About Rough Meadows

Sunset at Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary © Paul Mozell
© Paul Mozell

Encompassing spectacular coastal woodlands, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and salt pannes, Rough Meadows supports an astonishing diversity of wildlife. The sanctuary, managed in collaboration with the Essex County Greenbelt, is part of the Great Marsh ecosystem. The area has been designated an Important Bird Area and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.


Patmos Road, Rowley, MA 01969
Get directions or contact us >

Hours & Admission

Trails: Open daily, dawn to dusk
Free, donations appreciated






1.7 miles
Details & map>

Keep in mind that insect activity (particularly for mosquitoes) peaks in late summer—be sure to take adequate precautions if you plan to visit in August or September.

Sanctuary Highlights

  • Five well-marked trails through magnificent coastal woodlands to several viewpoints that offer panoramas of the Great Marsh.
  • Habitats that favor many breeding bird species, such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Saltmarsh Sparrows, as well as migratory birds like Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.
  • Granite benches at the end of Professor Chandler’s Long Walk and on the Kestrel Trail, providing wonderful places to sit, contemplate nature, or have a snack.
  • Sawyer’s Island, a one-mile hike from the parking area, has spectacular vistas from every direction and a view of an active Osprey nesting platform.

Property Regulations

All of the land at our wildlife sanctuaries is protected. By conserving these open spaces, Mass Audubon, along with our members and partners, is able to fulfill its mission of protecting the nature of Massachusetts.  

  • No dog walking or horseback riding; please leave all animals and pets at home (service animals welcome
  • No walking off trail  
  • No collecting or picking natural items.  
  • No bike riding or operating motorized vehicles; day passes are available for powered mobility devices   
  • No running, swimming, or camping 
  • No operating drones or other remote-controlled vehicles   
  • No fishing, hunting, trapping, or releasing of animals   
  • No feeding wildlife   
  • No smoking