Island Facts: Lovells Island
A rocky swimming beach, pine woods, and the remains of a fort characterize Lovells Island.
A favorite camping island, 62-acre Lovells has trails that pass by dunes and woods, picnic areas, an unsupervised swimming beach, and the remains of Fort Standish. Low tide exposes an additional 71 acres, for a total size of 120 acres.
Agency Designation: Harbor Islands Reservation
Visitor Facilities & Services
On-island Circulation: Approximately one mile of broken asphalt roads traverse the island. Mowed grass paths and shoreline walking are necessary to tour all of the gun batteries.
Natural History Overview
The oldest tree on the island may be the stump of a horsechestnut with a cluster of viable stems. Most of the planted species date to the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps attempted to reestablish a natural forest on the island, planting poplar, pine, spruce, oak, and rose. Much of this was cleared when the fort was reactivated in the 1940s. Left to recover after the war, the island is now characterized by over fifty years of natural succession of vegetation on a disturbed site with remnant patches of stands of poplar, pine and spruce. Successional species include staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), black cherry, choke cherry, apple (Malus sp.), and gray birch (Betula populifolia). Common shrubs include bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), beach plum, raspberry (Rubus sp.), Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) and saltspray rose (Rosa rugosa). The wet meadow area was altered by fill during military construction. Phragmites covers most of the area while a small area contains native marsh species (Spartina patens, Juncus gerardii, Salicornia and Limonium). Dunes on the north and south shores are vegetated with beachgrass. There is minimal poison ivy on the island, located in Battery Terrill.
Survey in progress.
Lovells is composed of a wet meadow and three low connected drumlins: the southeast head, Ram's Head at the northwest end, and the central drumlin, which rises to an elevation of 79 feet. The island is surrounded by a rockstrewn shoreline with the exception of the northeast side where there is a long section of gravel, sand and shell beach. A half mile-long dune extends along the southern shore and a short dune is located on the northern shore. A constructed seawall and fortifications have altered the shape and topography of portions of the island.
The remains of a well over a small seep, constructed during the period of military use, are located in an poplar grove on the central drumlin. The primary source of fresh water for the military was water pumped from an off-island source. Further study required.
Views and Vistas
From the central drumlin there are views to Boston and the islands in the middle harbor including Deer, Long, Gallops, Rainsford, and Georges. From the swimming beach, gun batteries and southeast head there are views to the outer islands and Boston Light.
Did You Know?
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is one of the very few places in the world where sea drumlins, glacially-formed mounds, may be found. They were formed by retreating glaciers about 15,000 years ago. More...