Hitting the Trail: Crane Beach (Ipswich, Massachusetts).

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!


Today we are taking a trip to the Massachusetts coast to visit Crane Beach, a beach well known to Massachusetts residents for its beautiful ocean views and miles of soft sand. The beach is often crowded in the summer and the parking lot fills early, making it more of a commitment to plan a visit. But in the fall and winter, the beach has ample parking and makes a wonderful place for families to take a walk, discovering washed up sea creatures along the way.

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Moon snail


Some Things to Know

Location: Crane Beach is located in Ipswich, Massachusetts (north of Boston).

Habitat: Ocean beach surrounded by coastal sand dunes and salt marsh.

Favorite Plant & Animal Life: Crane Beach is an important nesting site for the piping plover, a plucky little bird threatened by extinction in years gone by when it was hunted for its feathers and eggs. The plover population is recovering thanks to conservations efforts at Crane Beach and elsewhere on the Massachusetts coast, but is still considered threatened.

Special Features: Crane Beach offers miles of pristine coastline with easy walking conditions and is great for curious beach combers looking for shells, crabs, and other seashore specimens. In the summer, the swimming at Crane is particularly good, even for families with small children who might otherwise be concerned about tides. Crane Beach also has a network of trails leading away from the shore into the surrounding dunes, making it a great place for a quiet hike.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The beach is open year round, and offers different things to visitors depending on the season. In the summer, swimming conditions are great, and the beach is the perfect place to spend a day lounging in the sand. But in the fall and winter, it makes a great place for a walk in the sand, and dogs are allowed (on leash) during the off season as well. You might also see horseback riders along the shore in the winter months.

6 comments… add one

  • tamara January 7, 2014, 8:38 am

    There are many people here who frequent the beaches in winter. I have yet to try and think the boys would love it! Is that a moonsnail?

    The piping plover is threatened here in NS as well. We have plover licence plates that can be purchased instead of the basic NS one, as one way to bring attention and support the plover’s habitat.

    • annie and dawn January 8, 2014, 7:24 am

      It is a moon snail! I have much affection for them and am always happy when I can find a shell :)

  • Jessica January 7, 2014, 11:24 am

    I first visited a beach in winter a couple of years ago — we have photos of us all wearing our wool, winter coats! BUT, I was surprised to find so many beautiful specimens there — it’s a whole different *feeling* in winter.

    • annie and dawn January 8, 2014, 7:25 am

      Yes! I was at the beach in Cape Cod a few weeks ago and it was snowing and absolutely freezing. But probably the best beach combing of my life- I found amazing things!

  • Chelsea W January 7, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Thanks for posting about Crane Beach! We live in MA and this seems like it would be a great off-season day trip for my kids!

    • annie and dawn January 8, 2014, 7:25 am

      It is definitely good for the off season. It is a fantastic swimming beach in the summer, too, but much more crowded then!

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