Total Acres: 8.7
Year Conserved: 2007
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. Before being conserved, it was the only remaining privately owned, buildable parcel along a nearly mile-long stretch of Ipswich/Topsfield Road from Asbury Street in Topsfield to Foote Brothers Canoe near Winthrop Street in Ipswich. Willowdale Meadow was purchased through a partnership including Greenbelt, the Town of Topsfield, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and private donors.
The property consists of forested upland, early successional meadow, freshwater wetlands and a certified vernal pool. It is situated within 100 yards of the banks of the Ipswich River in Topsfield and bordered on three sides by the 2,200-acre Willowdale State Forest. The Willowdale State Forest and the adjacent Bradley Palmer State Park and Georgetown-Rowley State Forests form one of the largest tracts of protected land in Essex County. As a whole, this combined forest land contains a level of plant and animal bio diversity rarely found in the larger metropolitan Boston area. This area is very popular with hikers, bikers and equestrians.
Vernal pools, also called vernal ponds are temporary pools of water, which tend to reach their greatest depth in spring, due to snow melt. They are usually devoid of fish, and therefore allow the safe development of newly hatched amphibians, like tadpoles, toads and salamanders.
For more information about vernal pools, consult the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team at www.capeannvernalpond.org
Get Out and Hike or Bike
From the parking area, enter the field and turn right off the main fire road up a small hill and along the fence line. As you cross the fence line, you will pass into Willowdale State Forest. Once you enter the woods, bear right at the first intersection. Heading right will take you to the larger Willowdale State Forest, where you can explore more terrains, and even access another Greenbelt property (Willowdale Mill in Hamilton). If you go left, you will notice that the trail runs along a steep slope to the right. This trail loops you back to the Willowdale Meadow property. Once you cross the fence, stay left and follow the trail back to the first intersection after you crossed into the woods. To return to the parking area, head right here and follow the trail back to where you started. If you are up to more exploration, you can walk up the main fire road to the hill toward the back of the field.
Parking is available on the side of Ipswich Road, Topsfield.
From Route 1, take the exit for Ipswich Road in Topsfield, heading east in the direction of Ipswich. Drive 1.75 miles (If you have reached Gravelly Brook Road, you have gone too far. Park on the street, on the left.