Appleton Farms
Find Your Place
Appleton Farms Ipswich, MA
658 acres

About Appleton Farms

Wander past crop fields and cow pastures at the country’s oldest continuously operating farm.

What makes Appleton Farms a special place?


Rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, stone walls, and historic farm buildings are part of this pastoral landscape – a rare glimpse into New England’s agricultural past. A gift of Colonel Francis R. Appleton, Jr., and his wife Joan, Appleton Farms is one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the country, established and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.

Cows graze out on pasture and are milked each morning and afternoon – their milk is processed on-site to make cheese, butter, and yogurt. Fresh eggs are collected daily from the chicken “tractor” that houses our chickens, while our free-range grass-fed beef herd grazes in the Great Pasture. During the haying season, the farm produces thousands of bales of hay annually to feed the livestock, and all farm waste is composted and turned out on our fields. Hundreds of families visit the farm during the growing season to pick their own vegetables as a part of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Appleton Farms is continuing the centuries old traditions started by the Appleton family.

Grasslands here harbor one of New England’s largest populations of bobolinks and meadowlarks. Wetlands provide important spring feeding stops for migrating marsh birds and are home to frogs and salamanders, including the rare blue- and yellow-spotted salamander. Deer, fox, coyote, and mink are found in the fields, while the elusive fisher is common in the woodlands. Fall brings migrating hawks, and pine stands shelter owls in winter.

For a real sense of how generations past enjoyed this bucolic landscape, visit the carriage collection.

Six miles of footpaths, bridle paths, and farm roads (easy walking), some of which are part of the Bay Circuit Trail, crisscross the farm. We ask that you stay on marked paths and roads, observing which are for pedestrians and which for equestrians. Green Horse permits are required for horseback riding at Appleton Farms. You can also walk at the adjacent Appleton Farms Grass Rides.

When to Visit
Trails are open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting Appleton Farms Grass Rides.

Public restrooms are available in the Carriage Barn in the Farmstead area. The new Visitor Center is open Saturday and Sunday, 11AM–3PM. Visit our Visitor Center and read more about the “green” transformation of the Appleton family home, the Old House, and find out about things to see and do at the farm. Learn more about the Visitor Center at Appleton Farms.

Regulations & Advisories


  • Please stay on marked trails and avoid non-public areas.
  • Please do not open gates, disturb livestock, or interrupt farming operations. 
  • Please be aware of – and respect – electric fencing and lines.
  • Dog walking is not permitted at Appleton Farms, but it is allowed at the adjacent Appleton Farms Grass Rides.  
  • The reservation closes at sunset.
  • Public vehicles are allowed on main entrance driveways only.
  • Please respect speed limit and yield to pedestrians and animals.
  • Please observe all posted signs.
  • Green Horse permits are required for horseback riding at Appleton Farms.



Route 1A
Hamilton and Ipswich, MA 01982
Telephone: 978.356.5728

Latitude: 42.652023
Longitude: -70.843688

Get directions on Google Maps.

Visitor Center & Dairy Store Parking Area: From Rt. 128, take Exit 20A, Rt. 1A North. Travel about 6.5 miles north on Rt. 1A and turn left at the Appleton Farms entrance sign (just after entering Ipswich sign). Inside stone gates, follow signs to visitor center or dairy store. Address is 219 County Road, Ipswich.

Waldingfield Rd. Parking Area:
From Rt. 128, take Exit 20A, Rt. 1A North. Travel about 7 mi. north on Rt. 1A and turn left onto Waldingfield Rd. to parking area (20 cars) at street corner.

Highland St. Parking Area:
From Rt. 128, take Exit 20A, Rt. 1A North. Travel about 4.5 mi. north on Rt. 1A and turn left onto Cutler Rd. Follow for 2.2 mi. At intersection with Highland St., turn right, and right again into parking area (20 cars).


When to Visit
Trails are open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting Appleton Farms Grass Rides.

Farm Store Hours
Monday–Friday, 11AM–6PM;
Saturday & Sunday, 10AM–4PM;
Visit the Dairy Store at Appleton Farms >>

Visitor Center Hours
Oct 1–April 30:
Saturday and Sunday | 11AM–3PM
May 1–September 30:
Thursday–Sunday | 11AM–3PM
Visit the Visitor Center at Appleton Farms >>

Trustees Members: FREE. Nonmembers: $3. Permit required from the Essex County Trails Association for horseback riding or horse carriage driving.

Property History

In 1636, Samuel Appleton established the farm, growing vegetables, corn, and hay. Later generations of Appletons expanded into timber, beef, and dairy production, using progressive farming techniques beginning in 1868. By the late 19th century, the farm was primarily a summer country estate, complete with foxhunts and steeplechases, stone pinnacles from the Gore Hall Library at Harvard (alma mater to generations of Appletons), and the Grass Rides – five miles of trails and tree-lined grass avenues (called "rides") built for horseback and carriage driving.

Learn more about Appleton Farms and the family that cherished it at the exhibition Of Farm and Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits.

Property Acquisition History
Relinquishing the life estate established at the death of her husband Col. Francis R. Appleton, Jr. in 1974, Mrs. Appleton deeded approximately 658 acres with buildings in 1998.

Archival Collections
Archival material related to Appleton Farms is available to researchers at the Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts.

Appleton Family Papers (ca. 125.0 linear feet)
Regarding the Appleton Family and Appleton Farms, 1850s-1999.
Partial folder list available at the Archives & Research Center

The Archives & Research Center welcomes donations of documents, manuscripts, records, photographs, maps and memorabilia that pertain to a particular property. Please contact us at 781.784.8200 or


Programs, Workshops & Events

Roll up your sleeves and dig in at America’s oldest working farm! Our farm-based education programs help to grown and nurture a stronger conservation community with a sense of ownership.

