Field Sketch by Peggy Rambach from Rough Meadows Outing

Field Sketching at Rough Meadows Wildlife Management Area in Rowley, MA

In our quest for new places to explore, Peggy Rambach suggested we try Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Rowley, MA for a late August field sketching outing. We had three guild members gather for a hike but we were limited to the main road as any time we wandered onto smaller trails with vegetation nearby the mosquitoes were all too happy to see us even with copious application of bug spray. We will be back to explore the area in the late fall early winter as hopefully the mosquitoes will be gone by then and the fall colors will be dramatic.

Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Rowley, MA has 1.7 miles of trails through 226 acres encompassing spectacular coastal woodlands, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and salt pannes, and supports an astonishing diversity of wildlife. The sanctuary, managed in collaboration with the Essex County Greenbelt, is part of the Great Marsh ecosystem. The area has been designated an Important Bird Area and Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

– taken from Mass Audubon website

Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Highlights

  • Five well-marked trails through magnificent coastal woodlands to several viewpoints that offer panoramas of the Great Marsh.
  • Habitats that favor many breeding bird species, such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Saltmarsh Sparrows, as well as migratory birds like Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.
  • Granite benches at the end of Professor Chandler’s Long Walk and on the Kestrel Trail, providing wonderful places to sit, contemplate nature, or have a snack.
  • Sawyer’s Island, a one-mile hike from the parking area, has spectacular vistas from every direction and a view of an active Osprey nesting platform.
  • Programs for all ages are held through Joppa Flats Education Center.

Two sanctuaries to visit in Rowley!

Alternatively, you can also visit Nelson Island, which is immediately next to Rough Meadows, but you must pay attention to the tides as this area is affected by the high tide, make sure to check the tide schedule and plan accordingly.

A few things to know if you decide to go!

  • The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Bring your binoculars, spotting scopes, and zoom lenses as there are plenty of birds to see, but they are often not close to the trails you are on.
  • We recommend wearing bug spray, sunscreen, and a hat and bringing a windbreaker as the area is wide open and you will be exposed to the sun and wind.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Have appropriate insect repellent and apply it if you expect to get into any vegetation that may harbor ticks or mosquitoes.
  • Bring portable seating for extended sessions of sketching or painting in one place.
  • Bring your lunch and plenty of water, there are no facilities at this location.
  • Download a PDF trail map to have with you while you hike.