Total Acres: 265
Year Conserved: Multiple
Sawyer's Island was conserved by Essex County Greenbelt in 1990 and became part of the 265-acre Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in 2012. The Sanctuary connects over 8,000 acres in a mosaic of protected land and wildlife habitat within the Great Marsh Ecosystem, supporting an astonishing diversity of plants and animals, including rare and endangered species. It also serves as critical migratory bird habitat and important breeding grounds for many species of birds, fish, and crustaceans.
The site of the former Salem Fraternity Boys Camp, the island is bordered by Sawyer’s Island Creek and Mud Creek, which curves around its northern end. The views in every direction are spectacular, and include an active Osprey nesting platform. Stands of oak and hickory on the northwest edge of the island provide a lovely sheltered picnic area. The site is also a perfect launch for a kayak or canoe.
For Your Safety:
- Obey posted regulations.
- Carry out what you carry in.
- Use between sunrise and sunset only.
- Motorized vehicles are not permitted.
- Dog–walkers please pick up after your pets.
- Hunting is allowed on adjacent salt marsh areas. During the fall and winter hunting seasons, we recommend you wear bright clothing and stay on the marked trails.
- Take precautions to reduce your exposure to ticks and other insects.
- Learn to identify poison ivy and avoid it. Thoroughly wash your skin and clothing immediately after exposure.
- A portion of the island is privately owned and protected by Greenbelt with a conservation restriction. We ask that you respect the fence-marked boundary.
Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary is located along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, part of the congressionally designated Essex National Heritage Area. The Area’s extensive historic, cultural and natural resources tell the story of the region’s role in the nation’s early settlement, maritime trade and industrialization.
Get Out and Paddle
Terrain: Tidal, marsh, open ocean
Distance: 1-6 hours
Best months: October or November, when the insects have departed, and when you can float among the scoters, long-tailed ducks, goldeneyes, mergansers, and possibly harbor seals.
Launch your boat into Mud Creek. There are endless opportunities for exploring. If you’re feeling ambitious, cruise through Plum Island Sound and out to open ocean. Or stay inland and explore the Parker River Wildlife Refuge in the Great Marsh.
There are two options for parking. First, you can park at the property entrance (2-3 vehicle limit) by taking the first left off Stackyard Road onto Patmos Road. Follow that about one mile to the end. Park on the left near the property sign. Do not block private drive to the right of entrance. Second, you can park in the turnout on the right at the beginning of Stackyard Road, across from the forked intersection where Patmos Road turns to the left. From this point, you can take a very pretty mile-long walk along Patmos Road through the salt marsh out to Sawyers Island.
From the traffic light in Rowley Center:
Drive north on Route 1A for about two miles. Turn right onto a dirt road marked Stackyard Road. Take the first left onto Patmos Road and follow it one mile to the property entrance.