Massachusetts state and local parks host all kinds of outdoor fun & sports
Massachusetts state and local parks are home to a huge range of activities, as different as salt-water fishing at the Cape Cod National Seashore to the hiking to summits with vast vistas into Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York from the mountainous parks of the Berkshires region. Some tell tales of the state's history, like at Minute Man National Park in the Merrimack region
, where the Revolutionary War began. Activities from boating to cross-country skiing and all manner of sports in between give pleasure to families and children and people of all ages. The listings below are a selection from scores of state parks in the Bay State; many are not included. Visit the state parks website to read more.
61 Market Street, Unit 1C
Lowell, MA, 01852
A park for every outdoor pleasure in the Merrimack Valley
Take your pick of quiet, rugged and historic national and state parks to enjoy every form of outdoor recreation. Walk in, bike in or park your car and start your journey. Stroll along historic trails. Jump into a canoe or kayak for a lazy glide down scenic rivers. Stop and view the amazing array of wildlife in special management and observation areas. Or spread out your blanket for a relaxing picnic or siesta in beautiful fields near quiet ponds. Whether you travel on foot, bike, cross country skis or on horseback there’s plenty to see and do like fishing, swimming, camping and interpretive programs to step into. You can even savor the delicious ice cream at a working dairy farm.
204 Union Street
Popular for for camping, fishing, hiking. Some campsites have electricity.
A half-hour drive from Boston, this park has wooded campsites, half of them with electricity. The park is popular with trailer campers; electric hookups, a dumping station, and potable water are all available. Camping and rest rooms are wheelchair accessible. Cyclists will find 12 miles of paved bicycle trails, and many miles of wooded bridle paths and hiking trails. Fishing is allowed in the Cohasset Reservoir. A boat ramp is provided for car-top boats, but no boat trailers. There are no swimming facilities at this park.Cross-country skiing is allowed. Trail map.
Camping Season is mid-May through mid-October
Beautiful sea views; birdwatching; good for walking and picnicking
On a promontory beyond Rockport Between Ipswich Bay and the Atlantic, Halibut Point is a beautiful place for viewing the seascape, walking, birdwatching, and picnicking. It is a former granite quarry and is now run the Trustees for Reservations . On summer weekends tours of the quarry are offered. There are wildflower walks and tide pool education programs in the summer and bird tours in the winter. Most of the park is wheelchair accessible.
Season and Hours: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Parking lot is available.
1 Jackson Street
Park describes the history of this early industrial city and its immigrant workers
This is the place to learn about this city’s industrial history. Interactive exhibits in a genuine nd restored mill workers’ boarding house describe life in this early planned city. The Visitors Center includes a replicas of the mills and boarding houses, telling the life histories of the three dozen immigrant groups who settled in Lawrence. A video of the Great Strike of 1912 describes a piece of this country’s labor history. The Bread and Roses Festival on Labor Day is an annual highlight. Guided tours are offered. Pemberton Park, off Canal Street near the Central Bridge, offers views of the mills and dam, along with places to fish. The area has walking trails and benches. Open daily 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Lawrence Heritage State Park map.
Good for fishing, walking, and nature viewing. No pets allowed.
This property is southwest of the the Quabbin Reservoir and on land of the reservoir's watershed. Wooded roads pass through pine, maple, birch and hemlock groves. A wildlife sanctuary of 140 acres is in the center of the park. Good for bird watching for wild fowl, Limited-service campsites are available. Fishing and cross-country skiing also are allowed. No pets are allowed on Watershed Property.
107 Wallum Lake Road
Popular state forest on lake with many activities: water sports; horseback riding; hiking trails
The state forest in Massachusetts also borders on Connecticut and Rhode Island. Activities at the park include water sports -- swimming, boating, paddling, fishing -- on Wallum Lake. There is a boat ramp and parking for boat trailers. Fish species includes trout, largemouth bass, and pickerel. Also: trails for horse riding and, in the winter, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. There are picnic grounds, a beach for swimming, and bathrooms.
The Midstate Trail, a hiking trail through the center of Massachusetts, runs through the park. The park includes a 5-acre expanse of white cedar swampland, and a boardwalk trail to view the swampland.
The park is popular and can reach capacity on some days in summer. To receive a tweet when Douglas State Forest reaches capacity, check Twitter at www.Twitter.com. Enter ”MassDCR” into the search field.
Map of Midstate Trail
570 Burnett Road
Chicopee, MA, 01020
Swimming and fishing on a large pond; walking trails
Chicopee State Park, previously called the Cooley Brook Reservoir, has a 25-acre pond for swimming and fishing. Beach is wheelchair accessible. Picnic grounds and restrooms also are available. The park has trails for walking and bicycling. The park is open daily, 8 a.m-4 pm. During busy weekends and some holidays, the parking lot may be filled and therefore temporarily closed until more parking is available. For information on parking lot closures and openings, consult Twitter at@MassDCR or call 617-626-4973.
