What We Do

AF farm road jmp VTD -9-09 Trail Crew 3

The Essex County Trail Association exists to protect access to the trails and open lands throughout Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Topsfield, Essex and West Newbury.  We partner with both public and private landowners to ensure that the experience of open trails is positive for them as well as the trail users.

Trail Protection:  We work with private landowners to grant permanent trail easements to ECTA.  ECTA often maintains these trails at the landowners request, ensuring safety and protection of the resource.

Trail Maintenance:  ECTA quickly responds to requests to clear and maintain over 450 miles of trails throughout our communities.  We clear downed trees, fix holes and muddy areas, repair fencing, and mark trails.

Trail Repair and Construction:  ECTA completes major repair and construction projects each year.  We spend over $35,000 annually on trail work, including clearing and constructing new trails, installing and repairing culverts, improving trail surfaces, and installing water flow devices to mitigate beaver impacts.

Trail Management Plans:  ECTA has developed Trail Management Plans for 4 of the 6 towns we serve.  These TMP’s allow us to manage trails throughout the town on a streamlined basis in order to save the town, landowners and ECTA money and time.

Trail Assessments:   We conduct detailed Trail Assessments that allow us to formulate and enact a plan for trail repairs, using GPS and photography, followed by a cost analysis of each area.

Volunteer Trail Days:  We hold two Volunteer Trail Work Days each year, in spring and fall, to clear and maintain the trails.

Events:  ECTA holds many athletic, educational, and  social events throughout the year designed to promote the outdoors and to bring in funds for the organization.  Our four major annual events are listed below.

  • Equine Expo, a tack/paraphernalia sale with equine demonstrations at the Topsfield Fair Arena in April
  • Spring for the Trails Half Marathon, 13.1 mile run on the trails in Willowdale State Forest, part of the North Shore Trail Series, in May
  • Summer Solstice Party, a lovely fundraiser held under the tents at Groton House Farm in June
  • Run for the Trails, a 5 or 10 mile trail run, held in Hamilton in September.