Maudslay State Park is a tranquil oasis bordered by two rivers: the Merrimack River to the north and the Artichoke River to the west. Located in Newburyport, MA, the 480-acre park was once the estate of one of New England’s most prominent families (see historical note below). Today it is a popular outdoor recreation destination near Boston Massachusetts that is crisscrossed by a well-maintained network of hiking trails, walking paths and multi-use carriage roads.
The Shangri-la like park setting, sweeping river views, rolling meaows, towering pines, exquisite formal 19th century gardens and one of the largest naturally-occurring stands of mountain laurel in Massachusetts make Maudslay State Park the perfect venue for a leisurely, scenic or romantic mountain bike excursion and informal picnic. If you are looking for challenging, technical or fast and flowy singletrack, this is not the place for you.
Birdwatching is also a popular activity at Mausdlay State Park. In Autumn, cyclists are treated to up close views of the changing foliage and huge numbers of shorebirds as they stop to rest and feed on the Merrimack River mudflats before resuming their flight south from their arctic nesting grounds.
Bald eagles are making a come-back in Massachusetts due to the efforts of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and others. Maudslay State Park is one of the few winter roosting areas for bald eagles in the northeast. From November 1 to March 31, the area of the park along the Merrimack River which encompasses Cathedral Road and the Laurel Walk Trail, is fenced off to protect their nesting habitat.
Downtown Newburyport, offers art galleries and a great boardwalk along the Merrimack River. Plum Island is also nearby with wonderful beaches.
Park Headquarters are located in a building on the east side of Curzon Mill Rd, opposite the parking area. Restroom facilities with showers are located in the parking lot.
Sweeping river views, gardens, stands of towering pines, stone arched bridges. While biking the carriage trails at Maudslay State Park is a joy in any season, a spectacle not to be missed is when the ornamental trees and masses of azaleas and rhododendrons bloom in May and June.
The Maudslay State Park Trail System is comprised of mostly relatively flat, double-track carriage roads. While there are occasional ruts, roots, short hill climbs and descents, there is nothing technical. The trails traverse a pastoral landscape of rolling meadows, deciduous woodlands, pine groves, wetlands and travel along the steep banks of the Merrimack River.
While most of the buildings from the original estate no longer exist, stone arched bridges that cross over ponds, stone walls, building foundations, a weed-choked cement swimming pool, stands of ornamental bushes and fruit trees, old farm fields, a pet cemetery and old iron entrance gates remind trail users of the former glory of this early 20th century estate.
The Pasture Trail runs north/south and divides the park nearly in half. To the west, are the formal gardens and architectural plantings. The trails on this side are mostly designated for hiking and cross country skiing. To the east, over 5 miles of multi-use carriage trails and park roads are open to mountain bikes, unless marked otherwise.
Each secton of the park offers a different mountain biking experience. Whether you plan to bike for an hour or spend the entire day exploring the park, there is something to suit everyone.
You can find trail maps in the brochure box by the bulletin board in the main parking area and at park headquarters.
Suggested Mountain Bike Rides
Merrimack River Trail
The Merrimack River Trail runs along the Merrimack River, east/west for two miles sandwiched between the riverbank and a line of towering white pines. It provides access to all the main routes in the trail network. Bikes are permitted on the multi-use portion of the trail that runs east from Mile Circle. The views of the river along the trail are absolutely sensational. To avoid the crowds on this popular path, arrive early in the morning.
Maudslay Medley Bike Rides
From the parking area, cross Curzon Mill Road and pass the Park Headquarters. Head onto the Pasture Trail. Cross a velvety green meadow and pedal north through the Christmas Tree Grove towards the Flowering Pond. You’ll arrive at a fork. To the left is the Mile Circle Trail and to the right is Main Road.
Ride Option 1: Maudslay Medley East
Turn left onto the Mile Circle Trail. It travels in an arc before reconnecting with the Pasture Trail at the northern end of the pond. Cross the pond via the Dam. In a short distance, arrive at a T-junction where the Laurel Walk meets the Merrimack River Trail. If the area to the left is not closed due to the Bald Eagle roosting season, turn left and follow the trail as it winds along the river.
At the next fork, turn right to bike through the massive stand of Mountain Laurels along Laurel Walk or stay on the Merrimack River Trail to access the Castle Hill Lookout or the remote Bootleggers Field Loop in the far northeastern finger of the park.
Ride Option 2: Maudslay Medley South
Turn right onto Main Road. Cross the Pond via the wide, stone bridge. Arrive at the junction with the south branch of the Merrimack River Trail. Bear right. The Main Road runs concurrently with the Merrimack River Trail. Try biking Overlook Road, Main Road. or North Road. All branch off the trail and travel south to eventually connect with a trail that traces the park’s southern boundary along Pine Hill Road. Head left on this trail to the Pasture Trail and return to the parking lot.
If you are not in a hurry, explore the trails that crisscross between all these north/south routes for a diverse mountain biking experience. The trails travel through a medley of fields, pines, woods, wetlands and around kettle holes (bowls carved out of the landscape by glacier action). There are a few singletrack trails in the area designated for foot travel only. Please respect posted signs.
Castle Hill Lookout Trail
The Castle Hill Trails are located in the peaceful northeastern section of the park. The trails wind around and climb to the summit of Castle Hill, a lofty knoll that offers pretty views of the fields and Merrimack River Valley below. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic.
Perimeter Loop Bike Tour
Using a combination of trails that hug the park’s boundaries, a number of loops rides of varying lengths are possible. Here's one short option.
From the parking area, cross Curzon Mill Road and head east across the meadow onto the Pasture Trail. At the fork, turn right. The trail dips south towards Pine Hill Road before straightening out and entering the woods. Many trails branch off the path and lead north. Keep straight. Near the “Theatre In The Open”, turn left onto North Road. Pedal north along the border with Arrowhead Farm, one of the oldest continually operated family farms in the nation. At the junction with the Main Road/Merrimack River Trail, turn left and ride towards Flowering Pond. Cross the pond over the stone bridge and turn left onto the Pasture Trail. Retrace your route back to the start to complete this short bike tour around the southeastern section of Maudslay State Park.
The former Fredrick Moseley Estate, built in the early 19th century was originally called Maudesleigh which later became known as as Maudslay. At it's peak there were 30 structures on the property, a staff of around 40 and an extensive horticultural operation. In addition to the laurels naturally occurring on the estate there was a rose garden, an Italian garden, a 500 foot perennial garden, a collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, specimen trees and more.
The property was acquired in 1985 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and became Maudslay State Park.
From North or South:
For more information
Maudslay State Park
Phone: 978 465-7223