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I had a really nice paddle this past weekend on the Ipswich River. We started our day arriving at 8am at Foote Brothers Canoe in Ipswirch MA. Foote Brothers has a shuttle service where for $10 they will shuttle you and your kayak about 9 miles upstream to Salem Road in Topsfield. Our kayaks were secured to the trailer and we took a short drive to Topsfield and were in the water by 8:30.
Salem Road - Put In
The put in on Salem Road is pretty good. There is a gentle slope down to the water and plenty of room to pull of to the side of the road. Not sure if parking is allowed there but is was as good a place as any for us to launch. The first mile of the trip takes you through a fairly wooded area with the Topsfield Fairgrounds on your left side. You will pass under bridges for Route 1 and Route 97. A bit after the 1 mile point the Salem Beverly Waterway Canal forks off to the right. Apparently this canal was built in 1917 to provide water to Beverly and Salem Massachusetts. Stay left at the fork to continue into the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary.
Canadian Geese and goslings
The Wildlife Sanctuary is by far some of the nicest area that I have paddles. In the first 3 miles of our paddle we saw at least half-dozen Canadian Geese with goslings, Three or Four beaver lodges and well as a beaver. We also saw a large black snake and Numerous turtles. The birds were plentiful as well, we saw many Great Blue Heron and Egret and many other untold number of bird species. The paddle through the Wildlife Sanctuary lasts for another 4 miles where you enter what looked like some farmland and/or privately owned land. This section lasts for another 3 miles until you enter the final leg of the paddle through the Bradley Palmer State Park and Willowdale State forest. The last few miles of the paddle takes you back to Foote Brothers Canoe.
Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary
Bradley Palmer State Park
Total length of this trip is about 9 miles. The guys at foot brothers told us it would take about 4 hours to complete the trip, but it took us three hours. There was a pretty good current pushing us along so that helped a bit. We were our pretty early so we didn't see too many fellow paddlers until the last third of our trip. From what I hear this is a very popular river for canoeing and kayaking but it was fairly quiet this past weekend. As an additional aid for boaters there are markers along the river to help chart your progress. The markers start with a letter representing the town you are in and a number to chart progress. These numbers so not represent mile. The marker we started at around T77 and we ended at I0.
Take Out at Foote Brothers Canoe
After finishing my paddle I wanted to catch the shuttle and take another run immediately, it was that nice of a paddle. It helped that it was a beautiful day but this is a river that I will definitely be visiting again and again.