Halibut Point State Park

So I’m going off track a bit here. I realized today, after going out for what has become our weekly hike, that a blog I once wrote years ago is coming in handy again as a guide for local places to hike. With the pandemic still not over, and many places still not open to visit, we were looking for a place to hike, and I remembered a park in Rockport. It was right on the water, and although we’d visited in February, I remembered it being beautiful. So this morning we went, and I checked my blog from back in 2009 and my posts were still all out there. But the photos have disappeared. Seems blogspot disconnected from my photo library, and I don’t even remember what it was. It’s been far too long. BUT I am going to start transferring those posts here, and adding new photos we take as we explore together. I hope you enjoy. There are no recipes, but at the time we were hiking with our corgi, Tucker, and my mom who was not well. So we rated each park by “wags” depending on if it was dog friendly, and also whether it was wheelchair accessible, easy to walk, and safe for kids.

The following post was originally written by myself and posted to 52b452.blogspot.com 2/28/2010 the photos are from 6/20/2020

on the point of Halibut Point
On a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Agamenticus in Maine

Halibut Point State Park

A Beautiful Walk by the Ocean!

If you love open woods, fields, ocean breezes, and a bit of history, this is the park for you!

  • Tucker’s Rating: 4 wags (he didn’t join us but would have loved it)
  • Our Rating: 4.5 wags. Just too interesting a place to only visit once
  • Accessibility: Good. Some steep paths, and rocky areas, but most navigable. Ramps to visitors center (which was closed) and clean, warm restrooms at visitors center, with chemical toilets near parking lot. During summer months they also provide guided tours with special assisted listening devices.
  • Fees: In winter FREE! Parking fee during the warmer months
  • Special Activities: Granite Cutting demos on Saturdays in summer.

We had intended to drive to Maine but decided to stay a bit closer to home and found ourselves driving out to Rockport, MA and Halibut Point State Park. We got a bit confused with our GPS directions and found ourselves winding through some amazing ocean front neighborhoods on the way to the park but still arrived just after 10 AM. In time to MISS the winter birding trip that was scheduled, but early enough to catch the trails without a ton of people wandering. This seems to be the type of park that people frequent all year round and we came across birders, moms with kids out for a picnic, and plenty of beautiful, wintery wood scenes… most of our pictures have that gray/taupe monochrome color but with the vivid blue sky in the background it was just beautiful.

a sandy path through the woods
Woods that look like woods are supposed to look

Woods That Look Like Woods are Supposed to Look

What does that mean? You’ll have to go and find out. Wandering vines, catbriar, bayberry, blueberry, arrowwood, shadbush and what we believe to be lots of Virginia roses which we seem to find along the ocean on every trip, create a very open, airy wood, minus the standard evergreen trees we’re accustomed to. And everywhere you’ll find slabs of granite. Halibut Point is located on slabs of 440 million year old granite… and at the end of the main trail you’ll arrive at the quarry itself. Part of the Babson Farm Quarry and Rockport Granite Company.

flowering vines in the sand
on the way to the rocks and tide pools

Previous Occupants of the Quarry site

We found the site very interesting, including the renovated WWII firetower that acts as a visitor’s center (closed in winter) but previously was used by the military to protect both Boston and Portsmouth Harbors, the foundations of a coal burning power plant that the granite quarry workers used to power their equipment, and even the granite base of a railroad that was used to transport granite to the main lines for shipment across the country. The visitor’s center features various forms of granite and equipment used to harvest the stone from the quarry. As you walk around the quarry itself, a self-guided trail map will show the various features leftover from the quarry’s heydays.

fire tower overlooking the quarry
Fire tower and now a visitor’s center that is closed to the public due to the pandemic

Amazing Views
We walked all the way out on to the point which, according to the self-guided brochure, is made up of a mountain of waste granite. The view at the end is amazing. On the clear day we were there we could see all the way to Mt. Agamenticus in ME, and also Seabrook’s power plant and Sandy Point Reservation on Plum Island (one of our first blog trips!). The water looked cold and the wind didn’t help, so we’d recommend wearing something with a hood if you’re heading out here in winter. But it was definitely beautiful. Looking down at the beach to the right of the point we could see many stone piles people have left behind. I don’t think we’ve seen more in one place except for those we saw on Martha’s Vineyard, and we can never resist taking photos. It just looks like a line of soldiers on the beach.

a pile of quarried granite
The leftovers of the old quarry

On the backside of the quarry we ran into some birders and chatted a bit about how many birds pass through this area in winter, including loons, grebes and puffins. We did bring binoculars but I think you’d have to sit for a while in one space for these types of birds to feel comfortable enough to come within viewing distance. The winter birding group had taken a different trail that led down to the beach and we decided that with all the wind and the amount of walking we’d already done, we weren’t feeling like taking that additional route… plus, lunch was included in our plans, so we headed into Rockport and Bearskin Neck.

A Great Place to Wander and Shop
Even in Winter, Rockport is a great destination for anyone who likes to poke around in shops, buy jewelry, t-shirts, and fudge, check out some beautiful art galleries and just soak up the atmosphere of an ocean-side town. Motif #1 is one of the most famous sites in Rockport…. everyone has seen it whether or not they know what it is or where it is, and we chose to have lunch at The Greenery… a great lunch spot with a view overlooking the small harbor and Motif #1 sitting there large as life! It was like a painting come to life with gulls, and loons paddling around in front of it. We also made certain to stop at Tuck’s Candy before heading home, for just a tiny piece of almond bark as dessert. There are so many things going on in Rockport year-round, and tons of little bed and breakfasts to stay in that this is a destination we’d highly recommend for a weekend getaway… but make it a long weekend. Otherwise you’ll feel short changed. We know we’re going back so we were okay with it just being a day. Rockport is a “can’t get there from here” kind of location so plan for a nice drive out and back, and thankfully during the warmer months the park is open from 8 am to 8 pm so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your day! We’re definitely going back, and as with Blackstone this one is getting added to our list of favorites!

Other Photos from today’s visit

We’re going to start revisiting more parks, so if you enjoy, let me know. Should be posting another tomorrow.

And we’d like to acknowledge our old traveling companions who were with us on most adventures when I first wrote this post: our dog Tucker, and my mom Lillian. Both have passed on, but I like to think that when we’re out exploring, they’re with us enjoying the trip!