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Ipswich River in Massachusetts

Trip Overview

The Ipswich River can be divided into three sections Lower, Middle Upper, and Upper. On a sunny cold day in November my kayak partner Darrin and I decided to go down the Upper portion of the Ipswich. We had taken the Lower portion out to the sea earlier in the spring and had explored the Middle in August.

It was now time to tackle the Upper. We parked at Ipswich River Park and prepared to let in by the boat launch. It was about thirty degrees as we set off at about 11AM. Time becomes a factor as daylight savings time is no longer in effect. We parked our retrieval car at our designated end point at the Middleton Public Canoe launch. The trip was anticipated to take 4hrs.

As we set off it was smooth paddling and there were few obstructions. We encountered deer drinking by river's edge but most wildlife was gone for the winter. We tried to remove as many obstructions as time would allow. There was a lot of blockage down the river. The river itself was quite exciting and on a lovely Fall day it was very peaceful. We had to get out of the river several times due to waterfalls both natural and man made, there is a huge concrete water fall on the border with Middleton. Additionally there is construction taking place in Middleton that has resulted in earthen dams blocking travel. You will have to get out and drag yourself over these obstacles.

We encountered several conditions that were seasonal: icing of paddles, kayaks, and gear, cold weather and lack of sunlight. Putting these aside if you plan to go down the Upper Ipswich you will have a challenging adventure. I am planning to go down the river this spring to check conditions. If you see me say "Hi" I am the guy with the Necky.

Water level and temperature are very important in trip planning. Portage during low water levels is common making waterproof boots important. When the river is high you can easily make your way over obstructions.


Ipswich River Park has a free parking lot and a easy access canoe/kayak launch. There is also a restroom facility by the soccer field.


From North or South on rte 93 take the exit for rte 62. Follow east on rte 28 then pitch up rte62 at lights. (Left turn). You will then see signs for Ipswich River Park.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip