Getting outside offers many benefits for our physical and mental health, and Ipswich open space and conservation areas allow us to enjoy the outdoors, while being able to practice safe physical distancing (more than 6 ft apart). The town owns hundreds of acres of undeveloped open space with miles of passive, non-motorized recreational trails for walking, birding, cross country skiing, biking, horseback riding, etc for public enjoyment. Some of these trails connect to adjoining public and private properties, also with trail access. A brief narrative and trail maps are below of properties to visit. Experience the healing effects of being out in nature by exploring these open space properties, and if you can't get there in person, click on the Story Map or Virtual Tour links to the left for other ways to virtually visit Ipswich's natural wonders. Enjoy!
*When visiting outdoor recreational areas in Ipswich remember to abide by current Covid 19 State and local policies. If a parking area is full or open space areas are crowded, please find another area to visit and come back another time. Wear a face mask, keep a minimum of 6 feet apart from anyone not in your "bubble" and respect the health and well being of all while we navigate through this pandemic.
Linebrook Woods Conservation Area-Town owned 275 Linebrook Road Linebrook Woods Conservation Area is located at 275 Linebrook Road immediately west of Marini Farms. Parking is on the south side of Linebrook Road in the Willowdale State Forest parking area. The trailhead is across Linebrook Road from the parking area, and passes through two of Marini’s farm fields before entering the woods meandering through wooded uplands and wetlands. Note that the first portion of the trail across from the parking area is along the edge of Marini’s ag field, and during the spring it is often wet and mucky as Marini prepares that field for planting. Wear appropriate footwear and watch your step through this first stretch of the trail. You may want to stay closer to the pond side of the route here. This trail is part of the most northern section of the Bay Circuit Trail located in Ipswich before it connects to Rowley in the north. The trail is relatively flat, and wooden boardwalks constructed by Ipswich Bay Circuit Trail Committee volunteers in 2006 go over three stream crossings along the route. The property boundary with the Ipswich Country Club, just past the third boardwalk crossing, is approximately a half mile north from the parking area. Trail users can turn around at this point, or continue north along the Bay Circuit Trail and connect to the trail network around the Town’s reservoir lands. Alternatively, returning to the parking area trail users can continue south into Willowdale State Forest and the network of trails located there.
Linebrook Woods Conservation Area Trail Map
Pony Express Fields-Town owned 24 Candlewood Road Pony Express Fields are the most recent success story of the Town’s Open Space Bond Authorization. The Town, in partnership with Greenbelt and Mass Wildlife, protected 128 acres of fields, woods and wetlands on the property that was formerly operated as a polo pony training facility. The majority of the Town’s 28-acre portion of the property are athletic fields situated on the former polo fields. The remainder of the property are mostly agricultural hay fields and wooded wetlands. There is ample parking on the property. A short, level trail path runs east from the parking area between the athletic fields and hay fields, and connects to the 1-mile loop trail around the Greenbelt property and a spur trail onto the Mass Wildlife property. Bird watching is a highlight at these open space lands. Watch the video below to experience Pony Express Fields from a birds eye view. Pony Express Fields Trail Map
Please note, no dogs, horses or motorized recreational vehicles are allowed on the athletic playing fields. The hay fields are leased to a local farmer and are not accessible for recreation.
Turner Hill Trails-Private property 240 Topsfield Road
A public trail easement through the privately owned Turner Hill property is held by the Town and is open for public use. One trail offers year-round access, and runs from Topsfield Road north through the golf course and connects to Willowdale State Forest at the northern edge of the property. The trail runs along a former fire road, is relatively flat and passes through the golf course greens and short stretches of woods along the way. Part of the year-round trail is a westerly spur trail that splits from the north-south trail at approximately the halfway point, and continues through the residences and golf course development to the property’s western boundary (there is no further public trail access beyond this point). The total trail distance from Topsfield Road to Willowdale is approximately three quarters of a mile. There are also two seasonal trail sections that runs east-west primarily along the golf cart paths through the property. One starts in the adjoining Longmeadow Drive neighborhood at the far northeastern property boundary and connects up with the year round north-south trail. The other splits off from the north-south trail near the northern property boundary with Willowdale, and runs west toward the western property boundary. Both of these seasonal trails do not connect with trails at either end of the Turner Hill property boundary, and only link to the interior north-south trail. The seasonal trails are only accessible to the public when the golf course is closed for the season, which is typically December 1st through February 28th annually, but may be extended depending on golf course opening and closing dates. All trails are marked and maintained by Turner Hill Golf, and there is public parking for trail access on the property. Follow signs to the right after entering the Turner Hill property off of Topsfield Road. The parking area is on the left side of Stonebridge Road past the golf course maintenance barn and before the tennis courts.
Dow Brook Conservation Area-Town owned 326 High Street Dow Brook Conservation Area is a gateway conservation property providing quality wildlife habitat and water resource protection within a regional greenway of over 3,000 acres. Trail access is a corridor connecting a vast trail network that offers a key link to the Bay Circuit Trail, and numerous opportunities for passive recreation throughout the seasons. The property contains a variety of habitat types including an extensive network of mostly wooded freshwater wetlands complemented by both deciduous and evergreen upland forest. Public access to the property is located in a parking area next to White Farms Ice Cream on High Street, near the Rowley town line. The parking area provides space for six vehicles, including a designated handicapped accessible space.
