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Stoney Cove has connected West Gloucester to Gloucester since colonial times. Jutting out at a bend in the Little River where it joins the Annisquam River, this jewel provides a beautiful entry to Gloucester along busy Route 128. The property combines history with exceptional habitat.
Prior to English settlement, Indigenous people known as the Pawtucket lived on the alewife brooks that empty into Little River at Kent Cove, Stoney Cove, and Presson Point. They fished here and canoed to Rust Island in the Annisquam River, where they maintained a shellfishing industry, and to the Jones River, where they dug clay for their pottery. Routes 133 and Concord Street were Indian trails, and the waterway sources are in the Red Rocks Conservation area, a landscape the Algonquians regarded as sacred.
Archaeological investigations at Presson’s Point in the 1940s revealed several small shell heaps containing arrowheads, spearheads, an axe head, and a pestle.
One can now experience the successional stages of a forest while strolling the woods of Stoney Cove and Presson Point. It takes about 100 years for a field to grow to a mature forest, as pasture gives way to pioneer tree growth of poplars and junipers that eventually are shaded over by emerging hickory, oak and maple. The fresh water marsh is slowly filling and turning to upland.
The pier sees constant use, for fishing, birdwatching, picnicking and enjoying the lovely views of salt marsh with Gloucester in the distance. Clammers continue to harvest the tidal flats of the Little River.
Trails lead through stands of hickory, oak and pines while red maples dominate the wetland areas. Salt marsh along Stoney Cove features low and high marsh grasses; deep green in summer, then turning yellow to brown in fall.
A popular birding and fishing spot; look for shorebirds on the mud flats at low tide. The Little River supports a herring run in late April to early May. Predators such as gulls and river otter that feed on these fish can be seen at this time. Look for coyote, skunk and white-tailed deer tracks near the streambed.
Route 128, Gloucester. (Opens in Google Maps)
Latitude 42.625613, Longitude -70.704964
From the northbound side of Route 128 in Gloucester pass Exit 54. Parking is 0.2 miles ahead on the right, directly off the highway, just before the stone pier. Park in the pullout off Route 128 just before the stone pier.
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