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Walking on Crane Beach

What to Bring

Walking shoes   Sunscreen
Backpack   Windbreaker
Sunglasses   Insect repellent
Hat   Water
Comfortable pants   Snacks


  From Boston, take Route 1 north, or from I 95 north, take exit 50 for Route 1 north
  In Topsfield, turn right onto Ipswich St., becoming Topsfield Rd, then becoming Market St. in Ipswich
  Turn right onto Route 1A and follow it past two sharp left and right curves
Turn left on Argilia Rd and drive until you reach the gatehouse at the end of the road
  Good to know in advance

Bathhouses with toilets and changing facilities available at the parking in-season; toilets available off-season

  Lifeguards and Rangers in high season
  Map available at gatehouse
  Crane Beach is owned and managed by the Trustees of Reservation; members can get a discount on the entrance fee.
  Stay on designated trails
  Do not enter fenced dune areas
  Do not enter fenced wildlife management areas
  Bring back your trash with you

Dogs prohibited on beach April 1
—September 30

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Walking on
Crane Beach

ID Card

Overall rating: Two-Star Rating Two-Star Rating Two-Star Rating Two-Star Rating Two-Star Rating
Difficulty: 1/5
  Time from Boston: 1 hour
  Duration: Half day/full day
Cost: $20 per car weekends and holidays ($10 weekdays,
$2 pedestrians and bikes);
half price after 3 pm
  Main activity:


  What do our ratings mean?
Crane Beach is managed for both conservation and recreation—wildlife and people. It provides important habitat for numerous rare plants, invertebrates, mammals, birds, shellfish and finfish. With 7 miles of waterfront and over 1,000 acres of dunes and upland, it is a wonderful place to enjoy the great outdoors.

In this outing, you will leave from the parking lot and walk over the main access boardwalk at the far end of the parking lot. Once on the sand, you can start your walk on your right. Depending on the tide, the beach may be quite wide and you will have more than enough space to walk, run or play with your children or friends.

You may spot trail entrances (there are two of these along the beach) in the dunes behind you - they lead to a trail network that allows you to explore the dune area and walk down to Castle Neck River. Because trails can be hard to follow and because walking in sand dunes can be tiring, however, go there only if you have kept the map handed at the gatehouse and if you are in good shape. Once there, however, you will feel miles away from New England! Please refer to our destination the Dunes of Crane Beach to explore this area. Otherwise, walk back to the parking lot the way you came.

Remember that dunes are very fragile—always stay on trails even if you are not sure they lead you where you want, and do not walk on the beach grass planted to limit erosion. Also remember that walking in the sand can wear you out quicker than on firm surfaces, and do not overestimate your strength when deciding how much of the area to explore.

Considering the relatively high entrance fee, you may want to spend the whole day at Crane Beach, which is a nice place to have picnic. Beware of windy days, however, as the wind can make the beach much cooler than inland.

If you want a more challenging experience and you are in good shape after the beach walk, go hiking in the sand dunes.

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