• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Island Facts: Grape Island

Wander peaceful trails, explore the rocky beaches, and enjoy camping in wooded campsites.

 
Today, 54-acre Grape Island is a wildlife haven. Wild berries can be found in abundance, providing food for a wide variety of birds. The island almost doubles in size to 101 acres at low tide. Grape Island also features camp sites, picnic areas, wooded trails and guided walks. Special events include "wild edibles" tours.
 
Short History
The island may have been cultivated prior to European colonization. Euro-Americans farmed and grazed the island for three hundred years, up until the 1940s. Since the abandonment of agricultural use in the 1940s, the natural succession of vegetation has created a wooded and shrubby landscape. Grape never hosted any military fortifications, though in 1775 it was a site of a skirmish over hay during the War of Independence known as the "Battle of Grape Island" or "Grape Island Alarm."
 

General Information
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is managed by Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR).

Agency Designation: Harbor Islands Reservation
Current Use: Park purposes
Harbor Location: Hingham Bay
Acreage: 101 (upland acres: 54.03; intertidal acres: 46.53)
Highest elevation: 70 feet
Longitude: 42° 16' 10.1" North
Latitude: 70° 55' 00.07" West
Miles from Long Wharf: 10

 
Visitor Facilities & Services
Hours:
9:00am - sunset
Piers/Docks:
Yes
Visitor season:
Summer
Boat slips:
0
Visitor staff:
Yes
Moorings:
0
Guided tours:
Yes
Park boats:
Park shuttle boat
Lifeguards:
No
Car access:
No
Flush toilets:
No
Campsites:
10 (capacity ea: 4)
Composting toilets:
Yes
Group campsites:
1 (capacity ea: 25)
Picnic areas:
Yes
Camping capacity:
65
Refreshments:
No
Cooking grills:
Yes
Drinking water:
No
Walking trails:

Yes

On-island Circulation: Approximately one mile of mowed grass trails traverse the island.

 

Natural History Overview
Vegetation
One willow tree survives from the island's early twentieth century agricultural use. Early successional tree and shrub species predominate on the drumlins: staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), gray birch (Betula populifolia), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides). The island has an abundance of berries: blackberry, dewberry, raspberry (Rubus sp.) blueberry (Vaccinium), huckleberry, and elderbrry (Sambucus canadensis). A reconfiguration of the island over the past ten years by wave action has reduced the intrusion of saltwater into the island's marshy lowland which contains salt tolerant species: salt-spray rose (Rosa rugosa), cordgrass, purple loosestrife, honeysuckle and seaside goldenrod. A arbor with grapes (Vitus sp.) was installed by DEM near the pier. Vegetation is managed on paths, drumlin summits, and campsites for circulation and views.

Wildlife
Overview survey in progress.

Geology
The island is composed of two drumlins, reaching an elevation of 70 feet, and connected by a marshy lowland. Tidal sand spits extend from the west end towards Weymouth Neck (Webb State Park) and from the east end towards Slate Island.

Water Features
A stone-walled well is located on the southeastern side of the island near an enormous black willow tree. Historic photographs suggest that a second well is located in the central wet area of the island, closer to the building foundation, however it has not been found.

Views and Vistas
From the tops of the east and west drumlins, there are excellent views of the Blue Hills, Downtown Boston, Weymouth Neck, Hingham, Hough's Neck, Hull, and other islands including Bumpkin, Nut, Peddocks, Sheep, Slate, and Worlds End.

 

Structures
Buildings

  • House foundation
  • Clivus Mulstrum toilet (2)

Fortifications

  • None

Other Structures

  • Pier
  • Stone well
  • Benches
  • Interpretive signs

Did You Know?