Ipswich, MA 01938
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 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.
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.
- Family Friendly
- Pet Friendly
- Winter Sports
- Wildlife Viewing
- Natural Resources