ROCKPORT — "My favorite part was,’’ 4-year-old Nico Easton Obando was saying before his older brother, Santi, took control of the trail and the conversation. “My favorite part was throwing the rocks,’’ interjected Santi, 7.
It was the end of a three-hour adventure at Halibut Point for the Obando-Easton family of Arlington. But the thrill of the afternoon was still in the boys’ eyes and voices.
“My favorite part was,’’ Nico said, when prompted again, “was building a house with rocks.’’
There are dozens of "favorite parts” of this park that juts both majestically and invitingly from the far reaches of Cape Ann into the Atlantic Ocean: the archway of stunted black cherry trees over the trail that wends next to a centerpiece quarry; the twisting Trustees of Reservation trail that connects the upper quarry to the stony ledges along the shore; the organic and ever-changing garden of rocks that kids — and adults — transform into cairns, abstract objects, or, if Nico’s in charge, houses; the ceaseless tumble and crash of waves against rock; the ocean’s castaways tucked into the crannies of the ledges; the stunning views, commandeered both from across the upper quarry toward the sea and from a dramatic promontory between the waters of the quarry and of the ocean.
For Jen Leary of Belmont, the attraction in these unique times is more elemental to the spirit. “I love the ocean,’’ she said, stretched out on a cool slab of rock in the spring sun. “I just want to get some peace.’’
Halibut Point is a splicing of a state park, Trustees land, and a sliver of coastal ledges and rocks offered by the town of Rockport. The parcels are integrated seamlessly, so the Trustees section is still open, despite the closure of the organization’s other properties across the state.
If you prefer a more peaceful, contemplative walk, take the trails that run to the left of the quarry, to the sea. Most visitors prefer the Trustees trail on the right, leading to the tide pools and ledges. It is spring, so expect to step around some mud. Halibut Point is spacious enough that social distancing is not a chore.
And if you are interested in learning about how this spot of idyllic beauty fit into the history of the broad-shouldered business of quarrying, download a self-guided walking tour pamphlet from the state’s website; it offers information about nine marked signposts around the quarry.
Its granite was prized the hemisphere over until the industry was felled by the Great Depression. Stones from Cape Ann quarries can be found in the streets of Havana and Valparaiso, Chile, in addition to scores of communities across the states.
Halibut Point is rife with reminders of that industry, from “dead men” iron staples that anchored massive derricks, to the “grout pile,’’ a mountain of discarded granite that forms part of the promontory point.
This part-dump, part-overlook is what most holds the majesty of this place, capturing in sweeping views both the tempestuous sea and stoic rock.
For Dr. Aura Obando, Nico’s and Santi’s mother, such scenes are among her favorite parts of Halibut Point.
"I loved the views along the rocky beach and the breeze and just getting fresh air,'' said Obando, who has been working long, fretful hours with dwindling personal protection on the front lines of the COVID-19 war. Affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, she is the family team medical director at Boston Health Care for the Homeless.
"There’s nothing like the reinvigorating effect of the outdoors. Halibut Point is a great kid hike with so much to see and do; it was also great to see my kids enjoy it so much!''
Michael Bailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org