462 North Street
Feeding Hills, MA
Good for paddling, picnics, swimming, fishing, and views
Robinson State Park is a popular recreational area in the Springfield region. River Road will take you into an area for swimming, sports, picnic sites, and launching canoes and kayaks. Come and explore 800 acres of scenic forests and shoreline on the Westfield River, and 20 miles of trails for walking, cycling, and horseback riding.
Season & Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday-Thursday.
410 Tolland Road
East Otis, MA
Good for many recreational activities including boating, fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, and picnics.
Come and explore the 1,065-acre Otis Reservoir, which is the main attraction of this state forest. The lake has an activity for everyone's taste, from extreme recreation to a relaxing swim or boat ride. Camp on a beautiful wooded peninsula and watch the sun set and rise over the southern Berkshire Hills. Pick your favorite outdoor recreational activities, or try something new. Go hiking, fishing, swimming, paddling, or have a picnic. Be aware of hunters, off-road vehicles, and mountain bikers.
Season & Hours: Sunrise until sunset, year-round. $5 parking fee for the beach day-use area, Memorial Day weekend - Labor Day.
Amenities include restrooms, boat ramp, campsite, and showers.
Brewster, MA, 02631
Inland park offers lots of camping; fresh water swimming, fishing and paddling; hiking and biking
This is a large camping park in the inland pine woods of Cape Cod. Swimming and fishing is done at eight fresh-water kettle ponds. Ponds are stocked year-round with trout. The park is filled with walking, hiking, and biking trails. An eight-mile bicycling trail within the park connects to the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, a former railroad bed now dedicated to walking and biking. Visitors may swim and canoe and kayak at Flax Pond; enjoy the wildlife or fish (catch-and-release) at Higgins Pond, or enjoy staff-led nature learning programs. Four hundred camp sites include yurt camping. You cannot see Cape Cod Bay from this inland park, but the bay is within walking or bicycling distance.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Route 88 South
Westport, MA, 02790
Good for boating, fishing, swimming, and camping.
Horseneck Beach State Reservation is a popular spot for campers and sunbathers. Its main feature is an ocean beach for sailing, swimming, or just soaking up the sun. There is ample campground and amenities like showers, restrooms, and dumpsters. Birdwatchers flock to the beach and salt marsh to catch glimpses of unique New England bird species. Swimming is permitted only at designated beaches. Pets are not allowed at swimming areas.
Season: mid-May - mid-October
86 Dearth Hill Road
Good for hiking & walking, picnicking, horseback riding; fishing
This sprawling green area boasts over 20 miles of roads and trails. Dean Pond Recreation Area, located in the western portion of Brimfield State Forest, has a pavilion, comfort station, a small beach and picnic area. The roads are popular for equestrian use and related special events. Accessible Restrooms. Recreational uses: fishing, group day use, horseback riding trails, hunting (with restrictions), mountain biking, picnicking, cross-country skiing, swimming, walking trails. Headquarters and Dean Pond Recreation Area are located off of Route 20 in south-central Massachusetts.
69 Bluehill Road
Monterey, MA, 01245
Good for non-motorized boating, walking & hiking, camping, snowmobiling; fishing; leashed pets allowed
Beartown State Forest is open year-round. During the warm months Benedict Pond attracts swimmers, boaters, and fishermen. A network of trails offers visitors a chance to see animals, forests, and fall foliage. Open in winter for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Unguarded swimming is available at designated areas only. Non-motorized boating at Benedict Pond day-use area. All Terrain Vehicles are permitted from May 1 through November. Snowmobiling is available, with parking at Benedict Pond day-use area.
Season & Hours: Sunrise until sunset. Parking is $5 per vehicle, May through mid-October.
7 Industrial Park Road West
Swimming, fishing, & picnicking next to reservoir. Boat ramps. Wheelchair access
This park is adjacent to the East Brimfield Reservoir. The public may use the park year-round for fishing, swimming, picnicking at tables near the lake, and boating of all kinds. Life guards are on duty during the summer. Boating ramps are on Route 20 – outside the park – and are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The park is mostly wheelchair-accessible, on mostly paved sidewalks, Restrooms are available. There is a very large parking area.
260 Central Shaft Road
Handicap-accessible hiking and camping; water sports, picnicking, hiking, camping, paddling, pets allowed
There are virtually endless recreational opportunities at Savoy Mountain State Forest. Fifty miles of wooded trails lead to floating bogs and the cascading, 50-foot Tannery Falls, where Ross Brook flows through a deep chasm. Serene North and South Ponds are surrounded by forest and walking trails; North Pond has a boat ramp, and both ponds have beach areas. Unguarded swimming is available at the North Pond day-use area. Both ponds make excellent picnic sites.
There are 45 campsites in an apple orchard. Pets are permitted except on the beach area and in the cabins; maximum 10-foot leash.
Amenities: restrooms, showers, handicap-accessible sites.
Prohibited: Motorized off-road vehicles, alcoholic beverages, swimming or rock climbing at Tannery Falls area.
