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Dogtown Loop Trail to Briar Swamp

MODERATE 106 reviews

Dogtown Loop Trail to Briar Swamp is a 6.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Gloucester, Massachusetts that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

6.3 miles
416 feet

dog friendly

cross country skiing


mountain biking

nature trips


trail running


bird watching




wild flowers





5 months ago

Beautiful, but very easy to get lost. Not a well marked trail. Has some cool sights, like the rocks with words written on them and the bases of homes that were once built there.

7 months ago

I've spent close to a decade hiking Dogtown and it's a beautiful area. It can be quite easy to get lost out there though, even with all the time I've been out there I still get lost. A few times I made it out thanks to my dogs. I've always hiked it with dogs though, abs haven't hiked it since the dogs passed away.

Don't be scared away by the lore, they are a really magical woods. There was a tragic murder back in the 80's but it gets sensationalized too often, it was a tragedy but an isolated one, and the killer was caught.

It's also very easy to end up in people's back yards in Dogtown. People are generally very nice if you're respectful.

8 months ago

Hikers, be aware: there was a murder on this trail in the 1980s.
Spooky, historical hike. Dogtown was settled in the 1600s by 80 families fleeing pirates, natives, and other coastal bombardments. After the revolutionary war and the war of 1812, dogtown was abandoned, and became a ghost town that housed squatters in the abandoned buildings. Lots of rumors about witches and other such things, too. The numbered boulders signify where a house once stood.
Easy to get lost - multiple maps are needed.

trail running
8 months ago

A bit longer by my GPS. Nice trail overall, great for h King and okay for trail running. The moraine section was difficult, and the trail is poorly marked. Needed the map consistently and still made a couple incorrect turns. Great trail for his area

11 months ago

A fascinating walk into history and the mind of Babson. Come prepared with a physical map as well as this app, and you’ll do great. We were out on a sunny spring morning before the leaves were out so it was relatively easy to spot the trail markers.

It’s not creepy.

Friday, February 23, 2018

dont come here.

we've spent too much time getting familiar with this place. Read it's history. its very real. This place is dangerous and there are strange practices happening here.

multiple unsolved murders, one as recent as 20 years ago should be enough to scare off tourists.

Have felt in danger on multiple occasions here. heard what sounded like a massive dog barking and growling a hundred feet behind us, forcing us deeper into woods. Saw people off trail, and someone with a rifle on trail. Stay away!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This is such a diverse trail. We did a total of 7.4 miles. The trails are marked but can be difficult to follow so make sure you use the All Trails app. We saw at least a half a dozen ribbon snakes, dozens of toads, squirrels and chipmunks along the way. We really enjoyed this because one moment you're surrounded by a pine forest then quickly switches to birch and becomes a cooler darker swamp setting. Lots of boulders and easy elevation. We looked up the history of dogtown after our hike not realizing what we were walking through the whole time. There were moments towards the end of the hike around a field of boulders when we felt like we were being watched and saw a large branch move but nothing was there. If you're into creepy trails and hauntings this is definitely a trail for you. I'm not trying to scare anyone. Embrace it! One of my favorite hikes

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Got really lost. Wandered in woods for hours. Send help!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The dog town Loop was very difficult to follow. At the entrance to the park there were maps available. These were terrible. Luckily we had this Ap, otherwise we would not have been able to follow the trails because of the poor map and poor trail markers.
The trail I would rate as the easy side of moderate.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Awesome! Loved the rocks!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We did the orange trail from Dogtown Square to Raccoon Ledge and then around Babson Boulder. ~4 miles. Very buggy so bring the bug spray, have never seen so many caterpillars!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trails markings can be confusing. Maps are available at trailhead parking area.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

I grew up here! Wide trails, not too busy but busy enough that you're never really alone, lots to see and so many trail options!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Easy walk and numerous trails, with many different enterance points. Very nice walk in spring or fall. During the summer months there is lots of folliage and insects.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I decided to follow the hiker's map and it was a very bad idea. Most of the time I was searching for the trail and a 5.3 mile "loop" turned into an 8 mile fiasco with a dangerous section walking along the railroad track and no clear trail near it. Dogtown itself is interesting but the trails really do stop all the time at which point you have to cut through some hairy parts of the woods.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Good moderate trail! Doggie loved it!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

