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PortWatch

November 1, 2013

Outdoorsing the North Shore: A fall family hike at Agassiz Rock

Big and Little Agassiz provide ideal setting for a fall family hike

EDITOR’S NOTE: Outdoorsing the North Shore is a new column by Amesbury resident Justin Chase. Married with two young children, he is dedicated to exploring family-friendly places to visit in the region. It will appear regularly in this space.

Outdoorsing the North Shore

Justin Chase

In an effort to jump-start the weekend, my wife and I packed up our kids, ages 5 and 7, and headed to Agassiz Rock. The 116-acre conservation area showcases two massive boulders — Big and Little Agassiz.

Owned by The Trustees of Reservations in Manchester-by-the-Sea, the property provides an outstanding destination for casual hikers with perfect picnic spots for all.

Nearly the entire property runs along a sunny, west-southwest-facing hill that’s sheltered from nearby chilly ocean winds. We hiked a short, mile-long loop up and over awesome boulders and through some of the year’s last golden-green hardwoods.

I’m not certain whether it was the perfect kid-sized trail or the crisp fall weather that made it so great, but either way, it was just what we needed. With plenty of opportunity for our boys to explore and pal around, we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together as a family along a trail we will most certainly revisit.

Located off Exit 15 from Route 128, the park offers easy access and free parking. We arrived shortly after lunch and were greeted by a welcoming trailhead blanketed with freshly fallen leaves and a clean, well-marked trail. It rose gradually, littered with smooth rocks and under a thick canopy of yellowing birch and maple. The trail traveled over thoughtfully placed planks and wended around erratics and huge, stately old oaks.

Our boys made games of leaping from rock to rock as we hiked along. As we made our way up to Little Agassiz (the smaller of the two featured boulders), the air smelled of ripe spruce, pine and that wonderfully familiar scent of fallen leaves from days before.

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