Season & Hours: The park is open year-round, 8 a.m. to dusk. Parking fee of $5 is charged in summer at the at North Pond day-use area and for visitors to the campground.
Park map: http://1.usa.gov/1kEXQ5M
1199 Middle Road
Recreational activities here include hiking, camping, paddling, fishing, and more.
Clarksburg State Park offers 368 acres of unspoiled hardwood forest with views of the Hoosac Range, Mount Greylock, and the Green Mountains. Mauserts Pond has a day-use area with picnicking and a pavilion. The pond is surrounded by 9.5 miles of foot trails. Good for camping, hiking, and boating. Boat Launch is available for non-motorized boats. Prohibited: Motorized off-road vehicles.
Season & Hours: Year-round, sunrise to sunset. Facilities open Memorial Day through Columbus Day, with a $5 parking fee.
Off Mystic Valley Parkway
Medford, Somerville, Everett, MA
Series of parks and green spaces along Mystic River; accessible by MBTA trains; walking, biking, picnicking, swimming
The Mystic River Reservation is a string of parks and green spaces along the Mystic River and including the twin Mystic Lakes. The two major lobes of the Reservation are along Mystic Valley Parkway (Route 16) but are divided by one offshoot of the Mystic River and the Fellsway (see map). Activities at these parks include walking and jogging, bicycling, picnicking, and access to water sports at Mary O’Malley Park
The Reservation is accessible by commuter trains. Take the MBTA to W. Medford or Wedgemere stations for access to Mystic Lakes. Take the Orange line to Wellington Station for access to Mystic River. Bus lines to Medford Square provide access to the bike path.
Open year round, dawn to dusk.
1048 North Road
Westfield, MA, 01085
Located in the City of Westfield, Hampton Pond State Park offers water sports, including beaches, swimming, paddling, motor boating, and fishing. The park has a boat ramp. There is plenty of room for picnicking, and restrooms are provided.
Beach Road, Route 1A
Salisbury, MA, 01952
Popular for trailer camping; ocean beach, swimming, boating, fishing
This beautiful ocean beach stretches almost 4 miles along the Atlantic.
Activities at this reservation include ocean swimming, boating, fishing, and camping.
It is very popular for trailer camping, offering 484 trailer sites.
The property has bathhouses, a parking area for day visitors, boardwalks, a pavilion and a playground.
Two boat ramps are on the Merrimack River at the south end of the campground.
Camping is done from May to October, and campground office hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Off-season camping on weekends only may be done from mid-October to late November.
Hunters may use the island part of the refuge and Sandy Point State Reservation is for limited hours. There is parking for hunters at Sandy Point State Reservation. See park website for rules about hunting.
143 East Street
South Egremont, MA, MA
Good for scenic views, wilderness camping, fishing, hiking, and picnicking. Free access.
This red oak northern hardwood forest offers rugged terrain for hikers and rustic camping. Follow the South Taconic or Appalachian Trail along a great ridge and through Sage’s Ravine. Come in spring to bask in the blooming mountain laurel and azalea, and visit in summer to see the terrain blanketed in ferns. Be aware of bears. Prohibited: motorized off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and alcoholic beverages
Season & Hours:
year-round, sunrise - sunset. Parking is limited to the designated lot at the park headquarters on East Street. Camp for free in the wilderness, any time of year, and remember to carry-in and carry-out all your things. Park map.
136 Damon Road at Route 9
The Connecticut River Greenway connects open spaces, parks, scenic vistas, and archaeological and historic sites along the length of the Connecticut River as it passes through the state. There are over 12 miles of permanently protected shoreline, and numerous access points to the river. Several larger properties such as Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation, Norwottuck Rail Trail, and the Great Falls Discovery Center (located in Turner's Falls) provide added visitor amenities.
River access points
Large mountain park with camping, hiking, boating on Housatonic River
Visitors to October Mountain can camp, hike, and enjoy the outdoors and have near access to Tanglewood. Forty-seven campsites dot a sunny hillside. Trails are available for every level of fitness. A scenic trail leads through Schermerhorn Gorge, a striking natural feature.
Camping season is from mid-May through mid-October. Maximum RV size is 34 feet. No electric hook-ups. All terrain vehicles are permitted during the day on designated trails from May 1 through November. Car top boat ramps are available at Housatonic River (public access at New Lenox Road), Buckley Dunton Reservoir, and October Mountain Reservoir day-use area. Snowmobiling is available on four-inch minimum hard-packed snow base. This is black bear country. Never confront or feed bears.
boat ramp, fishing,
trailer / R.V. dumping,
Season and Hours:Open from sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. Access is free.
164 Cedar Street
Hopkinton, MA, 01748
Located on a reservoir; activities include water sports, hiking, picnicking, skiing and snowmobiling. Boat ramp
Hopkinton State Park includes the beautiful Hopkinton Reservoir. Recreational activities including two swimming beaches (staffed by life guards May through Labor Day), stocked fishing, a group picnic site and a dozen shaded, picnic areas with picnic tables and charcoal grills, on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 10 miles of marked trails, open field space and a concrete boat ramp only for canoes and kayaks. Seasonal boat rentals are available. Call 617-299-3392. Restrooms are open except in winter.
