Ipswich River, MA

Ipswich River is perfect for small day trips. The river has many turns and can sometimes require some team work to get around. What seems short on a map may actually be much longer on the river. Many parts of the river are rather unexciting and basically like canoeing through a suburban neighborhood with houses all around. However there are a few good spots that are quite remote.

The Ipswitch water level can varry drastically. In early spring the water can be so high that its possible to go canoeing down flooded streets. In 2010 the water was so high that we actually canoed over bridges that we normally go under. This high water level can also create dangerous rapids / choke points for water flow so please be careful. However during most times of the year the water level is low, and the current is slow. Slow enough to paddle back upstream without any real effort. This can be helpfull since it allows for quicker voyages without the need of parking two cars. The 4-5 hour journey through the sanctuary is highly recommended, although the distance is not that great since the river turns so many times it is still best to bring two cars unless you want to walk an hour back. I am not as familiar with the other parts of the river except that there are more houses making for a less relaxing trip.

The River is broken up into a few sections:
Upper: 15 Central St. North Reading till the Dam by Pine Rd. Middleton: This part of the river is a bit boring due to the lack of seclusion.
Middle Upper: 133 Maple St. Middleton till 4 Salem Rd. Topsfield: Expect to see plenty of turtles, birds and fish, you may also have to portage a few logs.
Wildlife Sanctuary: 4 Salem Rd. to 240 Topsfield Rd. Ipswich: The most secluded part of the river, many birds / wildlife.
Lower: From Ipswich Dam just after 240 Topsfield road to 18 Peatfield St. Ipswich: This part of the trip is rather plain, although still worth doing.

Each sections is perfect for a day trip. My favorite part of the Ipswich river is the wildlife sanctuary.

Trip: Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary

Start – at bridge of Salem St, Ipswitch. Take exist 51 off 95N
The photo below with the car is this bridge.

End – Anywhere along Ipswich Rd, after crossing Asbury St. There are multiple places to park. If you pass a canoe rental area you have gone too far. There is a dam there and you will have to get off before it.

Time- Takes between 4-6 hours depending on how much time you spend getting out and observing the wildlife. In the summer there can be many animals / wildlifes to see here.


Ipswich River Information:

General River Information
Ipswich River Map
Lower Ipswic River Info
Map with River Features
Ipswich River Trip report 1 Via Paddling.net
Ipswich River Trip report 2 Via Paddling.net
Ipswich River Trip report 3 Via Paddling.net
Ipswich River Trip report 4 Via Paddling.net

Trip: Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary
Ipswich River Start Location Map: There is free parking here for 5-6 cars and easy access to the water.

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Ipswich Camping Map: This is a designated camping island, you will see a sign and there will be easy access to the shore.

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Ipswich River End Location Map: There are plenty of spots to park along the road; as soon as you see the river, just find a spot. It takes about 3.5-4 hrs to canoe here since the river is so windy. If you stop to relax and have fun this trip can easily take 5 hrs. This section of the river really makes for a fantastic trip.

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Trip: Upper Middle


Ipswich River Start Location Map: There is good parking here.

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Ipswich River Finish Location Map: Same spot as the start of Wildlife Sanctuary Trip.

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Trip: Lower


Ipswich River Start Location Map: This is one of the two bridges you can start at. The other bridge is just up the river.

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Ipswich River Finish Location Map: Easy parking here.

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Trip: Upper section – Middleton


Ipswich River Start Location Map: There is good parking here.

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Ipswich River Middleton Dam: There are many places to get off before this dam, any bridge or park will work.

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Photos of the Ipswich River and the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary:

Ipswich River, MA

Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary

Ipswich River, MA

Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary

Ipswich River, MA

Broken bridge on Grand Wenham Canal.

Ipswich River, MA

Grand Wenham Canal at the entrance of the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ipswich River, MA

Parking at Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary start point.

Ipswich River, MA

A large snake found in the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ipswich River, MA

Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary

Ipswich River, MA

Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary


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