Visit our Riverbend Headquarters to paddle, walk trails, enjoy the river and see our environmentally friendly demonstration gardens. In 2006, Dr. Joseph (Bob) Petranek generously donated his house and 15 acres on the river to the organization and Riverbend became our headquarters. Over the years, an additional 9 acres was donated by the Smith Family and the Congress Corporation. The property is permanently protected for public use and enjoyment, and contains a canoe dock, trails, green building, green roof, water-wise demonstration projects and gardens and offices.
Portage your boat to the dock or become a member and use our boats for free. We have 8 kayaks and 4 canoes available for members anytime (dawn to dusk). Join today! Boats are available on a first-come, first-served basis, no reservations required. We also provide life vests and paddles. Paddle 1 mile downstream to the Ipswich Mills Dam or upriver, perhaps for miles depending on the water level. You can buy an Ipswich River Paddling Guide and Map online or at Riverbend.
The creation of the lower parking area and river access road is a joint conservation project of the Town of Ipswich and the Ipswich River Watershed Association. Three parking spaces are available in the lower parking area for paddlers bringing their own boats.
Two trails from the headquarters at the top of the hill lead down to the river. Once by the river, a trail from our dock heads upstream through a large section of old formal gardens. Although overtaken by growth since the 1950’s, the old garden includes mature plantings and interesting stone features such as stairs, a fish pond and a wonderful pagoda overlooking the river.
Our riverside habitat is key to the movement of wildlife, shading the river from the summer’s heat and absorbing the energy of floods. River otters, bald eagles, beaver, wood ducks, owls, fisher, fox, deer and a variety of other birds and mammals have been seen on the property. Keep your eye out for three interpretive signs along the trails. They will teach you about floodplain forests, river life and the history of the Barnard Gardens.
Green Buildings and Gardens
A green roof, permeable paving, native plant and rain gardens, cistern and water efficient appliances demonstrate sustainable water use, thanks to many donors and volunteers who helped install them.
If you can help with gardens or trails, the annual fish count, office work or outreach, please let us know. We can use your help. Contact us at 978-412-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the River Community
- Please carry out what you carry in
- Dogs must be leashed, please pick up waste
- Fires and camping are prohibited
- No swimming
- Disturbing, removing or defacing any natural feature, sign or structure is prohibited.