Trail system is for all users, including hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and cross country skiers are welcome. Snowmobiles are allowed when snow cover is at least four inches deep.
On busy summer days and holidays, this park may reach its parking capacity and be closed for limited periods of time. For closure updates, follow the park on Twitter at @MassDCR or call 617-626-4973.
Hiking and biking through varied ecosystem
Correllus State Forest occupies over 5,100 acres in the center of Martha's Vineyard. It is best for hiking and cycling on its 15 miles of bicycling and walking paths. It is also the focus of one of the largest environmental restoration projects in the country. Here, visitors can see many rare species and examples of grasslands, heathlands, barrens, and woodlands, dominated by mixed oak-pine. See Trail map
for hiking and biking.
Islands in Boston Harbor, and easy ferry ride from downtown. Swimming, hiking, picnicking. A fun day trip
Thirty-four islands are located an easy ferry ride from downtown Boston comprise the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. Great for day trips, although camping is allowed on four islands (reservations are required). Two islands have great swimming beaches; one is lifeguarded. Wonderful for walking, picnicking, swimming, and fishing. Find a ferry
to the islands.
Season & Hours:
Mid-May to mid-October; see ferry schedule
Learn about camping
, and attractions
at this park.
McCauley Road, off Route 8
North Adams, MA
Remarkable structures in white marble formed by natural forces
This 48-acre park has the only naturally formed white marble arch and man-made white marble dam in North America. The bridge spans Hudson Brook as it twists and tumbles through a steep 60-foot deep gorge. There is an abandoned marble quarry. In the summer months, park interpreters are on hand to explain the natural forces that created the bridge and its more recent history. Explore the area on a quarter-mile walkway above and through the chasm, and a half-mile wooded walking trail.
Open Memorial Day through Columbus Day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking fee is $2. Tables and grills are available for picnicking. Please carry-in, carry-out all trash. Access is limited. Leashed pets permitted. Swimming, rock climbing, defacing rocks, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
Park on fresh water lake; fishing, boat ramp; life guards
Burbank Park is on the shore of Onota Lake. The park has a swimming beach, boat ramp, a fishing pier, picnic areas with grills, and walking path. Lifeguards are on duty in July and August. The park is open year-round. Motor boats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the Onota Boat Livery
, located on Peck’s Road. Fishing derbies are conducted frequently. The park is managed by the city of Pittsfield.
Map of Onota Lake
Dike Road (on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha's Vineyard)
Edgartown, MA, 02539
Magnificent barrier beach with sandy shoreline & salt marsh and pond; good for walking, natural beauty
Chappaquiddick Island is disconnected from Martha’s Vineyard by a narrow strait. Access is by boat or by ferry that shuttles back and forth continuously from a dock in Edgartown. On this lovely and uncrowded island visitors find a sandy beach, salt ponds and meadows, great blue heron and other marsh inhabitants, sandpipers and fishermen casting in the surf. The eastern barrier beach extends seven miles from Wasque Point past the Cape Poge Lighthouse to Cape Poge Gut.
Hiking of moderate difficulty can be done on 14 miles of trails for walkers and over-sand vehicles. Tours of the lighthouse, and kayak and seaside exploration tours are offer daily from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Vans transportation is offered for tour participants directly from the Chappaquiddick side of the ferry landing. Call 508.627.3599 for more information.
Refuge has picnic tables, bike rack, restrooms and potable water by hand pump at the Wasque and Mytoi parking areas. Over sand vehicles are allowed, by permit. Refuge is open at all times and seasons. Some sections may be closed at times to protect nesting birds.
174 Liberty Street
The starting point for the American Revolution happened here. Visitors will enjoy tours, exhibits and talks. Sites include the Minute Man statue and the North Bridge, site of the first shot fired in the Revolution.
Hours: The grounds are open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Parking lot gates close at sunset. North Bridge visitor Center, 174 Liberty Street, Concord, is open daily. Winter hours, from late November to March 30, are 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; regular hours, from April 1 to late November, are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Minute Man Visitor Center, 250 North Great Road, Lincoln, is open April 1 through late November. Hartwell Tavern opens in late May; closes in winter.
177 Forest Street
Forest with two lakes; swimming; fishing; walking trails; views
Breakheart Reservation is a 640-acre hardwood forest with a supervised swimming area at Pearce Lake, one of the few freshwater swimming spots north of Boston.
An extensive trail system through the forest touches many remote areas of the reservation. Popular activities are fishing in Silver and Pearce Lakes, hiking the trails, and wildlife watching by the Saugus River.
Open year-round, dawn to dusk.
Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing
Chester-Blandford State Forest offers a rustic park experience and spectacular Sanderson Brook Falls. Boulder Park features an easy interpretive trail and pavilion. Hike up an easy grade for a mile to see the cascade at Sanderson Brook Falls; hike the Newman Marsh Memorial Trail to the top of Observation Hill. Access is free. Limited number RV sites. Carry-in, carry-out all trash. Be aware of bears. Pets permitted on a leash. Motorized off-road vehicles prohibited. Swimming prohibited at Sanderson Brook Falls.