See our list of current programs >>
For more information, contact us at 978.356.5728 x18,

Appleton Cooks!
A year-round program designed for people who love food. Whether you’re a beginning cook or a practiced chef, we’re offering classes, workshops, and farm-to-table dinners featuring seasonal food fresh from the farm. Learn more >>

Drop-Ins for All Ages
Meet the Cows: Tour the dairy barn during milking time on Saturdays at 3PM.
Cheese Making: Visit the public viewing area of the dairy processing plant Mondays and Tuesdays to see our cheese makers at work.

Adult Workshops (Ages 16 & up)
Culinary: Canning, bread making, soup making, and more
Maple sugaring 

Youth Service Learning
4–H Farmers Club (Ages 8–19)
Farm Stewards (Ages 15–17)
The Flower Project (Ages 15–17)
Farmhands (Ages 13–17)

For Children
Farm Fiddleheads 
Farm and Forest Explorers  (Ages 5–9)
Farm to Fork (Ages 7–12)
Dairy Discovery (Ages 7–12)

Custom Group Programs
We work with you to design a custom program that suits your needs. Topics include: farming/dairy, compost, natural history, cultural history, etc. For more information, contact us at 978.356.5728 x18,

When you volunteer at Appleton Farms you become a critical part of our mission to preserve Massachusetts’ landscapes and landmarks for future generations. Spend an hour, a day or a make a longer commitment at the farm – the opportunities are endless: work alondside staff in the fields, help with education programs, volunteer in the visitor center, lend us your expertise for a workshop or join our trail steward team. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the farm and with The Trustees.

Community Supported Agriculture

Today, we provide share to more than 800 families and we donate more than 10,000 pounds of food annually to local food pantries. We grow over 200 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers suitable to the New England climate. Our practices are guided by the National Organic Standards and by our own goals for operating sustainably. And while you do have to sign up to a waiting list to get a share, we invite you to learn more about Appleton Farms and Community Supported Agriculture.

Learn more the Appleton Farms CSA >>

Dairy & Farm Store

We’re bringing dairy products to the “community doorstep” by establishing a Jersey milking herd at Appleton Farms and creating an on-site dairy farm store to sell milk and other products to the public. Our new farm store offers our farmstead milk, cheese, butter, beef, and eggs – as well as an assortment of other locally sourced products including yogurt, ice cream, cheese, pork, sausage, maple syrup, honey, bread, artisan crafts, and artwork.

Learn more and visit our Dairy and Farm Store >>

Conservation and Stewardship

As the oldest continuously operating farm in the country, Appleton Farms has secured a place in history – now it's taking a leap toward a great green future.

In October 2009, work began on a major project to convert the property’s historic Old House, the main part of which dates to 1794, into the Appleton Farms Center for Agriculture and the Environment. The new facility will provide a public gateway to the property and serve as a home base for all of the farm’s programs.

This is not just a renovation, it’s a green-ovation. When complete, the Center will have earned LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, will be a net-zero-energy building (producing and using the same amount of energy), and will serve as a demonstration model for sustainable restoration.

Read more about the renovation and the Old House's future as the Center for Agriculture and the Environment >>


Management Planning for Our Properties

Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:

  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.

Appleton Farms management plan (part 1)
Appleton Farms management plan (part 2)
Appleton Farms management plan (part 3) 

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin boards in parking areas. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We suggest you download a trail map before your visit.

To subscribe to the Appleton Farms newsletter, email your name and mailing address to

Planning Your Visit

Travel Links
Essex National Heritage Area
North of Boston CVB

Community Links
Ipswich Online
North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Town of Hamilton
Town of Ipswich

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations


About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.

Submitted by Edward on: January 5, 2013
I visited the farm for the first time today to go trail running. It was great and I really enjoyed it. The half-snow covered fields brought a unique beauty to the environment, and the fading cross country ski tracks that rolled over the hills lured me in. However, despite the signage you have on the trails, I frequently got lost. I appreciated the maps that were posted at trail intersections, but a "you are here" indicator on the maps would have helped a whole lot. I'll be back for sure—but next time I'll bring a compass!

Submitted by Paul on: September 18, 2010
My aunt&uncle used to live on the farm,where my uncle was the blacksmith and he took care of the horses. Iused to vacation with them in the summer. It was a place that I truely loved being.I would love to go back and see it again. The last time I was there was 50+ years ago. My aunt & uncle Mr.& Mrs.Charkes Thompson. My name is Paul Phaneuf& my e-mail is

Submitted by hope on: July 17, 2010
a suggestion; it would be fun if carriage or hay rides were offered to the visitors, since the fields are vast a good way to see the farm.

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Announcements & Alerts

Become our critical partner in Massachusetts land conservation: become a member today!

Dairy Store Hours:
Monday–Friday, 11AM–6PM;
Saturday & Sunday, 10AM–4PM
Learn more >>

Visitor Center Hours:
Oct 1–April 30:
Saturday and Sunday | 11AM–3PM
May 1–September 30:
Thursday–Sunday | 11AM–3PM
Learn more >>

Appleton Cooks!

We’re offering classes, workshops, and farm-to-table dinners.
Learn more >>

Advisory: Authorized hunting is allowed on this reservation. See Regulations and Advisories at left for more information.

The farm's Old House recently underwent a "green" renovation. Learn more >>

Learn more about our Community Supported Agriculture Program.

 Quest Detective

Upcoming Things To Do

Sunday, April 12
Farmstead Cheese Tour

Other Trustees Properties You Might Like:

Appleton Farms in the News