When it comes to beaches, I am a bit of a snob after spending many a long summer on Nantucket’s white sand beaches. This sunny winter weekend, we took a ride just North of Boston to Crane Beach in Ipswich Massachusetts. We found an incredibly beautiful beach, where dogs are allowed to play off leash, at least in the winter.
Our Boston dog, who spent his puppyhood as a beach dog on Nantucket, was shaking with excitement when we pulled into the parking lot at Crane Beach. The salty ocean breeze, the sounds of talkative seagulls and the promise of saltwater meeting sand is as intoxicating to my dog as is myself. If you love going to the beach as much as we do, take a moment to learn more about Crane Beach, the Green Dog program and enjoy a bunch of pictures of dogs playing on the beach.
The drive from Boston through Ipswich to Crane Beach only takes about forty minutes (Google Map Link). If you have not been, Ipswich alone, is worth the drive. Just imagine lazy country roads meandering through classic New England horse country. Sprawling estates, open fields and fieldstone lined roads. Ipswich has a cute town center, where I recommend stopping off to pick up sandwiches and water beforehand or a little shopping afterwards.
Crane Beach is part of the Crane Estate, which you will pass on the way to the actual beach entrance. Crane Beach, unlike most other Trustee of The Reservations properties, is not free. However, here you can purchase a day pass for you and your dog without having a membership. Non-members pay $7 for the car and another $3 for the dog to be a Green Dog for the day. Dogs are allowed on the beach from October 1st through March 31st; sadly it is almost over.
Once you park the car, consider taking a moment to exercise your dog (go to the bathroom) before you go to the beach. One of the biggest issues with dogs on the beach is the poop. Unload the loaded dog in advance, it will save you from walking around with a bag of poop or having your dog duck out of sight leaving poop un-noticed. Regardless, dog poop left behind will kill this fantastic Green Dog pilot program. There is even an area near the porta potties with pine trees, perfect to entice a dog to go to the bathroom as well. You want to use the walkway to the beach on the far left, there was a garbage can waiting there.
Once you are on the beach, go left and you will find off-leash dog nirvana. The scene was fantastic, our dog spent the day chasing sticks into the water, playing with other dogs and digging in the sand. Although the best beach digger I saw was an eight year old kid down the beach, he dug a pool. My dog pales in comparison for digging holes in the beach.
I do suggest, in addition to poop bags; pack water, a sandwich or a snack and prepare to be here longer than you would have thought. Crane Beach is absolutely beautiful. We were so impressed with the land we came both Saturday and Sunday to better explore the area.
After thoroughly tiring out our dog in the off-leash area, we headed to the opposite end of Crane Beach where you need to keep your dog on a leash. Especially when it comes to the sand dunes. Sand dunes prevent beach erosion. The delicate grasses hold the sand dunes together. If you step on the grasses, they die and the whole system comes unraveled. I can’t stress this enough, the dunes are also home to an amazing amount of ticks and other sharp grasses which will slice your dogs feet open (just so you know).
We found an entrance to the trail system, simply marked by metal fence stakes and rope. The trails were easy to follow, but not for the faint at heart. You are walking in deep sand and up and down hills. You do need to keep your dog on a short leash in these types of areas. Off the trail, the ground is full of sharp objects and is home to wildlife. We enjoyed a very quiet walk through some unbelievable trails. Please remember, this is just a very delicate habitat far removed from the dogs cavorting on the beach some distance away.
The Green Dog program at Crane Beach, is a fantastic start to a much needed program enabling families with dogs to legally enjoy off-leash play and socialization. I commend the Trustees of the Reservations for implementing such a program and can only hope they continue to expand upon it. Imagine the value of a Trustees of the Reservations membership if this were a year round program.