Derby Wharf Trail In Massachusetts

Here is everything you need to know about the Derby Wharf Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Length: 0.38 miles.
  • Type: Walking
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: National Park Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Derby Wharf Trail, located in Salem, Massachusetts, holds a significant place in American history. Dating back to the late 18th century, the trail was originally constructed as a means to transport goods and materials to and from the bustling port of Salem. It was named after Elias Hasket Derby, a prominent merchant and shipbuilder who played a crucial role in the development of Salem’s maritime industry.

During the late 1700s and early 1800s, Salem was one of the busiest ports in the United States. The Derby Wharf Trail served as a vital link between the harbor and the city, facilitating the movement of goods such as spices, textiles, and exotic items from around the world. The trail was lined with warehouses and storage facilities, where these valuable commodities were stored before being transported further inland.

In addition to its commercial significance, the Derby Wharf Trail also played a role in the city’s maritime defense. During the War of 1812, Salem’s harbor was fortified, and the trail became an important part of the city’s defensive strategy. Fort Pickering, located at the end of the trail, was constructed to protect the harbor from potential British attacks. The trail provided easy access for soldiers and supplies, ensuring the fort’s readiness in times of conflict.

Today, the Derby Wharf Trail stands as a testament to Salem’s rich maritime history. Visitors can stroll along the trail, taking in the picturesque views of the harbor and imagining the bustling activity that once took place there. The trail also provides access to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which includes several well-preserved historic buildings and exhibits that further showcase the city’s seafaring past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Derby Wharf – The trail starts at Derby Wharf, which is located in Salem, Massachusetts. This is the main access point for the trail.

2. Salem Maritime National Historic Site – This site is located near Derby Wharf and serves as another access point for the trail. It provides parking facilities and visitor information.

3. Salem Visitor Center – The Salem Visitor Center is another access point for the trail. It offers parking facilities and visitor information about the trail and other attractions in the area.

4. Pickering Wharf – Located near Derby Wharf, Pickering Wharf is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. It serves as an access point for the trail.

5. Salem Willows Park – This park is located along the trail and offers recreational facilities, including a beach, picnic areas, and a playground. It serves as an access point for the trail.

6. Winter Island Park – Winter Island Park is located at the end of the trail and offers camping facilities, a beach, and scenic views. It serves as the final access point for the trail.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Derby Wharf Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Salem Ferry – A passenger ferry service connecting Derby Wharf to Boston.
2. Salem Trolley – A hop-on-hop-off trolley service offering guided tours around Salem.
3. Salem Train Station – A commuter rail station providing train services to Boston and other destinations.
4. Salem Bus Terminal – A bus terminal offering various bus routes within Salem and neighboring towns.
5. Salem Pedicab – A pedal-powered rickshaw service for short trips around Salem.
6. Salem Carriage – A horse-drawn carriage service providing scenic rides in Salem.
7. Salem Bike Share – A bike-sharing program offering rental bikes for exploring Salem and its trails.


The amenities available at the Derby Wharf Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: Public restrooms may be available along the trail or in nearby facilities.
2. Parking: There may be designated parking areas or parking lots nearby for visitors.
3. Camping sites: Depending on the location and regulations, there may be camping sites available nearby for overnight stays.
4. Picnic areas: There may be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy outdoor meals.
5. Benches: Benches or seating areas may be provided along the trail for visitors to rest and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Interpretive signs: Informational signs or plaques may be placed along the trail to provide visitors with historical or natural information about the area.
7. Trash receptacles: Garbage bins or trash cans may be available along the trail for visitors to dispose of their waste.
8. Water fountains: Drinking water fountains may be provided along the trail for visitors to stay hydrated.
9. Bike racks: Bike racks or bike parking areas may be available for cyclists to securely park their bicycles.
10. Accessibility features: The trail may have accessibility features such as ramps, handrails, or paved paths to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
11. Dog-friendly areas: There may be designated areas along the trail where visitors can walk their dogs, provided they are on a leash and cleaned up after.
12. Visitor center: A visitor center or information booth may be present nearby, offering maps, brochures, and additional information about the trail and its surroundings.
13. Scenic viewpoints: The trail may offer scenic viewpoints or lookout areas where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape or water bodies.
14. Wildlife viewing areas: There may be designated areas along the trail where visitors can observe and appreciate local wildlife.
15. Educational programs: The trail may offer educational programs, guided tours, or nature walks to enhance visitors’ understanding and appreciation of the area.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites – Upscale hotel with waterfront views and modern amenities.
2. The Merchant – Cozy inn offering comfortable rooms and a central location in downtown Salem.
3. Hawthorne Hotel – Historic hotel known for its elegant rooms and proximity to attractions.
4. Salem Food Tours – Guided food tours showcasing the diverse culinary scene of Salem.
5. Sea Level Oyster Bar – Seafood restaurant with a lively atmosphere and waterfront views.
6. Howling Wolf Taqueria – Casual Mexican eatery serving delicious tacos and burritos.
7. Salem Witch Museum – Museum dedicated to the history and myths surrounding the Salem witch trials.
8. Salem Police Department – Local law enforcement agency providing emergency services and assistance.

