Monday, May 27, 2013

Halibut Pointe State Park: Rockport, MA

Directions: Click here for Google map

Although I have a blog post about Gloucester and Rockport, I didn't mention this park, which really deserves its own entry!  Halibut Pointe State Park is an old granite quarry, once known as Babson Farm and later the Rockport Granite Company.  Made of sheets of 440-million-year-old granite, it is definitely one of the most uniquely beautiful places in New England.  Once you park your car (there is a great big parking lot for just $2), you'll walk down a charming trail groomed with mulch, surrounded by trees, and littered with random 1 ton blocks of granite.  Wait, what?  Yup, it's a neat place!

You'll soon come to a visitor's center, located in a renovated World War II fire control tower that is 60 feet tall.  The tower was built to provide aiming information for the massive coastal defense guns that guarded Boston and Portsmouth harbors.  There are bathrooms here as well as lots of exhibits and information.  The yard in front of the visitor's center has lots of picnic tables and panoramic views of the quarry and ocean that you're about to explore.  

Follow the signs to walk along the quarry, which was active until the Cape Ann granite industry collapsed in 1929.  It's quite a sight to behold and you can see all the way to Ipswich, the Isles of Shoals and Maine!  Continue along the many easy trails and lookouts, which cover 17 acres of conservation land.  You and your dog will love walking from the woods through the catbriar, bayberry, blueberry, arrowwood, and shadbush to the rocky ledges of the crashing ocean.

This park requires all dogs to be leashed and the parking attendant was asking everyone to please pick up after their dog.  There are even bags provided, so it couldn't be easier.  

You can find lots more information about hours, seasons, maps, tours and special programs by clicking here.  

Information source: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Here are the positive features:
  • Parking is abundant with a year-round fee of $2 per day
  • Lots of winding paths along the quarry cliffs and ocean
  • Restrooms are provided at the visitor's center
  • Bags are provided on your way in
  • There are picnic tables and lots of ledges where you can sit and have lunch
  • Even on the busiest days, you can find paths away from the crowds
  • We didn't notice any flies, mosquitoes, ticks, etc.!  There's usually a good enough breeze to help with some of that.
  • There is a bowl and hose for doggie water in the parking lot
  • The Lobster Pool restaurant is nearby, which offers incredible seafood and outdoor dog-friendly seating.  Also check out Nichols Candies on your way home, just off Rt. 128 in Gloucester.
Negative features:
  • Restroom facilities are closed in the winter (check here for seasonal dates)
  • No swimming is allowed in the quarry and the rocky ledges prevent safe access to the ocean
  • No fresh water is available for your pup once you leave the parking lot.  It can get hot out there and your thirsty dog might try drinking puddles of salt water, so be sure to pack a bottle and bowl!

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