Canoeing on the Ipswich River, Ipswich & Topsfield, MA

Addie getting ready to go canoeing on the Ipswich River.Location: Ipswich River, Ipswich & Topsfield, MA
Date: September 17, 2012

Distance: Approx. 4 miles roundtrip
Our Canoeing Time: 3 hours roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy

I must admit, despite having rowed for over 20 years, I only have been in a canoe a handful of times. When our friend Beth suggested we spend a day paddling down the Ipswich River, Kendra and I jumped at the chance to take Addie on her first canoe ride. When we arrived to pick up Beth, she had a great surprise for us – our friends Tina’s daughter Kelly, whom Addie adores.

After stopping for a quick breakfast at the Good Day Cafe in North Andover, we drove a short 30 minutes to Foote Brothers Canoe & Kayak Rentals in Ipswich, MA. For just $25 per canoe for a full-day rental, we snagged two sleek silver canoes, life jackets, and seat pads. Foote Brothers has a dock on site (which is also free to the public as a launch site for their personal canoes and kayaks), as well as a free shuttle if you wish to start further up the river. With 30 miles of navigable water, the Ipswich River is an incredible destination for canoeing and kayaking!

We loaded up our canoes with extra-layers, towels, and lunch. After observing some of the other folks canoeing, we will bring a small cooler next time too!

Getting ready to canoe on the Ipswich River!

The water was beautiful – flat and calm, with no current. Addie sat in the stern of the canoe with me, while Kendra sat up front. Though she had fun hanging onto the crossbar, she eventually moved up to the bow with Kendra, which she loved because she could stand up and see everything around her. As we paddled, we found an abundance of turtles and dragonflies.

Kelly and Beth paddling down the Ipswich River.

Kelly and Beth paddling down the Ipswich River.

Addie and Mama canoeing on the Ipswich River! Mommy and Addie canoeing on the Ipswich River.

One of the many turtles we saw on the Ipswich River.

One of the many turtles we saw on the Ipswich River.

Lily pads on the Ipswich River.

Soon after we left the dock, we entered Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, MA. It was gorgeous! The river wound its way through marshy lands and lily pads. We navigated over fallen trees and under bridges. After about an hour, we decided to stop for lunch. Pulling our canoes onto land, we climbed a small embankment to a picnic table just on the shore, spread out a towel, and had a wonderful feast! Addie particularly liked dipping her pretzels into Beth’s avocado hummus.

Lunch on the bank of the Ipswich River.

On the way back to the dock, Addie spent some time resting under Kendra’s feet – we made a tent over her head with my fleece jacket to shade her eyes from the sun. We docked about 30 minutes later (though not before Kelly and Beth crushed us in a race), and after putting away the canoes, we topped off our day with ice cream and naps!

Directions to Foote Brothers:

From BOSTON and Points South: Take Route 95 North to Exit 50. (Route 1 North).

From Points North: Take Route 95 South to Exit 53. (Route 97 South). Follow Route 97 south to Route 1. Go left onto Route 1 North.

Once on Route 1 North: Continue straight past the intersection with Route 97 in Topsfield. About 1.5 mile after Route 97, turn right at light on Ipswich Road. You’ll see a sign at the Ipswich Road intersection for Bradley Palmer State Park. Continue straight on Ipswich Road (past Bradley Palmer turn) for about 2.5 miles. You’ll see a small sign on the right for Foote Brothers. There is a long wooden fence and generally several cars parked along the road. Parking is available on both sides of the road

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at

, , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to Canoeing on the Ipswich River, Ipswich & Topsfield, MA

  1. Janeiack September 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    What a lucky girl Addie is. Thank you for opening her eyes and ears to nature.


  1. Camping, Hiking, and Canoeing with Teens: Harold Parker State Forest, Andover, MA | Adventurous Moms - April 27, 2013

    […] long before Nate and I were demonstrating how to properly handle canoes! A few of the kids had been canoeing with us on a previous trip, but for most of them, it was their first time. Any trepidation gave way once we hit the water and […]

  2. Hiking: Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield, MA | Adventurous Moms - July 22, 2013

    […] parking lot led us straight over a beautiful wooden footbridge crossing the Ipswich River. Several canoes were passing under as we walked over, which prompted the kids to stop for a better look. They instantly decided our […]

  3. Learning to Canoe with the Appalachian Mountain Club | Adventurous Moms - December 25, 2013

    […] forward twenty years, and I have discovered canoeing. Kind of like rowing, (only less tippy and you can bring food in the boat), canoeing is quickly […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: