After a couple years of traveling in a plastic armada of kayaks on paddle trips with various groups in Florida and the Northeast, my vintage Grumman aluminum canoe had the pleasure of floating along with five other canoes on a recent voyage down the Ipswich River with members of the Boston Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. There were even two other old Grummans along.
Just 30 miles from Boston, the Ipswich in and around the Boston suburb of Topsfield meanders through woods and swamps, surrounded by two state parks and the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a nice ride, pleasantly narrow and twisty, with a helpful current.
The good news is that because the river has long been a source of drinking water for the many communities in its watershed, the water quality has been kept reasonably high. The bad news is that because it has long been a source of drinking water for the many communities in its watershed, it gets sucked nearly dry in portions of its 35-mile length quite often. See the Ipswich River Watershed Association website for more details about protecting the river.
The whole area is steeped in Colonial history of course, but the bit I found most interesting is that it was a hotbed of witchcraft and witch trials in the late 1600’s. The infamous Salem is now a part of nearby Danvers. And, probably unrelated, a member of the fifth generation of the Smiths of Topsfield, Joseph Smith Jr., founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the 1800’s.