Located 50 minutes north of Boston in the town of Ipswich, Willowdale State Forest is home to over 40 miles of trails. When linked up with the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest and Bradley Palmer State Forest, the network created provides hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers with a countless number of trails to discover.
What Makes It Great
The forest is split up into two parts, one on either side of Route 1, so be sure to check out both sections to get the most bang for your buck. Hood Pond can be found in the forest and is a great place for a swim after a long day's hike or bike. Fishing is also allowed on the pond, so bring you rod and reel if you fancy yourself an angler- just be sure to pick up your Massachusetts fishing license to avoid any trouble with the law.
An awesome feature that Willowdale has to offer is that the entire forest is outlined by double-tracks. Additionally, there are three color coded loops that riders can follow. Together, these two features make navigation around the forest straightforward, as riders can choose to ride any of the single-track offshoots, explore them, and then find themselves back on the double track to continue riding or to head back to the car.
Willdowdale is also great because of how few people frequent the forest and the vastness of the land between its borders. A sense of exploration and adventure is known to overcome riders throughout the park, a recurring feeling even those who ride here regularly can enjoy.
Who is Going to Love It
Although not known for its overly technical riding, Willowdale is a great place for beginner and intermediate level riders to practice their skills in a beautiful environment. Even though Willowdale is large in size, clocking in at over 2400 acres and over 40 miles of trails, the forest is relatively easy to navigate. The single-track is known for its smooth follow, which allows riders a chance to enjoy their surroundings and explore the many trails the forest has to offer. This forest allows for riders to come back again and again, without riding the same off-shoot trails in succession.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are no fees to worry about here and parking is a breeze.Take I-95 to Exit 50 to Route 1. Take Route 1 North heading towards Topsfield. Travel 4 miles to Ipswich Road. Take a right onto Ipswich Rd. Follow Ipswich Rd for approximately 2 miles. Ipswich Road will turn into Topsfield Rd once you are in Ipswich. There will be two turn outs on the right hand side for parking.
Note: There are no recreational facilities anywhere in the forest, so be sure to factor that into your agenda if you plan on being here for an extended period of time.