My parents and I explored and picnicked at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, MA rather spontaneously. We didn't know much about the place other than the fact that it might have an Italian rose garden. Well, we never found the roses, but we did manage to find a whole lot of other interestingness that I did not expect!
For one, I did not know that Maudslay State Park is the site of a former estate, and the foundations of two large houses on the Merrimack River are still visible there. I'm a sucker for ruins, so of course this lit me right up. My favorite feature was a massive root cellar that's left WIDE OPEN and grafittied all to heck. As we came upon the giant man-made cave, we questioned, "How is this not on the map?!" Yes, the map was next-to useless, marking a rose garden where we only found a buggy swamp, and a vegetable garden where we only found a few flowers.
Other odd features include an abandoned greenhouse overrun by vines, a well that's no longer in use, and a woodland pet cemetery. There is also an iron gate that I later learned is referred to as "The Gates of Hell." Locals once made up stories of property hauntings to deter teenagers from hanging out there unlawfully. Judging by the amount of vandalism, it hasn't worked.
The park is huge, and we only really explored the part that covers the former estate. There are also many trails out in more open fields for horses and bikers. I enjoyed the views of the Merrimack River, as well as a pond where we saw a GIANT snapping turtle. I mean, this thing was a dinosaur. Groups of people were stopped to watch it swim. There are also cute, tiny stone bridges scattered along the trails. I'm not sure their purpose besides being adorable.
Overall, I'd love to go back, especially to see the many rhododendrons and azaleas all in bloom. And maybe roses?!
- Came for the roses, stayed for the ruins
- Great place for a picnic. Lots of shady tables.
- SO MANY rhododendrons and azaleas. Some were still blooming, but it would definitely be worth seeing them in full bloom in spring
- Great views of the Merrimack River.
- Graffitied ruins and open root cellar offer a healthy dose of strangeness.
- Dog-walkers paradise. I saw so many cute doggies.
- The posted maps and the printed maps don't match, and the trails can be confusing.