Derby Wharf Trail Difficulty Notes

The Derby Wharf Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 1.5 miles and features a mix of paved and gravel paths, making it accessible for most individuals. While there are some slight inclines and uneven terrain, the trail is generally well-maintained and easy to navigate. Hikers can enjoy scenic views of the Salem Harbor and historic landmarks along the way, including the Derby Wharf Light Station and the Custom House. Overall, the Derby Wharf Trail provides a pleasant and manageable hiking experience suitable for all skill levels.

Features And Attractions

The Derby Wharf Trail is located in Salem, Massachusetts, and offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Derby Wharf: The trail starts at Derby Wharf, a historic wharf that was once a bustling center of maritime activity. It offers beautiful views of Salem Harbor and the surrounding area.

2. Salem Maritime National Historic Site: This site encompasses several historic buildings and attractions, including the Custom House, the Derby House, and the Friendship of Salem, a replica of a 1797 merchant vessel.

3. Pickering Wharf: Located adjacent to Derby Wharf, Pickering Wharf is a charming waterfront area with shops, restaurants, and scenic views of the harbor.

4. Salem Harborwalk: The Derby Wharf Trail connects to the Salem Harborwalk, a scenic pathway that stretches along the waterfront, offering stunning views of the harbor and the city skyline.

5. Salem Willows Park: Located a short distance from Derby Wharf, Salem Willows Park is a historic seaside park with beautiful views, picnic areas, a beach, and various recreational activities.

6. Winter Island Park: Situated at the end of the Derby Wharf Trail, Winter Island Park is a scenic peninsula that offers panoramic views of Salem Harbor, a beach, a campground, and the historic Fort Pickering.

7. Fort Pickering: This historic fort, located within Winter Island Park, dates back to the 17th century and played a significant role in protecting Salem Harbor. Visitors can explore the fort’s remains and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty.

8. Salem Sound Coastwatch: Along the trail, you’ll find the headquarters of Salem Sound Coastwatch, an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the coastal environment. They offer educational exhibits and programs.

9. Salem Ferry: The trail passes by the Salem Ferry terminal, where you can catch a scenic boat ride to Boston or explore the nearby shops and restaurants.

These are just a few of the many attractions and landmarks you can experience along the Derby Wharf Trail. Each offers its own unique blend of history, natural beauty, and scenic views.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No smoking or open flames are allowed on the trail.
– Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during inclement weather or for maintenance.
– Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated paths and not venture into restricted areas.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please dispose of trash in designated bins.
– Fishing is allowed in designated areas only and requires a valid fishing license.
– Camping or overnight stays are not permitted on the trail.
– Visitors are expected to respect the natural environment and wildlife, refraining from disturbing or feeding animals.
– Use of the trail is at your own risk; be aware of potential hazards and exercise caution.

Seasonal Information

The Derby Wharf Trail, located in Salem, Massachusetts, offers visitors a scenic and historical experience along the waterfront. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are particularly ideal for a visit. One of the best times to explore the Derby Wharf Trail is during the spring and fall seasons. During these times, the weather is mild and pleasant, making it comfortable to walk along the trail and enjoy the stunning views of the harbor. The spring season brings blooming flowers and trees, adding a touch of natural beauty to the surroundings. In the fall, the foliage transforms into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely stroll.

It is important to note that the Derby Wharf Trail is subject to seasonal closures and restrictions. During the winter months, from December to February, the trail may be partially closed or have limited access due to inclement weather conditions. Snow and ice can make the path slippery and unsafe for visitors. It is advisable to check the trail’s official website or contact the local authorities before planning a visit during the winter season.

Additionally, there may be occasional closures or restrictions during special events or maintenance work. Salem is known for its Halloween festivities, and the Derby Wharf Trail may experience temporary closures or altered access during this time. It is recommended to check the event calendar or contact the Salem Visitor Center for any updates or closures related to special events.

