9 Epic Photo Spots On The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

April 21, 2022

There’s nothing quite like getting that perfect shot, is there?

The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway on the North Shore of Massachusetts has so much to offer our photographers out there. The beautiful locations overlooking the ocean, marshlands, and coastal landscapes can take your breath away. So, why not capture the moment?

Continue reading to find a few of our favorite photo spots along the Byway. These spots offer spectacular scenery, perfect for your next photoshoot – selfies approved!

Half Moon Beach (Gloucester)

Our first stop on our photography tour takes us to Half Moon Beach in Gloucester. The beach, located within Stage Fort Park, gets its name from its crescent shape. The rocking shoreline is a fantastic hidden gem for beach lovers and photographers with its charming aesthetic and beautiful oceanside views. 

Rafe’s Chasm Trail (Gloucester)

Rafe’s Chasm Trail is an easy half-mile hike in Gloucester. The trail rewards hikers with a spectacular view and photography spot on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean. Experienced hikers can trek to the actual chasm if they wish to explore further. However, only advanced hikers should take this path as it requires climbing over treacherous terrain.

Hammond Castle Museum (Gloucester)

Photograph of Hammond Castle Museum on the rocky coast with waves

The Hammond Castle Museum is one of the more unique photo spots in Gloucester. The museum itself is a European castle overlooking the Gloucester shoreline. Inside, guests can explore various exhibitions and take part in various educational programs. The castle also provides spectacular views, perfect for photos. In fact, the castle also accepts professional photoshoot bookings.

Halibut Point State Park (Rockport)

Quarry at Halibut Point

Halibut Point State Park sits at the northern tip of Rockport. The park features plenty of fantastic photo spots across its many trails and rocky ledges overlooking the ocean. Additionally, visitors can visit the Babson Farm Quarry or climb the park’s WWII fire-control tower for panoramic views of the park and beyond. On a clear day, Byway travelers can catch a glimpse of the Isle of Shoals all the way to Mount Agamenticus in Maine.

Motif #1 (Rockport)

Motif #1 In Rockport, MA

Motif #1 has inspired artists and photographers for generations, and it’s easy to see why. This little red fishing shack sits at the end of Bradley Wharf in Rockport. It offers a spectacular view that captures everything that makes the coastal North Shore special. For those interested in artistic photography, Motif #1 and the surrounding area is a must-visit.

The Crane Estate (Ipswich)

The Crane Estate In Ipswich MA

The Crane Estate is a jackpot for photography lovers. Here, visitors can find vast landscapes and sweeping coastal views across the over 2100-acre estate. Crane Beach and its 5.5 miles of hiking trails take photo-hunters through dunes, maritime forests, meadows, gardens, and the beachfront. 

Hellcat Boardwalk Trail (Rowley)

Hellcat trail in the Parker River Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA

The Hellcat Boardwalk Trail or Hellcat Interpretive Trail is an easy 1.3-mile loop trail. The trail takes place across a boardwalk creating an accessible path to some of the best Coastal Byway views. Here, visitors can cross through scenic marshlands, dunes, vernal pools, and maritime forests. This is also one of the best spots for those interested in photographing the local coastal wildlife, especially for bird watchers.

Old Town Hill (Newbury)

The Old Town Hill in Newbury contains 531 acres of salt marshlands, woodlands, and sprawling open fields. The property has 3 miles of trails offering their own photogenic spots; the River Trail and the Ridge Trail.

River Trail and Ridge Trail

The River Trail is an easier trail that passes through scenic marshes and an old pasture. The Ridge Trail is slightly more difficult but climbs the 168-ft coastal hill. At the top of this hill, photographers can find panoramic views from the Great Marsh all the way out to the Isle of Shoals in New Hampshire.

Plum Island (Newburyport)

Rock beach - Plum Island, Essex, MA

Throw a rock on Plum Island and you’ll hit a photo spot. All across the 11 mile long island, Coastal Byway travelers can discover beautiful scenic spots, great for snapping that perfect shot. Plum Island Beach, the Great Marsh, North Point, and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge all offer their share of amazing natural photo opportunities. From beachfront to beautiful plant life and coastal wildlife, Plum Island has it all. 

Find Even More Scenic Photo Spots!

These are just a few of the many photo opportunities and scenic views that can be found all across the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. Be sure to keep exploring and be on the lookout for any hidden gems that you may find among the area’s many beaches, hiking trails, and coastal landscapes.