Season & Hours: Open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Accesited. Swimming prohibited at Sanderson Brook Falls.
Good for scenic landscapes and coastal views; hiking & walking, and fishing.
At Ellisville Harbor State Park, you'll encounter wildlife, the 18th-century Harlow family farmstead, salt marsh, meadows, and a red pine forest. This scenic site is a natural gem on the South Shore coastline. Picnic on the shore and watch the fishing boats go by, or go take a hike and discover the wide variety of natural wonders that await you in this serene spot. Watch for seals in fall and winter!
Good for paddling, hiking & walking; fishing; pets allowed except on beach area
C. M. Gardner State Park is located in the rolling Berkshire foothills along a scenic section of the Westfield River East Branch. In summer the sunlit mountain river here is a delightful spot to relax. A wooded picnic area is available on the banks of the river. Swimming is prohibited. A $2 fee per vehicle is charged from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Season & Hours: The park is open from sunrise until sunset, year-round.
William J. Day Blvd.
South Boston, MA
Bayside string of parks and beaches easily accessible to Boston; walking, swimming, fishing
This urban park consists of a three-mile stretch of parks and beaches along Dorchester Bay, easily accessible from Boston. Carson Beach offers some beautiful views and public amenities. Carson Beach also has a walkway for people to walk, bike, or run along the water's edge from Castle Island to the Kennedy Library.
Season & Hours:
Learn about hiking
at this park.
Cape Street, Route 112
Good for boating, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and winter sports; pets permitted except on sandy beach; non-motorized boats only.
This public forest includes Upper and Lower Highland Lakes, with a swimming beach, picnic area, and group picnic pavilion. There are 15 miles of mixed-use trails through the forest. The campground offers 51 wooded campsites with showers and a private beach. Everyone can enjoy nature in this forest: wheelchair accessible campsites are available. Activities include paddling, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Pets are permitted except on the sandy beach area. Non-motorized boating is available.
Season & Hours:Open year-round, sunrise until sunset.
Admission: There is a $5 fee per vehicle from Memorial Day through mid-September.
York Lake Road
Phone: 413 229-8212
Day area with swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking; parking fee
Within the forests of Sandisfield State Forest is York Lake. The lake has a day use area with a 300-foot beach for swimming (no life guards) and picnicking. There is a boat ramp for kayaks, canoes, and small sail boats. York Lake is stocked with trout three times a year. Other activities including walking and hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. The moderately difficult 2-mile Pond Loop Trail offers scenic views of the lake. Hunters are welcome in season.
Season and Hours: Open year round, sunrise to sunset. Facilities are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
159 Walker Pond Rd.
Sturbridge, MA, 01566
Phone: 508 347-9257
Best for camping and hiking; swimming beach for campers only; 5 miles from Old Sturbridge Village
The major activities at the park in the woods are camping and hiking. The campground has 60 sites. Campers only may use the swimming beach at Walker Pond . The pond also is liked for fishing and canoeing. During the summer, Wells offers guided walks and evening campfire programs. Hiking trails on the property total 10 miles of walking; ORVs may not be used on hiking trails. A well-liked walk goes to the vista at Carpenter Rocks. Wells is five miles by car from Old Sturbridge Village
, a living history museum of New England village life in the 17th century. Trail map
392 Montague Road
Good for boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnics, and swimming.
This 7,566-acre park has plenty of recreational opportunities including two ponds, a cranberry bog, brooks and streams, a ballfield, and the Metacomet-Monadnock hiking Trail. Ruggles Pond, the day-use area, has a restroom, picnic sites, and a swimming beach.
Slab Bridge Road
Phone: 508 644-5522
Walking & hiking, winter sports, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing
On your journey through this large, wooded area, you'll come upon brooks and streams, the rocky silhouette of the legendary Chief Massasoit at Profile Rock, a cranberry bog, and a watershed area. The day use area is near the entrance to the forest and contains a wading pool, picnic sites, open fields, and restrooms. Be aware of hunters, dog sleds, horses, mountain bikers, and snowmobiles in season.
289 Pearl Street
Water sports on pond; walking trails; Nordic skiing and ice skating. Fully wheelchair accessible
This park revolves around a pond, where swimming, fishing and non-motorized boats are allowed. Several walking trails, which also accommodate cross country skiers. Picnicking and playground. In winter, walking trails are available for cross country skiing and ice skating is done on the pond. Often, a wood fire is lit in the visitor center. All activities in the park are wheelchair-accessible.
Parking fees: Cars, $5; annual pass, $35 state resident and $45 out of state resident; free for disable veterans and seniors over age 62 with a Massachusetts Senior Citizen Pass.