Overall, the best times to visit the Derby Wharf Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant and the natural surroundings are at their most beautiful. However, it is important to stay informed about any seasonal closures or restrictions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Pathways: The Derby Wharf Trail features paved pathways that are wide and smooth, allowing easy navigation for wheelchair users.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the entrance of the trail, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and ample space for wheelchair maneuverability are located along the Derby Wharf Trail.
4. Wheelchair-friendly Seating: The trail offers benches and seating areas that are accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to rest and enjoy the surroundings comfortably.
5. Accessible Informational Signage: Informational signs along the trail are designed with large fonts, clear visuals, and Braille, ensuring accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.
6. Assistive Listening Devices: The Derby Wharf Trail provides assistive listening devices for individuals with hearing impairments, enhancing their experience during guided tours or audio presentations.
7. Accessible Interpretive Exhibits: Exhibits along the trail are designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, with appropriate heights and clear pathways for easy viewing and engagement.
8. Accessible Ramps and Handrails: The trail features ramps and handrails at various points, ensuring smooth transitions and providing support for individuals with mobility challenges.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: The Derby Wharf Trail offers accessible picnic areas equipped with tables at an appropriate height for wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor meals.
10. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available along the trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to stay hydrated during their visit.

Safety Information

When visiting the Derby Wharf Trail, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay on designated paths: Stick to the marked trails and avoid venturing off into restricted or unauthorized areas. This will help prevent accidents and protect the natural environment.

2. Watch your step: Be mindful of uneven surfaces, loose rocks, or tree roots along the trail. Pay attention to where you are walking to avoid tripping or slipping.

3. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy and comfortable shoes or hiking boots that provide good traction. This will help you navigate the trail safely and prevent foot or ankle injuries.

4. Dress appropriately: Check the weather forecast before your visit and dress accordingly. Wear layers to adjust to changing temperatures and bring rain gear if necessary. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

5. Stay hydrated: Carry an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated throughout your visit. Walking and exploring can be physically demanding, especially on hot days, so drink water regularly to avoid dehydration.

6. Be aware of wildlife: Derby Wharf Trail is home to various wildlife species. While observing animals can be exciting, maintain a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching them. Respect their natural habitat and do not disturb or provoke them.

7. Use insect repellent: Depending on the season, mosquitoes and ticks may be present. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing to protect yourself from bites. Consider wearing long sleeves and pants to minimize exposure.

8. Be cautious near the water: If the trail includes waterfront areas, be cautious when near the water. Pay attention to any warning signs or instructions provided. Avoid swimming in unauthorized areas or during unsafe conditions.

9. Carry a map or guide: Familiarize yourself with the trail map or guide before starting your hike. This will help you navigate the area and prevent getting lost. If available, consider using a GPS or smartphone app to track your location.

10. Inform someone about your plans: Before heading out, let someone know about your visit to the Derby Wharf Trail, especially if you are hiking alone. Share your expected return time and any specific plans you have. This will ensure that someone is aware of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when exploring any natural area. By following these guidelines, you can have an enjoyable and safe experience at the Derby Wharf Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Derby Wharf Trail, located in Salem, Massachusetts, is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the local ecosystem. Designated as a conservation area, the trail is actively managed to protect and restore the natural habitats found within its boundaries. The conservation status of the Derby Wharf Trail is of utmost importance to ensure the long-term survival of the diverse plant and animal species that call this area home.

Efforts to conserve the Derby Wharf Trail focus on maintaining the integrity of the surrounding wetlands, woodlands, and coastal areas. These habitats provide critical nesting, feeding, and resting grounds for a variety of bird species, including migratory birds. The conservation status of the trail ensures that these habitats remain undisturbed, allowing for the natural processes of the ecosystem to continue uninterrupted.

Conservation measures also aim to control invasive species that can threaten the native flora and fauna of the Derby Wharf Trail. Invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed and phragmites, are actively managed to prevent their spread and protect the biodiversity of the area. Additionally, efforts are made to minimize human impact on the trail, including the implementation of regulations to prevent littering, disturbance of wildlife, and unauthorized activities that could harm the conservation status of the area.

Overall, the conservation status of the Derby Wharf Trail reflects the commitment to preserving the natural beauty and ecological significance of this unique coastal habitat. Through ongoing management and protection efforts, the trail continues to provide a haven for wildlife and a place for visitors to appreciate and connect with nature.

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