Bradley Palmer State Park

photo of Bradley Palmer State Park
Asbury Street
Topsfield, MA 01983

This 721-acre former estate features pine needled paths, acres of sunny rolling meadows and spectacular rhododendrons which line old carriage roads. Peak bloom is usually in mid-June. Recreational opportunities include: accessible beaches, accessible Restrooms, Canoeing, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding Trails, Mountain Biking, Picnicking, Skiing (Cross-Country), and Walking Trails. Bradley Palmer was a noted attorney of the early 1900s who represented Sinclair Oil in the Teapot Dome Scandal and President Wilson at the Versailles Peace Conference after the First World War.


Dawn to Dusk

Driving Directions: 

From U.S. 1 take Ipswich Rd. in Topsfield east about 1.5 miles to Asbury St. on the right. Take Asbury St. a few hundred yards across the Ipswich River to park entrance on left.Parking is available at several obvious areas close to park headquarters. To enter from the east end of the park, continue on Ipswich Rd. (becomes Topsfield Rd. in Ipswich) to Mill Rd. on right about 2 miles past Asbury St. Turn right (south) on Mill Rd. (becomes Highland St. in Hamilton) and follow about 2 miles to parking area on right opposite Pingree School and just PAST what looks like an entrance, but which is posted no parking.

Site Notes & Advisories: 

Species of Note: Bradley Palmer contains most of the same species as Willowdale State Forest across the river in Ipswich. Like Willowdale, it is best for breeding birds, from May through July. Birds typical of transition-zone mixed forest nest here, such as barred and great horned owls, Cooper's hawks, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, eastern wood pewees, great crested flycatchers, veeries, wood and hermit thrushes, red-eyed vireos, eastern towhees, ovenbirds, black-throated green, pine, Canada, and black-and-white warblers, common yellowthroats, northern waterthrushes, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, red-breasted nuthatches, and brown creepers, in addition to the commoner woodland species. Habitats: Habitat is very similar to nearby Willowdale State Forest, except there is no large beaver marsh. Bradley Palmer State park is a typical Essex County mixed-forest habitat with a combination of pine-oak-hickory upland and red maple swamp. Miles of trails with numbered intersections allow access to all corners of this large, unfragmented forest. Size: 720 acres Special Recognition: Massachusetts Important Bird Area. Viewing Information: Bradley Palmer is very similar to Willowdale in its conditions and marked trails, but is more heavily used by horseback riders. There is also a paved road running through the park (closed to vehicles) that is used by many joggers and dog-walkers. The road makes the park very accessible to wheelchairs. There is also a children's playground along this road, so in general there are more people around in summer. Dogs must be on leash.


  • Family Friendly
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Self guided


  • Birding
  • Camping
  • Weddings
  • Historic Resources
  • Natural Resources
  • Parks

Property Owner/Organization: 

Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation
Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
Rail Trail
Rail Trail Trailhead