Halibut Point State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located on Cape Ann in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts. The state park’s 1,400 acres (560ha) include rocky shores and bluffs facing Buzzards Bay with views toward Mount Agamenticus and the Isles of Shoals off to the northwest, as well as an extensive network of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation which protects areas under its Greenways program.
A seasonal shuttle service connects the park with Ipswich River State Reservation, offering access to the Ipswich River Rail Trail. The park has several miles of rugged seaside cliffs that offer surfing, although this activity is currently illegal. The park includes a campground with tent sites, leantos, and minimally improved walking trails. There are plans to add camper cabins and other amenities in the future. The park provides access points for the Bay Circuit Trail and the Big Dig trail.
The park hosts “The Annual Halloween Hikes” each year, in which costumed interpreters give tours of the grounds in search of Halloween ghosts. Ghost hunting organizations such as Ghost Hunters and Monster Quest have featured the event on their television shows. The park is used as a filming location for movies and television scenes, particularly those set in the 1950s or 1960s. Examples include Midnight in the Garden, Witches’ Night, Witchfinder, Little Darlings, Capricorn One, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Haven, and Stranger Things. Scenes from The Twilight Zone were shot there as well. The park features prominently in the novel The Shadow Riders by Peter Blauner, serving as the main setting for the story line involving Jack Marshall.
In 1648, English settlers encountered opposition from local Native Americans who attacked them during the night at what would become known as the First Night Attack. Twenty years later, in 1668, colonists suffered through another attack during the Second Night Attack. These events led to increased security around the settlement, including the construction of Fort Warren near present day Boston. As a result, few people lived west of the fortification, where the attacks took place. With no one living close to the land, it was soon overgrown with weeds and became unsafe for use. However, after two centuries of abuse, the land had become valuable again.
In 1944, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acquired more than 700 acres of land for $300,000; development began soon afterwards. Land adjacent to the site was also purchased by the state for conservation purposes, resulting in the creation of Halibut Woods State Forest. On November 5, 1951, the state made its first grant of about 500 acres to create Halibut State Park. Additional lands have been added to the park since then, but the core area of forested woodlands remains largely unchanged.
The park offers opportunities for:
- horseback riding
- mountain climbing
- cross-country skiing