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North of Boston/Merrimack Valley has woods and beach places to walk

61 Market Street, Unit 1C Lowell, MA, 01852 Phone: 978-459-6150

Take a walk and discover the valley's beautiful spaces and places

If you love the outdoors, you’ll love the variety of beautiful, natural settings year-round in the Greater Merrimack Valley including forests, parks and trails that offer safe, scenic and car-free activities for the whole family. Walk and hike in national and state parks, wildlife management areas, on old railroad beds, and in cities and towns with their own special walkways and trails. From historic Minute Man Park where the American Revolution began to bucolic and quieter Walden Pond and dozens of places and spaces in between you’ll find great wildlife viewing and observation areas, farms, open meadows, scenic ponds and places to picnic and stop along the way. Later in the day you’ll also find some lighted and paved over trails.

Essex National Heritage Area

New Liberty and Essex Salem, MA Phone: 508-740-1650

The area offers visitors three Heritage Trails to walk: The maritime trail, the early settlement trail, and the industry/textile and leather trail.

160 Pawtucket Blvd Lowell, MA Phone: 978-458-8750

Park describes the history of this industrial city; also boating, fishing, and walking along esplanade

This park displays and educates visitors about Lowell’s 19th-centry textile mills and the lives of mill workers. The park includes two miles of landscaped esplanade along the Merrimack River and a Victorian garden in the downtown. Paths are pleasant for walking and enjoying sights along the river. Outdoor concerts and seasonal events take place along the esplanade.

Visitor Center, 6 Plum Island Tpk. Newburyport, MA Phone: 978-465-5753

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is a protected place for migratory birds located on the barrier beach of Plum Island. Visitors can walk boardwalks and see sandy beach and dune, cranberry bog, maritime forest and shrub land, and freshwater marsh. Stunning! See full description of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

177 Forest Street Saugus, MA Phone: 781-233-0834

Large forest with 2 freshwater lakes; swimming; fishing; walking trails; extensive views

Many walking trails reach to all parts of this 600-acre property of hardwood forests north Boston. Lots of peaks above 200 feet provide good climbs and views of distant Boston. See full description Breakheart Reservation.

Woodland Road Winchester, MA Phone: 781-322-2851 or

Natural refuge set on over 2,000 acres. Visitors here can enjoy biking, hiking and cross-country ski trails. Canoeing, fishing, and swimming areas are offered, as well as a visitor's center with historic information.

Route 1A Ipswich, MA, 01938 Phone: 978-356-5728

Established in 1638, Appleton Farms is one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the United States. Scenic views of rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, ancient stone walls, four miles of tree-lined carriage paths, and historic farm buildings welcome visitors for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Farm operations include a community-supported agriculture program, a retail feed and mulch haying operation, livestock and dairy programs, and educational programs are offered to the public throughout the year.

This self-guided walking tour highlights Salem's important and historic contribution to American history. Sites include: House of the Seven Gables, the Peabody Essex Museum, Ropes Mansion (1727), the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the Salem Witch Museum, Stephen Phillips Memorial Trust House, Witch Dungeon Museum, the Witch House.

The Minuteman Bikeway passes through the area where the American Revolution began in April 1775. Built on an inactive railroad, the trail is used by local residents as a convenient, eco-friendly way to reach train stations. The path is 12 feet wide, plowed in the winter, and includes lots of stops for refreshments and restrooms at Depot Park in Bedford, the Lexington Visitor’s Center, Alewife Station, and business districts along the bikeway. Trail access in Bedford is available at the intersection of South Road and Loomis Street (exit 31B from I-95); at Lexington Center and Arlington Center, and at the Alewife T-Station.
Trail Map

Beach Road, Route 1A Salisbury, MA, 01952 Phone: 508-462-4481

Fantastic, sandy ocean beach with all waterfront sports; popular for trailer camping

Boardwalks over the dunes offer a wonderful way to easily get out into the dunelands for gorgeous strolls among spectacular vistas.
See full description ofSalisbury Beach State Reservation.

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Perkins Row Topsfield, MA Phone: 508-887-9264

10 miles of trails and an observation tower are set in this natural preserve.

Salem Sound Salem, MA, 01970 Phone: 978-526-8687

Ruins of a turn-of-the-century summer colony...

Explore Great and Little Misery Islands for stunning coastal views, scenic hiking trails, ruins of a turn-of-the-century summer colony, even the remains of a shipwreck! A two-mile system of trails provides access to most parts of Great Misery Island, and Little Misery is accessible by wading across a narrow, shallow channel at low tide. The name Misery Islands arose from the ordeal of shipbuilder Robert Moulton, who became stranded on the islands for three miserable days during a December storm in the 1620s. Today Misery Islands are easily accessible by boat or by ferry service from Salem.

915 Walden Street Concord and Lincoln, MA Phone: 978-369-3254

Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847. His experience at Walden provided the material for the book Walden. Because of Thoreau's legacy, Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. The Reservation includes the 102-foot deep glacial pond. Hiking trails travel around the pond and pass the replica of Thoreau's cabin. Year-round interpretive programs and guided walks are offered as well as a gift shop, bookstore and a gallery. Trail map.
Hours: Open year-round for day use only. Hours vary by season. Call 978 369-3254 for current park hours.
Fees: Daily parking fee is $8-$10.

Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

Route 117, South Great Road Lincoln, MA Phone: 617-259-9807

Visitors to this nature preserve will enjoy hiking trails, live farm animals and hayrides. During the winter season sleighrides are offered.

