Lynn Woods Reservation: Dungeon Rock
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:Pennybrook Road, Lynn, MA
Hours:Reservation: dawn to dusk daily; Dungeon Rock tunnel: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, May through October
Fee: Free
Contact:; 781-477-7123

Bathrooms: At the ranger station by the main parking lot
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Lynn and Boston North;

Pirates, buried treasure, spirits, and a long, dark tunnel make for a great story and an adventurous hike.

Kids love searching for treasure near the Dungeon Rock cave.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

Lynn Woods Reservation is the second-largest municipal park in the United States, offering 30 miles of trails and three reservoirs in a 2,200-acre forest park. Bring your cross-country skis or snowshoes in winter. With so much space, you will feel like it is your own private winter wonderland. While all this makes Lynn Woods a beautiful place to visit, what will get the kids most excited is the story of Dungeon Rock and how it came to be called that.

To head to Dungeon Rock, start from the main entrance at Pennybrook Lane and take Jackson Path. (If you see picnic tables, then you know you are heading in the right direction.) Along the way, tell the kids the legend about the area, which goes like this: In 1658, a pirate ship sailed into Lynn Harbor and lowered a boat into the water with a chest onboard. British soldiers set off after the four pirates. Three were caught, but one escaped. The escapee, Thomas Veale, hid out in these woods, living in a cave for some time. One day, a rare earthquake hit the area and a piece of rock sealed up the cave, trapping Veale and the treasure. That was that for 200 years, until treasure hunters in the 1830s tried to blow up the rock to find the supposed loot. They had no luck. Then, in 1852, Hiram Marble, a spiritualist who believed he received a message from Veale’s ghost telling him to come to Dungeon Rock, bought 5 acres surrounding the cave. He and his family dug for years looking but also had no luck. Today, you can climb down the dark, slippery stairs into part of the tunnel that Marble blasted as he looked for the treasure.

There’s more to the story, which you can read about on the Friends of Lynn Woods website ( You will definitely need a flashlight to go down into the 174-foot-long tunnel. It’s cold, damp, slippery, wet, and spooky—in the best way. Tell kids to hold on to the railing, and remind all those more than 5 feet tall to watch their head.

Remember: If you miss visiting the cave during the set times it is open, you can still climb on top and around it! Keep your dog on a leash and clean up after it.

Plan B:

Breakheart Reservation (Trip 33) is nearby and, in summer, is a perfect place for a pond swim.

Where to Eat Nearby:

A few pizza places and convenience shops are on Walnut Street in Lynn.


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