Signup for our Newsletter
Receive our latest updates by signing up for our newsletter!
Total Acres: 59
Year Conserved: 1972
An extensive network of protected fields, forest and trails along the Ipswich River provides a great place to discover how forest and field management affect the landscape. The forest in the front area is organically rich bottomland that supports mature swamp white oak, red oak and red maple, including some trees with a diameter of nearly four feet.
Prior to European settlement, Indigenous people living in this area used the Ipswich River to canoe to their fishing grounds in Ipswich Bay and their fishing camps and clam flats around Plum Island Sound. An archaeological survey conducted by Ripley Bullen in the 1940s identified 68 settlement sites along the Ipswich River in terrain similar to that found in the Julia Bird Reservation.
One of the most mature forests in Essex County, Julia Bird is comprised of flood plain forest with large red oak and eastern hemlocks that benefited from a forest thinning project in the 1990s. A meandering and lovely hemlock-shaded stretch of frontage on the Ipswich River provides a beautiful overlook of the river and relief on a hot summer day. In winter, the forest is a great destination to cross-country ski and snowshoe. The two fields on the property are managed differently – one is mowed as a polo practice field and the other is used as an equestrian carriage driving practice area.
Adjacent to Appleton Farm, it is part of an extensive network of protected open space along the Ipswich River throughout Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham and Topsfield.
1.7 miles of easy terrain.
Julia Appleton Bird (1894-1982) and her children donated the 59-acre portion of the Bird estate to Greenbelt in 1972. She was the daughter of Randolph Morgan Appleton and Helen Kortwright Mixter Appleton. She married Charles Sumner Bird Jr. in 1917, just before he began his service in World War I. A long history of equestrian use continues on the reservation today.
The forest at the trailhead is organically rich bottom land that supports mature swamp white oak, red oak and red maple. This area is home to breeding birds that prefer a mature forest canopy. Many linden trees and ferns line the path, and a few birches stand near the polo field. Along the river, eastern hemlocks shade steep banks.
Vernal pools form in spring, bringing forth salamanders, nymphs and fairy shrimp. In summer, the mature forest canopy is alive with a variety of birds. Standing dead snags
also provide habitat for woodpeckers. In fall, green darner dragonflies stage for migration. Look for fisher and otter tracks at the river’s edge.
Waldingfield Road, Ipswich. (Opens in Google Maps)
Latitude 42.656958, Longitude -70.851639
From Route 128/Exit 45/Route 1A North: Go north on Route 1A. In 7.0 miles, turn left onto Waldingfield Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.3 miles ahead on the right, just after the railroad bridge.
From intersection of Route 133 and Route 1A in Ipswich: Go south/east on Route 133/1A. In 4.0 miles, bear right to continue on Route 1A south. In 0.9 miles after Route 133 and Route 1A split, turn right onto Waldingfield Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.3 miles ahead on the right, just after the railroad bridge.
Just beyond the railway bridge, turn right into a small turnoff. Parking is limited to 2 cars.
Total Acres: 59
Year Conserved: 1972
82 Eastern Avenue
PO Box 1026
Essex, MA 01929
e. Contact by Email
Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider