Long-standing program helps connect people to the incredible historic, cultural, and natural resources of the Essex National Heritage Area!
ESSEX COUNTY – Presented by Essex Heritage, Trails & Sails is an annual event series that features more than 150 free events over 10 days, this year held from Friday, September 15th through Sunday, September 24th. These events celebrate the many incredible historic, cultural, and natural resources in the Essex National Heritage Area: the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, a 500 square mile region just north of Boston, MA. Participants can visit the website to explore all events at www.trailsandsails.org or pick up a guidebook at one of the 13 Visitor Centers in Essex County, as well as in most local libraries.
Essex Heritage CEO, Annie Harris, said, “Trails & Sails was created 22 years ago to encourage residents to experience some of the wonderful trails, museums, historic sites, and water-based activities that abound in this region. All the events are free, so there is plenty of incentive for locals to visit these special places that they drive by every day.”
Event participants can take advantage of a variety of family-friendly activities including bird walks, guided hikes, historical tours, book lectures, boat rides, river paddles, and more – happening morning, afternoon, and evening over 10 days. With so many things to do and see during Trails & Sails, there’s something for everyone.
In 2023, Essex Heritage has identified four themes of significant importance to the Essex National Heritage Area including learning about where you live and taking care of it, the importance of our coastal resources and preserving them, recognizing the many influences and contributions of the Latino community within the Heritage Area, and new stories being uncovered in our local history. Helping to raise awareness about the important work being done by our regional partners is another way that Trails & Sails brings the community together. Some highlighted activities are included below.
Looking to the Future
The natural beauty of the Essex National Heritage Area is something to be cherished! During Trails & Sails, you can learn more about sustainability in Salem, explore along the Shawsheen river in Andover, meet forest creatures in Georgetown, take a guided fall hike in Lawrence, and more. There are so many ways to connect with the natural resources in Essex County and ensure they are here for generations to come.
Preserving Coastal Resources
With the impacts of climate change and other factors, it is more important than ever to learn about the many coastal resources of the Essex National Heritage Area and how we can protect them. During Trails & Sails you can identify marine invasive species in Gloucester harbor, take a walking tour of Newburyport’s changing waterfront, or trek into the Great Marsh in Rowley to discover its superpowers.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage
Trails & Sails falls during the first half of Hispanic Heritage month and is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the important contributions of the Latino community in the Essex National Heritage Area! Take a mural tour or a free salsa class in Salem, a cemetery tour in Spanish in Lynn, or check out the Hispanic Heritage Festival in Methuen. Join our partners throughout the county in celebrating the many Hispanic influences that make this region vibrant.
Sharing Untold Stories
Hear the lesser-known stories of Essex County during Trails & Sails! Visit a real Wetu in Gloucester, take a cemetery tour in Newburyport to learn about the lives of the Black Newburyporters who are buried there, be inspired by the trailblazing women of the American Revolution in Marblehead, and so much more. Telling the stories of all the people of the Essex National Heritage Area helps us to better understand its diverse history.
All Trails & Sails events are free, and most are available on a first-come, first-served basis except for certain reservation-required events. Be sure to visit trailsansails.org for the most up to date information and instructions as applicable.