Dow Brook Conservation Area Trails Map
Great Neck Conservation Area-Clark Pond Overlook- Town owned 34 Clark Road
Great Neck Conservation Area’s 85.5 acres are divided into eight geographically separated parcels, the centerpiece of which is the 67.5 acre core parcel beginning at the fork of North Ridge and Little Neck Roads extending eastward toward Plum Island Sound. Public access is available at the Clark Pond overlook located at 34 Clark Road constructed by Town staff and volunteers to integrate into the natural landscape. It was opened to the public in the spring of 2011 and offers interpretive educational signage about the history of the pond and value of the pond for wildlife habitat. Visitors can enjoy wildlife observation from built-in benches along the platform overlooking the pond, with expansive vistas toward Plum Island in the Ipswich Bay and Cape Ann to the south. The overlook is handicapped accessible. As of this time, the other parcels that make up the Great Neck Conservation Area are not accessible to the public. Watch the video below to see the Great Neck Conservation Area and views of Ipswich Bay and Clark Pond from above.
Great Neck Conservation Area-Clark Pond Overlook Property Map
Shady Creek Conservation Area-Town owned At the end of Colonial Drive Cul-de-Sac The Shady Creek Conservation Area consists of forested uplands and wetlands, including over one‐half mile of frontage along the lower Ipswich River, providing critical habitat to a very wide variety of wildlife species. The property includes several vernal pools that sustain species of amphibians unable to breed in any other type of wetlands, as well as vistas and natural landscapes that fit in with the rural character within the town. Trailhead access to the Shady Creek Conservation Area is located at the end of Colonial Drive, with reserved parking on the west (right‐hand) side of the road immediately before the cul‐de‐sac turnaround. Please note that the MBTA commuter rail line traverses the property north to south so that the parcel located on the east side of the railroad tracks is not accessible on foot. At the information kiosk at the start of the trial there is a fairly steep descend down a series of steps built into slope, and then the short one way in and out trail is level and passes along wetlands that feed into the Ipswich river. There is a short extension of the path at the northern most end onto a trail easement through private land protected by a conservation restriction held by the Ipswich Conservation Commission. The trail easement loops back onto itself to return to the Shady Creek Conservation Area and back out to Colonial Drive.
Strawberry Hill-Town owned 56 Jeffrey’s Neck Road
This property offers two gentle out-and-back hiking trails. From the 6-car parking lot, the trail passes through grassland bird habitat before splitting at the first bench under the tree. To the left is the Bakers Island trail. The half mile Bakers Island trail crosses a private driveway-please respect our neighbors’ private property- and passes along the marsh to a vista point to views of the Eagle Hill River marshes. The Smith Island trail follows the main trail from the bench across a causeway to the grassy Smith Island for ¾ mile hike. Boots are encouraged for this property! For a virtual tour of the trails at Strawberry Hill that take you to vistas of the Eagle Hill River estuary, watch the video below.
Nichols Field-Town owned 60 Labor-in-Vain Road
Nichols Field is an open grassland that has a small parking lot and a quarter mile long loop trail that brings you around the property. This gentle hike is perfect for little ones with beautiful views of the Ipswich River and a short spur trail that takes you down to the river’s edge along the rocky shoreline. Watch the video below to see what the walk around Nichols Field is like from above.
You can also experience Nichols Field through a virtual tour by watching this video, created by volunteer Tess O'Connor, on the Open Space Program homepage: Nichols Field Virtual Tour
Turkey Hill Conservation Area-Town owned 31 Pineswamp Road
Turkey Hill Conservation area has a 1-mile wooded loop trail that leads towards the top of Turkey Hill, one of the highest undeveloped hilltops in Ipswich. This is a more rugged hike through a beautiful part of town, with a fairly steep incline along the first ¼ mile, that becomes a more gradual ascent until you reach the highest elevation point about half way around the loop. There is a self-guided informational tour with 10 points of interest along the trail that describe some of the features of the landscape you are walking through. All you need is a smart phone to scan the QR code posted in the information kiosk and along the route. There is a four-car parking lot at the trailhead.
Turkey Hill Conservation Area Trails Map
There is a quarter mile spur to the west off of the Turkey Hill trail. If the open space purchase is approved at Town Meeting on October 17, 2020, the spur will connect to the large trail system at the adjacent Kamon Farm. This trail connection would open up miles of trail connections to the public. To learn more, view the Kamon Farm webpage on the Town of Ipswich website.
Important to Remember
Dogs are welcome on Town owned property trails, but must be leashed at all times and dog waste picked up and disposed of. Most Town properties have dog waste stations for your convenience. Familiarize yourself with the importance of picking up after your dog and keeping it on leash every time you enjoy the outdoors together by reading this information.
It’s always recommended to take a map, either paper or digital, when going out on the trails. There are lots of free trail apps you can download on your phone including, Alltrails, Gaia GPS and Hiking Project to name a few. This trail map is an overview map of all public trails and Town open space properties with trail access. Also stay on trails to avoid trespassing on private property and coming in contact with potentially poisonous plants and insects commonly found in Ipswich.
Open space properties and trails are open from sunrise to sunset and motorized recreational vehicles of any kind are prohibited unless required for handicapped access. For a complete list of regulations view Open Space Rules and Regulations.
Additional Property & Trails Information
This ArcGIS Story Map provides some additional detail of Town public access properties and displays all Ipswich public trails. Information can also be viewed on the Town of Ipswich Facilities webpage about trails and public access properties.
Properties Protected Through the Open Space Bond
Through the inception of the Open Space Bond Program in early 2000, the town has protected nearly 900 acres of land in Ipswich. Many are open to the public for passive recreation, however not all. The projects that have been completed through the program include both fee owned land, which the town has permanent ownership and control of, as well as Conservation Restrictions and/or trail easements where the land is still privately owned, but some portion of the property is permanently restricted from development, and in some instances limited public access is allowed through an easement. Read descriptions here of the completed Open Space Bond projects.