Every year for about the past 10 years, Jackie and I always go to Cape Ann, MA. It’s been a tradition of ours, and this is the first year we haven’t gone. Until yesterday. We took the 3.5 hour drive north to spend the day there. While not really hiking, we sure did a lot of walking. It might not be difficult, but there is no need for climbing mountains to see amazing views, just a simple walk and you are there.
We started the morning off in Gloucester. It was a brisk 35 degrees, and we expected it to be cold all day. Luckily, we wore our Icebreaker merino wool base layer. Boy did these shirts do the trick. They kept us surprisingly warm with just a light jacket over them. Anyways, starting in Gloucester, we parked on Stacey Boulevard, and walked along the waterfront, passing the famous Gorton’s fisherman, and heading towards Stage Fort Park. Once you get to the beginning of the park, the pavement stops and it’s dirt and grass the rest of the way. You walk up a little hill, head left, and you are at the spot where the cannons fired on the British. There’s a bench on the rocks, and just beautiful views of the harbor, the ocean, and the town. Heading back the way you came, going left brings you up a staircase made in the rocks, climb up and follow a foot path. Normally, you would have to walk back down to get to the beach, but it was low tide so we made it adventurous and climbed down the rocks to the beach. Cross the beach, up another set of stairs built into the rocks, and follow the footpath along the coastline. There are no marked trails, you basically have to follow the beaten path forged by many others before you. I guess there is no right or wrong way to go, eventually you can make it back into the main park. You can just loop back around after climbing the huge boulders, and walk back to the car. All said and done, it was only two miles, not a bad way to start the morning.
After Stage Fort Park, we drove over to Rockport. Stopped and walked on a beach. I won’t bore you with the details of that, it was just walking. On a beach. We then parked our car on Mt. Pleasant St, walked up Atlantic Ave to the start of the Headlands. There is just a sign that says Public Footpath. It is a narrow paved path until you reach the Headlands, where it opens up to beautiful views of Rockport, Bearskin Neck, and the coastline. There are benches to sit and enjoy the views, and if you walk around eventually you will find the footpaths on the other side that lead out to Old Garden Road, which you will continue to walk down, passing Old Garden Beach, and you will find another footpath, the Old Garden Footpath. Turn left to go down this path, between 2 houses, and the follow the path along the coastline walking behind all the houses, being jealous of all the amazing views these people have. When you reach the end, you come out on Marmion Way. Then you can walk back to your car, either by going back through the footpaths, or walking through the neighborhoods. We always go back through the neighborhoods, we love looking at the houses.
Lastly, after walking through Bearskin Neck, and then driving around for a bit, we headed to Halibut Point State Park. Usually you have to pay to park here, but I guess during the offseason it’s not required. You start walking down a wide path under a canopy of trees, and come out to a clearing ahead with the old granite quarry, and the ocean directly behind it. If you go left, there is the visitor center, where they have maps of the park. We skip this, we’ve done it before. We just like to walk around on our own. You follow footpaths and gravel paved paths to go around the park. We went down a new section where you walk through footpaths cut from the brush that head down to the rocks. After getting down to the rocks, we walked across them along the water to an area we call mini Stonehenge. It is just piles of granite blocks that people build into whatever they want, making cool looking structures. We then walk down to the rocks in this one part and sit for a while. This location means a lot to us because it is where I proposed to Jackie over 8 years ago. After sitting for a few minutes, and arguing about which rock I did it on, we got up, walked to the top of the hill to the lookout, where we looked out to the ocean, and the shorelines of New Hampshire and Maine, walked down, and completed the loop heading back to the car.
There are some hikes we would like to do that we haven’t done in a few years, like Ravenswood and Dogtown, but when you only have a few hours, it’s best to keep it simple and just take in the gorgeous views.