Stavros Reservation

At Stavros Reservation , visitors enjoy an easy ascent to a coastal hilltop that rewards you with panoramic views of Crane Beach and the Essex River estuary. While most of this reservation protects more than 50 acres of salt marsh, its most popular feature is Whites Hill, a coastal drumlin that offers unobstructed views of Crane Beach, the Crane Wildlife Refuge, and Halibut Point. A 3/4-mile loop trail leads you along a field and up the hillside to a broad, open meadow. Here stands the fieldstone base of a 50-foot, three-level tower built by Lamont G. Burnham in the 1880s. As you loop back down the hill, you’ll trek through a thicket of Devil’s walking stick, broken only by a small hillside clearing that offers views over the salt marshes to Castle Hill. Bird Species of Note: The top of Whites Hill is an excellent place to view herons and raptors in the vast salt marsh before you, especially with a spotting scope. Many herons use the Essex marshes for feeding on their way to and from their nesting colonies on offshore islands. The hill also attracts songbirds in migration. A drive down Island Rd. brings one to salt pans where herons and shorebirds can be viewed much more closely. Special Recognition: Massachusetts Important Bird Area; Great Marsh Important Bird Area; Western Hemispheric Shore Bird Reserve Network Regional Site.


1 Island Road Essex, MA 1929

Driving Directions

From Rt. 128 Exit 15, take School St. north (becomes Southern Ave.) for 3.1 miles until it ends at Rt. 133. Turn left and follow 133 through Essex center for 2 miles. Right after Cape Ann golf course, turn right on Island Rd. Park immediately on right at sign. From Ipswich, take Rt. 133 east where it splits from Rt. 1A for about 3 miles to Island Rd. on left.

Notes & Advisories

The walk up the hill is relatively steep but short. The view is worth the walk, and the reason for going there. The trail forms a loop, which offers the chance for a variety of songbirds in migration. Several cars can park along the side of the road. There are no facilities, but picnicking is allowed on the property. Island Rd. is very narrow and dead-ends at a boat landing (not public). Stopping by the salt pans is possible, but there is no parking along the road except at the Stavros Reservation.


  • Great Marsh
  • Natural Resources
  • Parks
  • Walking & Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing


  • Appropriate for all ages