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A trailhead leads to extensive trails that crisscross under a deep forest canopy, offering bikers, hikers and equestrians access to thousands of acres of protected land.
Located in the heart of Willowdale State Forest, the property offers forested upland, early successional meadow, freshwater wetlands, and a certified vernal pool. Teeming with wildlife, Willowdale Meadow sits within 100 yards of a paddle launch on the banks of the Ipswich River.
Willowdale State Forest was an Indigenous landscape where Algonquians who came here hunted white-tailed deer and gathered prized feathers of the red-tailed hawk. They also fished in the Ipswich River and its tributaries. They caught eels, trout, and bass in Teal Pond and in winters fished for Tomcod, or Frostfish, in Gravelly Brook.
From the parking area, enter the field and turn right off the main fire road up a small hill and along the fence line. As you cross the fence line, you will pass into Willowdale State Forest.
Once you enter the woods, bear right at the first intersection. Heading right will take you to the larger Willowdale State Forest, where you can explore more terrains, and even access another Greenbelt property, Willowdale Mill in Hamilton.
If you go left, you will notice that the trail runs along a steep slope to the right. This trail loops you back to the Willowdale Meadow property. Once you cross the fence, stay left and follow the trail back to the first intersection after you crossed into the woods. To return to the parking area, head right here and follow the trail back to where you started. If you are up to more exploration, you can walk up the main fire road to the hill toward the back of the field.
A small open meadow greets visitors. The adventurous will find a wooded knoll and wetland deeper into the property, but most will gain access into the protected forests and wetlands of Willowdale State Forest.
Deer often greet dawn or dusk visitors, and red-tailed hawks are common soaring over the open meadow. Wetlands and vernal pools exist and offer important habitat for salamanders, frogs, toads and other wetland-dependent species.
Latitude 42.658734, Longitude -70.907159
From intersection of Route 1 and Ipswich Road in Topsfield:
Go east on Ipswich Road. Trailhead and parking are 1.6 miles ahead on the left.
Parking is available on the side of Ipswich Road, Topsfield.
From intersection of Route 1A/133 and Market Street in Ipswich Center:
Go west on Market Street, which becomes Topsfield Road. Trailhead and parking are 4.1 miles ahead on the right. (Note: Topsfield Road becomes Ipswich Road just before the trailhead and parking lot.)
82 Eastern Avenue
PO Box 1026
Essex, MA 01929
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Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider