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Bradley Palmer State Park

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Area  2.918 kmĀ²
Phone  +1 978-887-5931
Bradley Palmer State Park
Address  40 Asbury St, Topsfield, MA 01983, USA
Management  Department of Conservation and Recreation
Similar  Willowdale State Forest, Ipswich River Wildlife S, Harold Parker State For, Sandy Point State Reservation, Maudslay State Park

Bradley palmer state park hamilton ma

Bradley Palmer State Park is a Massachusetts state park located in the towns of Hamilton and Topsfield. The park is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The park is based on a former estate willed to the state expressly for the use of its citizens on the death of its owner, Bradley Palmer. The Bradley Palmer mansion, former host to secret or high-level government conferences in the FDR era, has been restored by the state and may be rented for private functions. The former barn and garage facilities have been turned into a headquarters and maintenance center. Also on the grounds is a colonial farmhouse currently being restored and a caretaker's house. Entrance to the park is through the north gate; the old south gate is permanently closed. Through traffic is not allowed. Near the south gate a wading pool with overhead fountain has been constructed. A connecting paved road runs through the park. There is a daily parking fee of $5.00 for Massachusetts personal vehicles at the three lots within the park. Other fees apply for buses, youth group vehicles, and out-of-state cars.


Bradley palmer state park wading pool


Bradley Palmer State Park is a 721-acre (2.92 km2) park that features meadows where blueberries can be picked, equestrian runs, stands of climax white pine and hemlock, and a central paved road lined with white pine and in one stretch of a few hundred yards of rhododendron and mountain laurel thickets. The estate is bordered on the north by the Ipswich River and Willowdale State Forest. Some of the land there is private but the park has contiguous access to the ruins of Willowdale Mill, a former textile mill.

The Discover Hamilton Trail loops through the park. Willowdale State Forest is just north of Bradley Palmer.

Besides being open to public at will, the park has many structured uses. It is currently used as the home field for meets of the Masconomet Regional High School Cross-county Team. In the autumn the neighboring horse farms conduct fox hunts (they bring their own fox). Sometimes equestrian meets are held there. Numerous hurdles are in evidence in the equestrian runs, which are periodically mowed. Horses brought in by trailer at will may usually be seen on any non-winter day, more so toward the autumn.


The park is the former estate of Bradley Palmer, a noted attorney of the early 20th century.

During the 1960s and '70s the park was the location of the Massachusetts Civil Defense Training Academy. The academy utilized the rooms of the Willowdale Estate as classrooms, dormitory and mess facilities. A disaster town was constructed in a clearing apx. One-quarter mile east of the mansion consisted of a burn house, five story rappelling tower, shed class rooms and four collapse building simulators.

Activities and amenities

  • Trails: Park trails are used for walking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
  • A wading pool and restrooms are handicapped-accessible.
  • The park also offers picnicking, canoeing, and fishing.
  • Hunting is prohibited.
  • Dogs must be leashed.
  • Park hazards

    Many of the trails over the hills were constructed environmentally improperly straight up and down slope instead of following the contours. Consequently, erosion has turned them into dry stream beds or ravines dangerous and unsuitable for hiking due to loose boulders and gravel and uneven terrain. Despite many efforts of the park attendants to level, fill and mulch, these trails remain in bad condition. This long-standing problem remains to be solved. Some are closed to the public, which is warned by signs against their use.

    In the autumn group equestrian events are more frequent. The pedestrian is cautioned to be alert for galloping horses and not depend entirely on the alertness of the riders. Also in the autumn the privacy of the unsuspecting visitor is likely to be unexpectedly interrupted by teams of cross-country runners.

    Poison ivy grows extensively in the picnic areas.

    Although the Ipswich River has had swimming holes in the past, swimming from the bridges is not currently permitted. In places the currents are dangerous. In the spring and autumn the swift flood currents are hazardous.


    Bradley Palmer State Park Wikipedia