Get away from it all at one of 9 stunning wildlife sanctuaries on the North Shore.
Nature Centers & Trails
Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield
Whether exploring by foot or paddle, you'll marvel at the diversity of wildlife inhabiting this sanctuary's forests, meadows, wetlands, and namesake river. Explore Ipswich River
Joppa Flats Education Center, Newburyport
Celebrate this region's wildlife-rich habitats through guided tours, marine touch tanks, art exhibits, drop-in programs, and interpretive displays. Explore Joppa Flats
Cedar Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Wenham
Situated within a mosaic of protected conservation lands, Cedar Pond hosts a mix of upland forest, wooded swamp, marsh, field, bog, and shrubland. Explore Cedar Pond
Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary, Gloucester
Located on a peninsula near the historic Eastern Point Lighthouse, the small sanctuary is a hot spot for butterflies and seabirds at particular times of the year. Explore Eastern Point
Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary, Wenham
Enjoy a short walk on a trail through mature mixed forest with views over a wet meadow. The building is home to the Ipswich River Nature Preschool and serves as a base for several of Mass Audubon’s staff. Explore Endicott
Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Marblehead
In the center of a peninsula that extends into Massachusetts Bay, Marblehead Neck's swamp, thickets, and woodlands are a haven for migratory birds, especially warblers. Explore Marblehead Neck
Nahant Thicket Wildlife Sanctuary, Nahant
Explore this inviting spot for hundreds of migrating songbirds such as warblers, vireos, and thrushes along a short trail that winds through a tiny patch of red maple swamp. Explore Nahant Thicket
Osgood Hill (Partner Property), North Andover
Made up of forest, fields, wetland, lake, namesake hill, and the historic Stevens Estate, these 200-plus acres are owned by the Town of North Andover and managed in partnership by Mass Audubon and Fireside Catering. Explore Osgood Hill
Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, Rowley
Encompassing spectacular coastal woodlands, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and salt pannes, Rough Meadows supports an astonishing diversity of wildlife. Explore Rough Meadows
Straitsmouth Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Rockport
Encompassing most of a rocky island 500 feet from the mainland in Rockport, this wildlife sanctuary is adjacent to the town-owned historic lighthouse and lies within a designated Important Bird Area. Accessible by kayak. Explore Staitsmouth Island
Not Ready for Visitors
Annisquam Salt Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Gloucester
The exact location of Annisquam Salt Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary—sometimes referred to as Cut Creek Wildlife Sanctuary—is ambiguous since it is situated within a large complex of salt marshes to the north or west of Rust Island (located on the west side of the Annisquam River) and immediately north of where Route 128 crosses the Annisquam River.
Conservation Features: The original 1808 deed describes this property as "a piece of salt marsh land." The property bounds described in this deed run along the creek and several ditches without reference to compass directions. Over the more than two centuries since the deed was written, it is likely that the course of the creek has changed somewhat, and the alignment of the ditches may have been altered, making precisely relocating the parcel very difficult. The salt marshes in this area are rich habitat for a variety of birds, mammals, and invertebrates.
Fish Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, Boxford
Fish Brook Wildlife Sanctuary—also known as the Hardy Property—is a small property surrounded by conservation land, including Boxford State Forest. It is located west of Middleton Road in Boxford, in or near the eastern portion of an area called Longmeadow Swamp, situated on the border of two tributaries to the Ipswich River. Conservation land owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boxford State Forest and Boxford Wildlife Sanctuary) and Essex County Greenbelt Association surround the sanctuary.
Conservation Features: Red maple and eastern white pine dominate Longmeadow Swamp. Sweet pepperbush, spicebush, and highbush blueberry are common in the dense woody understory. A few glossy buckthorn shrubs are present in some areas, but the area is mostly free of invasive plant species, even in areas disturbed by beaver activity. Herbaceous vegetation is sparse and includes skunk cabbage, cinnamon fern, and scattered grasses and sedges.
House Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Manchester-by-the-Sea
This rocky island lies approximately 2,000 feet south of Gales Point in Manchester-by-the-Sea and is situated within the Essex County Coastal Bird Islands Important Bird Area.
Conservation Features: Approximately one-half the island is covered with dense vegetation. Beyond the rocky shoreline is a dense band of deciduous shrubs and vines (including poison ivy), within which lies a forest comprised of deciduous trees. This wildlife sanctuary is part of a cluster of islands that hosts nesting colonial waterbirds, such as herons, egrets, ibises, and other species. There are currently no colonies using this island, but colonies are roosting on nearby Kettle Island and other islands in the vicinity. Public access to House Island is limited to scheduled Mass Audubon programs only.
Kettle Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Manchester-by-the-Sea
A designated Important Bird Area, the island hosts a large colony of nesting waterbirds. You can view wildlife from small boats and kayaks, but landing on the island is prohibited.
Conservation Features: Part of the Essex County Coastal Bird Islands Important Bird Area, the island hosts a large colony of nesting colonial waterbirds in spring and summer, including snowy egret, great egret, glossy ibis, little blue heron, and black-crowned night heron.
Norman's Woe Wildlife Sanctuary, Gloucester
Three non-contiguous parcels are situated in a residential area off Hesperus Avenue. A private residence and driveway is on one of these sites.
Conservation Features: The wildlife sanctuary contains an oak-hemlock-white pine forest. The central parcel features several forested wetlands. The northern parcel contains a freshwater wetland and borders a brackish marsh along its southern boundary.
Norwood Mills Wildlife Sanctuary, Rockport
On Cape Ann, west of Granite Street (Route 127) near Halibut Point in Rockport, the southern boundary of the sanctuary abuts the town-owned Pine Pit Conservation Area.
Conservation Features: The sanctuary is dominated by native plant species and two streams cross the property flowing south to north. There is a small stone dam on the stream that crosses the western side of the property. The impoundment behind this stream has largely filled with sediment and is vegetated with a shrub swamp that is transitioning into a forested wetland. Rock outcroppings are common and slopes are steep in some locations.