BE CAREFUL. The app let me to a high speed train rail. Make sure to get a trail map along with app.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spent 3 hours hiking about 6 miles throughout many paths, we followed the orange trail. Path was decently marked, some parts a little bit overgrown and we got turned around for a quick minute, but the trail was fun and peaceful. There's many more hours of exploration in these woods. This app was super useful in ensuring we were headed in the right direction, I felt more comfortable hiking in a new area with this app turned on.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Interesting area pretty trails but some areas close to entrances a bit littered. Could use a face lift.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fun for historical exploring!

Monday, March 07, 2016

Good track.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Great place. Not to hard for the kiddos. Need to know where the rock that has MOTHER written on it though! Mother's Day present is depending on it!!!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Hike here daily. No trail markers. But miles and miles to explore!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Had a great time hiking here with my pup. We hiked for nearly 3 hours and only saw one other person. It was perfect!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fun hike w/the dogs. All kinds of side trails criss-crossing everywhere. First time there, but will definitely go back. Didn't see the carved boulders on the trails I did, but will try a different entrance and venture out into side trails next time out. Trees are marked w/colored spray paint to mark the trails. I thought it was clear, but the map wasn't great. Check for ticks - dogs came out w/passengers.

Monday, May 05, 2014

This was a lovely hike with lots of nice surprises a long the way. Pretty scenery, loved the worded boulders, and lots to see. It was really difficult finding the entrance to the trails though, and the map wasn't entirely helpful. The trails start after the dumping ground site. Overall, glad we made the trip. A definite must see!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

I love venturing into dogtown. My normal route starts at Goose Cove Reservoir parking lot. I go counter clockwise around reservoir rod till I get to Overlook Trail. I take that into Adams Pines, and then up to the main Dogtown road. From there I venture right down Dogtown road to the first trail on the left which takes you over to Babson Boulder trail. I venture up Babson Boulder to Dogtown Square then head over to Tarrs trail. This takes you over to Raccoon Ledges. I then take the trail up to Squam Road and then over to Marker 19 which is the Junction to Johnsons Quarry and Anns Path. I head up to Annns Path and then take 1st left down into the Norton Tree Farm. { Be careful, easy to get lost in here...all pine trees and little markings of trails...and there are MANY splits} Easiest bet is take a left at first junction in here. I follow this till next junction, take the next right. Then follow this down to next junction. The left will take you back to Junction 19, the right will take you down to another split. I usually take the right which takes you down to the trail head to the backside of Whales Jaw {first left} If you hit junction 20 you went too far. I take the trail to go to backside of Whales Jaw bringing you to Whales jaw. I take to right at Whales Jaw down to the next junction. Take a right now your on Common road. Follow this down to the first trail on the left which is Wharf Road. Follow this straight { one more split on this trail {right}will take you back to Common road. I stay straight avoiding that right and it takes you to Dogtown Square, Dogtown road. I follow this back to #1, Adams pines trail and back around reservoir road and to my car. All tolled its about 11 miles. A good face paced walk and you can do it in about 3-3.5 hrs.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Live right down the street so this is one of my favorite spots. I walk these trails weekly with my dogs and five year old son and we all love it. Some of the secondary trails do get a bit over grown in the summer but there are marks on the trees that help you along, my son makes a game of finding the dots on the trees and rocks. Autumn and winter are my favorite times to hike up here, very few people and trails are easy to follow.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Great hike! Trails are not marked well this app helped us find our way around. Doggie friendly, my dog loved this place. We will be back again to find more fun trails to hike on.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Just finished a lovely hike here. Saw a huge (1.5ft) turtle basking in the sun on s rock in the reservoir. Stones were cool and fairly easy to find. GPS was helpful in a couple of spots. Definitely bring bug spray. Trail was uncrowded, and only a little over grown in a couple of spots.

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