Willowdale State Forest

Willowdale State Forest
Linebrook Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
978-887-5931

Willowdale State Forest offers trail-use opportunities on 40 miles of trails and fishing and boating on 100 acre Hood Pond. There are fire roads great for hiking (good for joggers/strollers), and extensive single track for mountain biking. 

The eastern block of the Forest abuts Bradley Palmer State Park and the Ipswich River, and the Bay Circuit Trail winds through, connecting Bradley Palmer State Park to the south with Cleveland Farm State Forest to the West. Willowdale is a typical Essex County mixed-forest habitat with a combination of pine-oak-hickory upland and red maple swamp. There are also hemlock stands, and in the southwest corner near the intersection of Rt. 1 and East St. lies a large beaver marsh.

A great spot for birding, Willowdale 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 and (rarely) sharp-shinned 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. The beaver marsh has hosted nesting pied-billed grebes, least bitterns, great blue herons, wood ducks, and possibly hooded mergansers in recent years.

Willowdale Meadow

Willowdale Meadow is situated in the heart of Willowdale State Forest, which is a key element of the lower Ipswich River Conservation Corridor and part of the Ipswich River Greenbelt. The property consists of forested upland, early successional meadow, freshwater wetlands and a certified vernal pool. Visit Essex County Greenbelt's website to learn more about Willowdale Meadow.

 

 

Hours: 

Dawn to Dusk

Driving Directions: 

The forest lies on both sides of U.S. 1 in Ipswich. The larger and more accessible part is the eastern section. From Rt. 1 drive east on either Ipswich Rd. in Topsfield to enter the southern part of the forest or Linebrook Rd. in Ipswich to enter the northern part. Both these intersections have traffic lights. On Ipswich Rd. drive about 2 miles to the Topsfield/Ipswich town line and park beside the road at obvious pulloffs. Willowdale State Forest is on the left; Bradley Palmer State Park on the right. Trails go in all directions; trail maps for both properties are available at the headquarters of BPSP off Asbury St in Topsfield, which you will pass on your right as you drive east on Ipswich Rd. On Linebrook Rd., which is about 2 miles north of Ipswich Rd. on Rt. 1, drive east about 1 mile to obvious pulloffs on the right opposite farm fields. Here too several trails lead into the forest.

Site Notes & Advisories: 

There are no developed recreational facilities at the Forest which exists as two separate parcels divided by Route 1. Viewing Information: Open year round for a variety of recreational activities. Hunting is allowed on the state forest property located west of route 1. Visitors to this area from October through December should wear blaze orange cap or vest for visibility. Statewide, hunting is prohibited on Sundays.

Flags: 

  • Family Friendly
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly

Categories: 

  • Birding
  • Winter Sports
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Natural Resources
  • Parks

Property Owner/Organization: 

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