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A place where local children have come to play in nature for more than 300 years, Jennie Lagoulis Reservation at Four Rock & Devil’s Den offers a unique landscape and biodiversity of uplands, wetlands and maritime forest.
Before they were limestone and serpentine mines for the colonists, Devil’s Den and Devil’s Basin were quarry sites of the Pawtucket of Agawam and other Algonquians before them arriving via the Merrimack River. An early historian said that the name of the river comes from Merroh-auke, “strong place”, but linguists note that Merri also means “deep” and is contained in an Algonquian word for “sturgeon”, a deep-water fish of the Merrimack.
At Devil’s Den Indigenous peoples mined nuggets and crystals of ores and minerals for practical and spiritual uses, including galena, pyrite, chalcopyrite, epidote, olivine, and quartz, to name a few. They also harvested tree products and sacred plants in the woods, especially cedar, oak, and pine. Twelve thousand years ago people known as the Paleoindians hunted wood bison with spears here in the boreal forest of that time.
Now, a gently rolling, wooded trail with numerous boardwalks is well marked, starting at the parking lot. The first boardwalk skirts the edge of the large, open wet meadow and provides an excellent vantage point for birding.
The trail leads hikers through a pine forest and eventually past the Devil's Den quarries which can be explored by visitors of all ages. The trail continues over rolling terrain through stands of pine, cedar and oaks.
When the quarries were abandoned, the land became a place for summer recreation where imaginative children added tales of sorcery, renaming the cave Devil’s Den.
Today, the Merrohawke Nature School is in session much of the year Monday-Friday. Their main classroom area is immediately adjacent to the parking area. Merrohawke maintains fire rings and other natural structures intended for their use only.
A large wet meadow surrounded by upland forest of cedars, conifers and hardwoods laced with colonial era stonewalls. Wildflowers are abundant in the open meadow rimmed by marsh grasses and plants that turn from lush green in spring/summer to golden waves in the fall.
Deer, coyote, fox and other forest-loving creatures make their home in the meadow and forests. The property provides important habitat for state-listed species like northern harrier and short-eared owl, as well as warblers, egrets, herons, bitterns and occasionally the elusive whip-poor-will.
75 Boston Road, (Opens in Google Maps) off Route 1, Newbury.
Latitude 42.778958, Longitude -70.876544
From Route 1 North/Boston Road:
Turn right onto Boston Road. In 0.3 miles, bear left on Boston Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.25 miles ahead on left.
From Route 1 South/Boston Road:
Turn left onto Boston Road. In 0.3 miles, bear left on Boston Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.25 miles ahead on left.
From Route 95/Exit 83 Scotland Road:
Go northeast on Scotland Road towards Newburyport. In 2.0 miles, turn right onto Highfield Road. In 0.7 miles, turn right onto Middle Road. In 0.8 miles turn left onto Boston Road, cross Route 1, and in 0.3 miles bear left on Boston Road. In 0.45 miles, bear left on Boston Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.25 miles ahead on left.
A large gravel parking lot is marked with Greenbelt signage. Note the Devil's Pulpit rock formation across the street.
82 Eastern Avenue
PO Box 1026
Essex, MA 01929
Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider