Crane Wildlife Refuge on the Crane Estate

As part of the Crane Wildlife Refuge, Choate Island is the largest of the Refuge’s islands spanning 135 acres of marvelous natural delights and is one of seven such islands in the Essex River Estuary, providing stunning panoramas of marsh, estuary and ocean. Gulls, sanderlings and sandpipers feed along the island’s shore, while Choate Island’s grasslands provide critical habitat for bobolinks and Savannah sparrows. Some of the island’s distinguishing features are the dark spruce forest, planted in the 1930s, which can easily be seen by boat, and attracts Golden Crown Kinglets and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Native Americans established a semipermanent village on Choate Island and gathered shellfish in the estuary. When settlers arrived, Choate Island and Long Island were connected by a causeway, becoming successful farming communities through the 19th century. The Choate House, built around 1730 by the Choate family, is an architectural wonder, and has stayed virtually intact for more than 250 years!


219 County Road Essex, MA 1929

Driving Directions

Access is by private boat, sea kayak or on guided tours. Kayaks/Canoes and other non-motorized watercraft may haul out immediately adjacent to the dock on Long Island. Motorized craft may tie up on the dock, leaving the front space open for maintenance staff. Directions to The Trustees of Reservations Dock at the Crane Estate: From the South: Merge onto Interstate 93 north and then onto Interstate 95 north/Route 128 north via exit 37A toward Peabody. Keep left to take Route 128 north via exit 45 toward Gloucester. Take the exit for School Street, exit 15. Off the ramp head north toward Essex. School Street becomes Southern Avenue. Turn left on Route 133 west, take a right onto Northgate Road and right onto Argilla Road to the Trustees dock.

Notes & Advisories

3.5 miles of gravel roads and mown foot trails lead from the dock to the landmark barn on Long Island, past the 250-year-old Choate House, and up to the Crane burial site at the top of Choate Island. Moderate hiking. For a trail map visit For program information visit


  • Cultural Resources
  • Great Marsh
  • Historic Resources
  • Natural Resources
  • Parks
  • Swimming & Boating
  • Walking & Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing


  • Accessible/ Wheelchair or Stroller Accommodating