Map and trails guide
305 Middleton Road
North Andover, MA, 01845
In-the-forest camping; miles of logging roads for hiking and mountain biking; fishing and paddling (no motor boats)
Harold Parker State Forest is a large property of hardwood and pine forests just 20 miles from Boston. Camping at Lorraine Park campground, at 133 Jenkins Road, is a real in-the-forest experience. There are 89 spread-out camp sites with picnic tables and grills and bathrooms with hot showers. No electrical hookups. Camping is done from late May to early September.
More than 35 miles of logging roads are available to hikers and off-road bikers. Horseback riding is allowed.
Fishing and paddling with canoes and kayaks (no motor boats) are allowed on the forest’s eleven ponds. The property does not offer boat or bike rentals.
South Sandwich Road
Mashpee & Sandwich, MA, 02563
Extensive walking trails among holly and rhododendron gardens; two ponds stocked with fish
Carriage roads and foot trails of moderate difficulty pass around and through groves of holly on this peninsula owned and managed by the Trustees of Reservations. The property has two freshwater ponds, and views of the large, freshwater Mashpee Pond and Wakeby Pond. Both ponds are stocked with fish. Area is good for bird watching. Four miles of walking trails. Seasonal parking is closer to the property than year-round parking.
Open: Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset.
Asbury Street and Ipswich Road
Great for walking, picnicking, enjoying spring flowers; horseback riding. Wading pool for kids
This former estate has many pleasant, shaded walking trails and old carriage roads. Lots of rhododendron bushes blaze in June. The park/estate is bordered on its north end by the Ipswich River, and a kayak and canoe rental business is located just east of the park, on Ipswich Road. There is a wading pool for young children and areas for picnicking. Hunting is allowed at Cleveland Farm. Archery hunting only at Prospect Hill. Horseback riding is allowed on trails, but there are no rentals of horses or equestrian equipment.
Summer trail map.
Salt Pond Visitor Center at Nauset Road and Route 6
Eastham, MA, 02642
Magnificent national park encompasses all shoreline and interior features of Cape Cod
Forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, fresh water ponds, woodlands, cranberry bogs, and historic lighthouses. Many walking and biking trails. Six oceanside swimming beaches are life guarded June through August. Eleven self-guided nature trails are open year-round.
There are two visitor centers: Salt Pond Visitor Center at 50 Doane Road, Eastham, offers orientation movies, a bookstore, a museum, and restrooms. The Visitor Center is near the Nauset Marsh and Buttonbush trails and the Nauset Bicycle Trail. Phone: 508-255-3421.
The Province Lands Visitor Center on Race Point Road, off Route 6, Provincetown, has an observation deck with a 360-degree view of the Province Lands dunes, the Outer Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Exhibits about local plants and animals and the Pilgrims' landing in Provincetown. Phone: 508-487-1256.
Other highlights of the Seashore are the Fort Hill Area off Route 6 (Eastham); the Coast Guard and Nauset Light beaches, Nauset and Three Sisters Lighthouses off Route 6 (Eastham); the Marconi Station Site(Wellfleet); the Highland Lighthouse (Cape Cod Light) and Highland House (Truro); and the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station (Provincetown).
Beach Entrance Fees: Per day vehicle, $15; motorcycle, $5; walker and bicyclists, $3; annual pass, $45
Season & Hours: The Salt Pond Visitor Center (Eastham) is open year-round, daily, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with longer hours in summer. The Province Lands Visitor Center (Provincetown) is open Memorial Day to October 31, daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking lots are open year-round, daily, 6 a.m. to midnight. The park's six swimming beaches are lifeguarded from late June through August. Most restrooms that are not at park visitor centers are open seasonally; closed in winter.
Route 20 and East Brimfield Holland Road
East Brimfield, MA
This large recreation area encompasses the East Brimfield Lake and Holland Pond and the Quinebaug River, which links the two water bodies. It is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Activities include:
Trout fishing from stocked pond; controlled water release in April with canoe races on the Quinebaug River; swimming, boating, and water skiing on East Brimfield Lake; canoeing on the Quinebaug River Canoe Trail from Holland Pond to East Brimfield Lake; hunting for deer, turkey, and other small game; fishing; ice fishing for Northern pike, pickerel, and bass. Facilities include:
Long Pond boat launch
north side of Route 20. Paved; parking for vehicles with boat trailers. Open year round. Ice fishing access.
Reservoir boat ramp
on south side of Route 20. Parking for vehicles with boat trailers. Closed in winter.
Champeaux Road fishing area
off Route 148 at north end of reservoir. Shore fishing area with handicap accessible fishing platforms. Open year round. Ice fishing access.
East Brimfield dam site
at Riverview Ave off Route 20. Scenic overlook of the reservoir and dam. One-half mile nature trail. Motorized vehicles prohibited. Open to Nordic skiers and snow shoeing. Access for shore fishing. Open year round.
Canoe trail launch area
on Pond Bridge Road, where the river flows out of Holland Pond at the upstream end of the canoe trail. Parking and launch at downstream end of trail is available at the Reservor Boat Ramp on Route 20.
