in Salem; take a tour around Fort Sewall in Marblehead; learn about the Lightkeepers of Egg Rock in Nahant; walk around historic Essex with a self-guided walking tour; see Gloucester from a new perspective with a climb up the City Hall Clock Tower; and more.
  • Outdoor Enthusiasts:  Hike up Powow Hill in Amesbury; explore the Lynn Woods; take a birding tour in the Upper Little River Watershed in Newburyport; walk around Whittier Birthplace’s Freeman Memorial Trail with a self-guided tour in Haverhill; stop by Ipswich River Watershed Association HQ for their Save The River Day in Ipswich; and more.
  • Art & Culture lovers: Explore outdoor sculptures in Newburyport; be dazzled by the St. Stephens Church’s stained-glass windows in Lynn; watch Blacksmithing demonstrations at the Essex Company Forge in Lawrence or at Saugus Iron Works; take in history, murals, and urban art during the Lynn at Night walking tour; take a tour of medieval artifacts and stunning architecture at Hammond Castle in Gloucester; and more.
  • Fans of Walking Tours: Walking Richard Fay’s Estate in Lynn; Charlotte’s Salem walking tour; Asbury Grove History Tour in Hamilton; West Parish Garden Cemetery Tour in Andover; the Bridges of Maudslay in Newburyport; Lynn Heritage State Park walking tour in Lynn; Crime and Urban Legends of Lawrence; The Port of Ipswich; Rising Tides: Salem and the Sea; and more.
  • Family Fun: Explore the night sky in Amesbury; dig for History at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers; go on an architectural treasure hunt in Salem; fly your kite (or make one and fly it) during Kite Day at Cogswell’s Grant in Essex; take a nature hike and then watch the movie, FernGully at Veasey Park in Groveland; join a fish seining demonstration at Forest River Park in Salem; and more.

All Trails & Sails events are free and most are available on a first-come, first-serve basis except for a few reservations-required events.  Additionally, COVID-19 is still an evolving challenge.  Participants are asked to be mindful of local and state guidelines when participating in events as it may vary by town.  Participants should follow their event host’s lead when it comes to mask and social distancing protocols.

Those interested can explore the online guidebook and make their plan (trailsandsails.org) or pick up a printed guidebook at one of the 13 Visitor Centers in Essex County.

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