Dogtown (Dogtown Common or Dogtown Village)

Originally settled in 1693 because its rocky, inland location offered protection from pirates and enemy natives, this abandoned settlement called Dogtown is one of the Essex National Heritage Area’s hidden gems. Dogtown is known for its charming woods, giant boulders and rock formations left behind when the last glaciers melted. It was formerly called “The Commons” but as legend has it, Dogtown earned its strange name from the dogs that women kept while their husbands were fighting in the American Revolution. Falling into decline as settlers moved towards the harbor, Dogtown has been hauntingly abandoned since 1830. Today Dogtown offers miles of criss-crossing trails and abandoned roads that traverse nearly 3,600 acres. Pathways are dotted with 3 dozen boulders into which unemployed Finnish quarry workers carved inspiring sayings during the Great Depression. This progressive public art work was commissioned by Gloucester philanthropist and founder of Babson College, Roger Babson. Notice that numbered cellar holes of original settlers are also visible, marking former homes. Explore these mysterious and inspiring pathways of the Heritage Area’s forgotten town and see how many “Babson Boulders” you can spot along your path.


Cherry Street Rockport, MA

Driving Directions

From Route 128 in Gloucester, drive to the Grant Circle Rotary. There are two rotaries on Route 128. One is Blackburn Circle, which leads you to Blackburn Industrial Park and a school, which is NOT what you want. The Grant Circle has a view of the marsh and businesses (Friendly’s Restaurant) adjacent to it and the large “Welcome to Gloucester” sign. Watch the signs and take the exit toward Lanesville, Route 127, then take an immediate right onto Poplar Street. Drive a short distance, then turn left onto Cherry Street, up a steep winding hill to a flat area, then continue about 1 mile and watch for signs on the right, and turn right up a hill to the Dogtown Road parking area.

Notes & Advisories

Consider picking up a copy of the Dogtown Common Trail Map available at the Gloucester Office of Tourism located on 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930, (978) 282-4101. Biking, hiking, walking and cross-country skiing.


  • Historic Resources
  • Natural Resources
  • Parks
  • Walking & Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing


  • Dog Friendly
  • Parking Available
  • Self-Guided