Quinebaug River Canoe Trail
is a 5-mile flat water canoe route from Holland Pond to East Brimfield Reservoir. It is a potion of the larger Quinebaug River water trail, a series of paddling sections along the Quinebaug and French Rivers in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Lake Siog recreation area
off Dug Hill Road. Swimming beach, picnic tables and grills. 3/4 mile nature trail. Open Friday-Sunday from June to Labor Day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free admission
Holland Pond boat ramp
is a gravel boat launch ramp on Pond Bridge Road. Parking for vehicles with boat trailers. Open year round. Ice fishing access.
Grand Trunk Trail
has trailhead parking lots on Five Bridge Road and Route 20 in Brimfield. A two-mile long multiple use trail along the former trolley line. Open to snowshoes and cross-country skiing in winter.
East Brimfield Lake nature trail
travels through five acres of open fields and pine-hardwood forest.
Map of East Brimfield Lake
Map of East Brimfield Lake Nature Trail
Map of Holland Pond, Lake Siog, and Quinebaug River
1041 Cascade Street
Good for handicap-accessible recreation, fishing, walking & hiking.
Handicap visitors can enjoy nature freely here, at accessible hiking trails, picnic sites, restrooms, and scenic vistas. Everyone will like the variety of recreational activities this state forest offers, including camping, picnicking, swimming at the beach, and fishing. After a day of hiking and exploring Berry Mountain, take in gorgeous hilltop views of the sunset. Fishing in Berry Pond. Check out the nearby Balance Rock State Park, located in the northeast corner of the forest, to see a unique natural spectacle: a large boulder balanced naturally on another rock.
Season & Hours:
Sunrise - 8 p.m., year-round. $2 parking fee, early May - early September. Park map.
String of urban parks along Charles River offers walking, biking, paddling, boat ramps
Charles River Reservation is a park extending from Boston Harbor up Charles River for 20 miles. The Reservation includes both banks of the river from downtown Boston to Riverdale Park in West Roxbury. It touches recreational properties and parks in Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Weston, Needham, Wellesley, and Dover. Recreation in the reservation includes walking, bicycling, bird watching and water sports like rowing and paddling.
Bicycling and Running Paths:
Dudley White Bike Path
The part of the reservation from downtown Boston to the Watertown Dam is the Charles River Basin, which includes the Esplanade on the Boston side. The esplanade is the location of many outdoor public events, principally the annual July Fourth concert at the Hatch Shell. The Upper Charles River section of the Reservation begins at Watertown Square and extends to Riverdale Park in West Roxbury.
Map of Charles River Basin (PDF)
, 20-mile loop from Science Park to Watertown Square
, Memorial Drive from Eliot Bridge to Western Avenue (Closed to cars and trucks from the last Sunday in April through the second Sunday in November, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m).
off Soldiers Field Road, Brighton.
Daly Recreational Center
, Nonantum Road, Brighton, Newton;
Wellington Yacht Club
, Mystic River, Medford;
, Back Bay, Boston;
, Embankment Road, Boston;
, Back Bay, Boston;
at Nonantum Road, Boston;
off Soldiers Field Road, Brighton;
near Longfellow Bridge, Cambridge;
opposite Magazine Street, Cambridge;
Charles River Dam
at the Museum of Science, Cambridge;
Ice Skating Rink:
Daly Memorial Rink
, Nonantum Road, Brighton. Open November to March. Concessions, skate rentals, lessons. 727-4708.
at Artesani Playground, Soldiers Field Road, Brighton
, North Beacon Street
Dealtry Memorial Pool
, Pleasant Street, Watertown.
Pools are open from June to September. 727-4708.
Scusset Beach Road
Sandwich, MA, 02563
Trailer camping; salt water fishing; biking along Cape Cod Canal
Scusset Beach State Reservation is on Cape Cod Bay at the east end of the Cape Cod Canal. Best for swimming and camping, particularly trailer camping. The camping area has 98 sites, and it is used heavily by trailer campers. Visitors to this reservation love to watch the variety of boats and ships passing through the canal.
For salt water fishermen, there is fish pier, a breakwater, and two miles of frontage along the canal. A picnic area and bicycling along the canal are also available.
Good for vistas, hiking, camping, scenic drives. Roads closed in winter. Lodging in season
This park, at the summit of Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, offers magnificent views, hiking, cross-country ski trails, and a semi-primitive campground. Visit the historic Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit. Primitive camping is available at the Mount Greylock Campground. Bascom Lodge
offers lodging and meals from May to October (call 413-743-1591). The Visitor Center is open year-round.
The roads to the summit are open from late May through November 1; in fall, call ahead for current road conditions. Bascom Lodge and the Veterans War Memorial Tower are open seasonally. The Mount Greylock Campground (primitive overnight area) is accessible by hiking only.
Access to the park is free. Parking fee for the summit parking lot is $5-$6, charged from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Trail map
Long Pond Road
Good for camping, hiking & walking, water activities, and natural science enthusiasts.
