Hellcat Freshwater Marsh Trail

Newburyport, Massachusetts

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A boardwalk loop through a beach plum orchard and freshwater marsh on the Parker River, alive with migrating birds and waterfowl. Plum Island Sound is fed by four rivers, including the Parker River and the Plum Island River (a runoff from the Merrimack River mouth), as well as Atlantic tides around the southern tip of this intriguing tidal barrier island. The 4,662-acre Parker River National Wildlife Refuge— encompassing most of Plum Island and the Parker River estuary— was established in 1942 to protect critical nesting and feeding habitat for migrating birds. The refuge is accessible along the 6.3-mile Sunset Road, with numerous pull-offs, observation towers, platforms, and several trails. Bird watchers flock here in spring to observe the migrating warblers and some of the 300 other species sighted in the refuge. On one April day, we spotted ruby-crowned kinglets, hermit thrushes, and yellow-throated warblers. The Atlantic beaches in the refuge are closed from April to August, when endangered piping plovers are nesting and raising their young.
Nature Walks along the Seacoast: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, & Maine

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Nature Walks along the Seacoast: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, & Maine

by Julia Older & Steve Sherman (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)

A boardwalk loop through a beach plum orchard and freshwater marsh on the Parker River, alive with migrating birds and waterfowl. Plum Island Sound is fed by four rivers, including the Parker River and the Plum Island River (a runoff from the Merrimack River mouth), as well as Atlantic tides around the southern tip of this intriguing tidal barrier island. The 4,662-acre Parker River National Wildlife Refuge— encompassing most of Plum Island and the Parker River estuary— was established in 1942 to protect critical nesting and feeding habitat for migrating birds.

The refuge is accessible along the 6.3-mile Sunset Road, with numerous pull-offs, observation towers, platforms, and several trails. Bird watchers flock here in spring to observe the migrating warblers and some of the 300 other species sighted in the refuge. On one April day, we spotted ruby-crowned kinglets, hermit thrushes, and yellow-throated warblers. The Atlantic beaches in the refuge are closed from April to August, when endangered piping plovers are nesting and raising their young.

©  Julia Older & Steve Sherman/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Newburyport
Distance: 0.7
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 45 minutes
Season: Best spring through fall
Local Contacts: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge at Plum Island
Driving Directions: Directions to Hellcat Freshwater Marsh Trail

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Apr 2018