Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hellcat Trail, Plum Island

photo of Hellcat Trail, Plum Island, MAOne of the most scenic seaside settings in all of New England is that of Plum Island, a barrier island just east of the city of Newburyport, MA. Parts of the island includes the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which is a great place for bird watching, walking, and just enjoying the solitude the area has to offer. One of the most remote-feeling sections of the refuge is about midway down the island, where the Hellcat Wildlife Observation Area and the Hellcat Trail can be found. The trail, which starts from a parking area on the right side of the road (heading south) is mostly a boardwalk that cuts through some otherwise inaccessible land that includes thick brush, high grass, and swampland. It is an easy, level trail that can be done as a fairly quick loop, and some of it is exposed, affording views of Plum Island Sound and the low hills in the distance. Figure on a half hour to an hour to do the loop, including breaks to soak in the views.

Most of Plum Island is breathtakingly beautiful, especially at sunset, and the Hellcat area is certainly one of the most scenic parts of the island. The trail is easy to do and parking usually isn't a problem, so this is a good walk to do with beginners or those who otherwise might not be into hiking.

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