Gloucester, Massachusetts

Total Acres: 23

Year Conserved: 2000


Property Description:

The Carter Reservation is a great place to study the glacial geology of New England. As part of the terminal moraine that comprises all of Cape Ann, this land is among the final resting places for rocky debris left behind by melting glaciers over 10,000 years ago. Today, many huge boulders, which were dragged south from as far away as Newfoundland, still look as if they have just dropped from the sky onto a foreign land. Ancient mounds of dirt and silt, known as drumlins, and winding ridges known as eskers can also be found throughout the area.

 There's a geocache here! Learn more here!


This area was the most prosperous and most populated part of Gloucester in the mid-1700s despite its rocky terrain. Inland from enemy navies and rogue pirates along the coast, the region provided protection for early settlers. By the mid 1800’s, peace reigned and most families moved to the shore to make their living from the sea. 


Origin of the term Dogtown:

Historians and urban mythology offer different explanations for the origin of the term Dogtown. Local lore speculates that as the original inhabitants moved back to the more populated neighborhoods along the Gloucester shore, some widows and fisherman remained, keeping dogs for protection and company. Eventually, these residents passed on and the their dogs became feral, giving the area its name. Historians offer that “dogtowns” were outlying areas to many settled cities, where transients tended to find temporary and rustic shelter.


Special Features:

Stonewalls and old house foundations remain as visible reminders of the regions history. The Cater Reservation and surrounding area has evolved into dense woodland of mature white pine and mixed hardwoods, home to woodpeckers and migratory songbirds. The vernal pools beckon the adventurous seeking salamanders and frogs in early spring.


Drumlin: A low oval mound or small hill, typically one of a group, consisting of compacted glacial till shaped by past glacial action.


Esker - An esker is a long winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel, which occur in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions. Because of their peculiar uniform shape, eskers are somewhat like railway embankments.


Vernal pools, also called vernal ponds are temporary pools of water, which tend to reach their greatest depth in spring, due to snow melt. They are usually devoid of fish, and therefore allow the safe development of newly hatched amphibians, like tadpoles, toads and salamanders.


For more information about vernal pools, consult the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team at




Park at the Greenbelt sign at the end of Dennison Street. Parking is limited to three cars.

Parking GPS Location
Latitude: 42.651236
Longitude: -70.660462


From 128N/Grant Circle in Gloucester
Take 3rd rotary exit onto Route 127 going north. In 2.2 miles, just after the causeway bridge, turn right onto Goose Cove Lane/Dennison Street. Trailhead and parking are 0.65 miles ahead on the right. Space for 2-3 cars.



Carter Reservation

Return to All Properties


  • Carter Reservation Trail
  • Snowshoeing At Carter Reservation
  • A Greenbelt Monthly Walk at Carter Reservation
  • Remnants of stone foundation
  • Esker
  • Vernal Pool
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker


99 Dennison St, Gloucester

Use Type



  • Birding
  • Dog Walking
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • X-C Skiing


  • Wooded Upland
  • Wooded Wetland
  • Vernal Pond