Bradley Palmer State Forest
Bradley Palmer State Park is one of two large DCR properrties in Topsfield.. The Park's 721 acres offer many miles of smooth easy fire roads, a few steep hills and some excellent singletrack trails. There's also a secluded traffic free paved road that's perfect for kids on small bikes.
A few of the singletrack trails are challenging including some of those that run along the Ipswich River. My favorite singletrack trail is a downhill that runs from just north of #17 on the map to #11. It's a long flowing singletrack trail made by North Shore NEMBA volunteers.
You'll notice that this is horse country as you'll ride past many "gates" designed for jumping.
A featured part of bradley palmer is the Willowdale Estate which can be rented for weddings or special occasions.
The riding here is for the most part pretty mellow. The fireroads and most of the woods roads are perfect for family exploration or for newer riders. They don't lack challenging sections, but those challenges are spaced out pretty well. The views from the open fields which top Bradley Palmer's hills are quite breathtaking, though not well captured by a camera.
You'll have a good time exploring Bradley Palmer and if you don't get enough riding there, try Willowdale State Forest which is located right across the street. To get there take the footbridge at #3.
The DCR's Website has a good MAP. There's no camping or swimming at Bradley Palmer, though the kayaking in the Ipswich River is excellent. Also check out the "Discover Hamilton" trail MAP.
The Ashbury Street Bridge near the park's entrance is out and will be for some time. There are directions around it on the DCR site. Additionally there are good places to park along Topsfield Road. You'd enter Bradley Palmer from Willowdale State Forest on the Bridge at #3.
You can also park at Willowdale Meadow an Essex County Greenbelt property that's also on Topsfield Rd.
By Bill Boles