Island Road Essex, MA, 01929 Phone: 978-526-8687

Stavros Reservation’s most popular feature is White's Hill, a scenic overlook that offers panoramic views of Crane Beach, the Crane Wildlife Refuge, and Halibut Point. An easy trail leads to the fieldstone base of a former fifty-foot-high tower constructed in the 1890s for property owner Lamont G. Burnham, Esq. The structure was used as a pumping tower to supply water to the Burnham farm, and it was said that Mr. Burnham stationed a sentry there to lookout for coal barges rounding Halibut Point. When the sentry identified a boat belonging to Burnham, a fast horse would be dispatched to Newburyport to put a price on the cargo.

Curzon Mill Road Newburyport, MA Phone: 978-465-7223

This park features gardens from the 1800s, other plantings, rolling meadows, and huge groves of mountain laurel. Loved by visitors for the may-to-June blooming period of large beds of azaleas and rhododendrons. An exquisite place for walking, biking, and informal picnics. Portions closed in winter, but still fine for walks. Special use permits allowed for weddings. Parking fee of $2. Trail map.

Neilson Road New Salem, MA Phone: 978-840-4446

On its way to the Quabbin Reservoir, the Middle Branch of the Swift River passes through the steep granite cliffs of Bear's Den. A short trail forks at the entrance - the left spur leading to the gorge, the right leading to the stream bed below the falls. In 1675, the great chief King Philip met here with neighboring chieftains to plan attacks on Hadley, Deerfield, and Northampton. A black bear shot on the property gives the Reservation its name, though more romantic - yet unsubstantiated - stories exist.

Lynn Woods

Great Woods and Penny Brook Roads Lynn, MA Phone: 617-593-7773

This 2,200-acre municipal forest is the perfect spot for hiking, rock climbing, bird watching, cross-country skiing or just enjoying the view. A rose garden adds to the scenery.
Hours: Sunrise to sunset. No charge.

Gott Avenue Rockport, MA Phone: 978-526-8687

Easy hiking trails lead to scenic vistas, a low rocky coastal shelf with impressive crashing waves, and interesting tide pools. Cooperatively managed with adjacent Halibut Point State Park, the two miles of trails edge the former Babson Farm Quarry, now filled by natural underground springs. Granite quarried here at the turn of the 20th century paved thousands of city streets and built bridges, tunnels, monuments, warehouses, and buildings, such as Boston's Custom House Tower.

Stevens Street North Andover, MA, 01845 Phone: 978-682-3580

Weir Hill’s (pronouced "wire hill") four miles of easy hiking trails meander over a double drumlin that rises 305 feet, includes more than a mile of scenic shoreline on Lake Cochichewick, and a broad meadow that provides magnificent views of Stevens Pond and the Merrimack Valley. The Reservation is named for the fish weirs (woven fences with stakes) that were once submerged by Native Americans in Cochichewick Brook to catch alewives before they reached Lake Cochichewick to spawn. Picnicking, bird watching, and cross-country skiing in winter invite visitors year round.

Crane Memorial Reservation

Argilla Road Ipswich, MA Phone: 508-356-4351

Set on a barrier beach, this preserve features nature trails, and is the perfect site for bird watching.

305 Middleton Road North Andover, MA, 01845 Phone: 508-686-3391

In-the-forest camping; miles of logging roads for hiking and mountain biking; fishing and paddling (no motor boats)

Walking and hiking and mountain biking may be done in this large, forested property only 20 miles from the Greater Boston area. Trail map.
See full description of Harold Parker State Forest.

Gott Avenue Rockport, MA Phone: 508-546-2997

Elevated outcropping has beautiful sea views; birdwatching; good for walking & picnics

This beautiful promontory above the Atlantic and just outside the town of rockport is wonderful for walking and enjoying nature. The Sea Rocks property, next to the state park, also welcomes people for hiking, bird watching, and picnics.
See full descriptionHalibut Point State Park.

Asbury Street and Ipswich Road Topsfield, MA Phone: 508-887-5931

Great for walking, picnicking, enjoying spring flowers; horseback riding. Wading pool for kids

This expansive park of generous meadows has many shaded walking trails and old carriage roads.
Summer trail map.
See full description of Bradley Palmer State Park.

Summer Street (Route 127) Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, 01944 Phone: 978-356-4351

A short easy hike to the tip of Coolidge Point rewards the visitor with the magnificent Ocean Lawn views of Magnolia Harbor, Kettle Island and Great and Little Misery Islands. At one time, this vast lawn was the site of the Coolidge family's "Marble Palace," a Georgian-style mansion designed in 1902 by Charles McKim. The Ocean Lawn is now an open, grassy expanse broken only by large shade trees. Picturesquely edged by rocky headlands that extend into the sea, it is bordered on the west by Kettle Cove and Black Beach, and is a classic New England landscape, perfect for picnicking.

Prospect Road North Andover, MA, 01845 Phone: 978-682-3580

The focal point of the Ward Reservation is 420-foot Holt Hill, the highest point in Essex County. At the summit, visitors can see Boston's skyline and the Blue Hills to the south, and explore the "Solstice Stones”, a compass-like arrangement of stones set on the peak. The narrow stone in the NE quadrant points in the direction of where the sun rises on the summer solstice (around June 21), the longest day of the year. Located at the foot of Holt Hill is Pine Hole Bog, a rare quaking bog that features concentric rings of distinct vegetation, each characterized by different growing conditions.

Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Road Ipswich, MA Phone: 508-462-4481

Beautiful barrier island and ocean beach for walking, birdwatching

Sandy Point is part of Plum Island, a beautify barrier island with a coastal beach. People enjoy the property for walking, beachcombing, fishing, and birding. It is the home and nesting region for the piping plover. Visitors must enter through the adjacent Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Parking lots are available, but they can fill up, and when this happens the reservation is temporarily closed. Pedestrians may enter the beach but muse avoid fenced areas to protect birds and dunes. Hours: sunrise to sunset.