This 14,651-acre forest in Plymouth and Carver offers visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Coastal plain "kettle" ponds are carefully preserved ecological gems. There are two Wildlife Management areas, which allow hunting in season, so be aware and wear bright orange in these areas when necessary. There are five camping sites. The College Pond day-use area is a prime spot for a picnic, a dip in the cool waters, fishing, or paddling. There are also 13 miles of hiking trails which take you through the deep woods.
90 Fitchburg Road / Route 31
Forested property with 2 ponds, swimming, fishing, paddling, skiing & snowmobiling. No camping
Leominster State Forest is a 4,300-acre forest with two ponds. People can hike, ride mountain bikes, swim, fish and picnic in summer and to cross country ski and snowmobile in winter. The forest is an easy distance from Boston and Worcester. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, parking fees are charged in the paved parking lots. There is no camping at this forest.
The Midstate Trail passes through the western end of the forest. People may do rock climbing at Crow Hill Ledges. Mountain bikers may not use hiking trails. The terrain for mountain bikers includes unpaved fire roads to single track, multi-use trails. Bikers are supported by the New England Mountain Bike Association
A swimming beach at Crow Hill Pond has two picnic areas with tables, grills, and a bathhouse. Lifeguards are on duty from mid-June until Labor Day. Crow Hill Pond is stocked with trout. Kayakers, canoeists, paddlers and fishermen enjoy Paradise Pond. Winter recreation includes snowmobiling, only on unpaved roads and the multi-use trails.
86 Winchendon Road
Camping, water sports, hiking
Otter River State Forest is a popular camping and day-use property. It encompasses the Lake Dennison Recreation Area, which has swimming, canoeing, and fishing areas. The state forest also has developed facilities on Beaman Pond. There are 85 campsites, including yurt camping; a swimming beach; a ball field; and picnic areas. Trails for hiking and cross-country skiing are available.
Season & Hours: May through October; campground office hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Swimming is permitted in designated areas only from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
175 Mohawk Trail / Route 2
Charlemont, MA, 01339
Good for year-round camping, viewing nature & wildlife, and trout fishing.
This 6,000-acre state forest is steeped in scenic history. Discover naturally formed gorges and ancient trees; most likely, you’ll spot some wildlife on your way. Follow the Mohawk Trail on foot or on a recreational vehicle (season permitting), and follow the sound of the stream to the riverside. Camp in a rustic setting at various sites in any season, or just stay the day and enjoy a picnic by the streambed, watching the fishermen hunt for trout. Swimming in the designated area
Season & Hours:
Year-round, sunrise to sunset. $5 parking fee, May - mid-October.
Motorized off-road vehicles prohibited.
Mount Washington, MA
Good for hiking and picnicking; fishing; leashed pets allowed
Bash Bish Falls has the highest single-drop waterfall in the state. Water tumbles through gorges and a hemlock-hardwood forest. Bash Bish Falls is located next to Mount Washington State Forest, with30 miles of trails, including the South Taconic Trail and wilderness camping. Parking is allowed only at the designated lot. No services are available; anything you carry in, you must carry out of the park. Bring your own grill. Swimming, diving, entry inside the gorge, and rock climbing are prohibited.
Season & Hours: Sunrise to one-half hour after sunset; access is free.
43 Commonwealth Road
Day-use park for water sports; some sports are allowed or prohibited on the 3 sections of the lake
This park is located along the three large, north-south lobes of Cochituate Lake. The northern and middle sections of the lake are divided by the east-west Interstate 90 and State Route 30. The middle and southern sections are split by the east-west State Route 9.
Activities include boating, swimming, and fishing on its three large lakes. Picnicking, swimming, and boat launching are limited to the middle lake, where the main body of the park is located. Boaters may gain access to the other lakes through channels under roadways. Jet skis are not allowed.
On heavy-use weekends, the parking area can reach capacity, requiring temporary closing of the parking lot. For closure updates, follow Twitter at @MassDCR or call the state Department of Conservation and Recreation at 617.626.4973.
Daily parking fee: $8 for Massachusetts vehicle; $10 for out-of-state vehicle
160 Pawtucket Blvd
Park describes the history of this industrial city; also boating, fishing, and walking along esplanade
This park illustrates the life of Lowell’s 19th-centry textile mills. Among the things to see here are a network of canals that furnished power to the textile mills along the water.
The park includes two miles of landscaped esplanade where summer concerts take place, and a Victorian garden in the downtown. To get access to the walking paths, park at Rynne Bathouse at 160 Pawtucket Blvd.
The park offers swimming and boating in the Merrimack River. Boating access to the Merrimack River is at the Rourke Brothers State Boat Ramp on Route 113. It has 44 trailer lots and 20 car-top lots. The entrance to the ramp is across from 1011 Pawtucket Blvd. and one-half mile west of the Rourke Bridge. There is an easy walking trail of 1.5 miles in length along the Lowell Esplanade. Park at Rynne Bathouse located at 160 Pawtucket Blvd.
Note that Lowell National Historical Park, operated by the National Park Service, is a similar but separate entity from Lowell Heritage State Park.