Ipswich River, Mass Audubon’s largest sanctuary, offers more than 10 miles of interconnecting trails that invite you to explore the forests, meadows, and wetlands. Canoe along eight miles of the Ipswich River that run through the sanctuary and camp on Perkins Island, located a half-mile up the river (members can rent canoes from May through October).
Members can also rent a cabin that is conveniently located close to the sanctuary’s office and program facilities and sleeps four.
In April, listen for the chorus of American toads and pickerel frogs. Watch for river otters, painted turtles, and great blue herons at various times throughout the year. Climb the drumlin and esker, landscape features created by a glacier 15,000 years ago. Huge rocks and exotic trees and shrubs that were part of a former arboretum provide an adventurous walk along the Rockery Trail. This sanctuary has the following universally accessible facilities: Restrooms, Barn, Education Center.
The sanctuary has 10 miles of trails on 2,400 acres of land that are protected by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Start your visit at the information center, where you can pick up a trail map.
For families, the best trail leads to the Rockery Pond, a pile of enormous boulders. Continue around the pond (look for ducks, turtles, and frogs), then around the marsh, from which you can look over the wetlands of Topsfield and Ipswich.
In late May or June, the rhododendrons around the pond are breathtakingly memorable and pulsating with color.
NOTE: Don’t bring your dog; this is a wildlife sanctuary. Do bring bug repellent, especially during the spring.