No matter where you travel within Massachusetts, you are bound to come across a fantastic park. Massachusetts is home to so many gorgeous parks -too many to count! Year round recreation, from hiking and biking in the spring and summer months to cross country skiing in the winter months, await you in beautiful Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is one of the most heavily forested US states (it’s 8th on the list which 62% of the state covered with spectacular forested lands), leading to endless recreational opportunities. Even within a short radius of Boston, you can still explore tremendous parks. No matter which part of the state you visit, whether inland, coastal, or near a big city, there is a beautiful forest waiting for you.
Take a look at a few of my favorite parks in the state and feel free to add a few suggestions of your own!
1. Blue Hills Reservation
Blue Hills Reservation, one of the biggest and best parks in the Boston area, is the #1 place for year-round recreation. Just 20 miles away from the city, Blue Hills is easy accessible to both locals and tourists. This is the place to escape the city without truly venturing that far away. Where else can you be so close to the city, yet so far away?
Over 125 miles of beautiful hiking trails will keep you occupied all spring, summer, and fall. If you are limited on time, be sure to check out the Skyline Loop, an amazing uphill trail which leads you to a scenic observation tower. Here, you are treated to fabulous views of the city and beautiful forests of New England. An excellent hike for photography! During the hike, you will also pass the Blue Hill Weather Observatory, which happens to be the oldest in the US!
Fall foliage chairlift rides
During the spectacular fall season, be sure to take a scenic fall foliage chairlift ride at Blue Hills Ski Area. The colors are absolutely amazing! And, the views from the overlook are stunning! The winter season provides a fantastic opportunity to get out your skis and check out the trails. This is the closest skiing area to Boston and a great alternative to making the 3-4 hour trip to Vermont or New Hampshire.
2. Myles Standish State Forest
One of Massachusetts’ best state parks lies about an hour south of Boston in beautiful Plymouth county. This expansive 15,000 acre park offers a serene, idyllic setting. Myles Standish is one of the area’s largest parks, offering a diverse range of activities throughout the year.
A leaf peeping hotspot!
Fall is the idea time to visit. This time of the year, the temps are absolutely perfect, the trees are alive with color, and scattered leaves cover the trails. That perfect New England fall feeling is in the air. The park’s many ponds provide a majestic setting for fall photography.
Within the park, you will find an extensive trail system. 15 miles of beautiful pine tree lined hiking and biking trails will help you relax at the same time as you are getting in a workout. The setting is quiet and reflective. Along the way, you will make your way across old pine forests as you wind around lakes and ponds.
Don’t rule out a winter visit. Myles Standish is one of the top spots in Southeast Massachusetts for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The pines are beautiful when covered with snow. The icy lakes and ponds offer a quiet place to take photography. Although the weather will be brisk, the peacefulness of a wintertime stroll through one of the most scenic parks in the state just can’t be duplicated.
3. Great Island Trail
11 gorgeous hiking trails are included in the Cape Cod National Seashore trail system. The most beautiful of them all is the Great Island Trail, an amazing 8 mile loop which passes a variety of diverse landscapes, including: beaches, forests, marshes, and sand dunes. A secluded beach on the return route provides the ultimate solitary escape with barely a soul in site.
Here is a trail like no other. The feeling of being on your own is like nowhere else. Being surrounded by such beautiful landscapes in such a desolate setting helps you truly appreciate nature. This trail is never overpopulated especially during the slower spring and fall seasons. Taking a scenic hike like this through the unspoiled wilderness of Massachusetts is the best way to truly appreciate the beauty of the Cape Cod area.
4. Middlesex Fells Reservation
Just a short 10 or 15 minute drive North of Boston in the town of Medford, you will come across beautiful Middlesex Fells Reservation. Miles and miles of incredible trails are found within this gorgeous natural wonder. You will be surrounded by pristine nature at every corner, so much so that you will forget that you are so close to the city. That is until you reach the beautiful overlook on the Skyline Trail where you will experience some of the top views of Boston.
Middlesex Fells offers a bit of everything: relaxation, healthy exercise opportunities, and a of course excellent views! Take some time out of your busy schedule to relax and enjoy this rural escape.
5. Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
Great Neck, a little known gem in Plymouth County, is worthy of a visit anytime of the year. 4 miles of pine forest filled trails lead way to the perfect hiking environment. Trails are quiet, scenic, and filled with wildlife (the habitat provides a home to several rare species including the great horned owl).
A beautiful marsh at the end of the trail is the perfect break before completing the return route. One of the few hikes that is still incredibly scenic, even during the barren winter season.
If you ever find yourself visiting Wareham, you must carve out an hour or 2 to visit this picturesque refuge.
6. Massasoit State Park
Southeastern Massachusetts is home to several great parks, including 1500 acre Massasoit State Park in East Taunton. This beautiful, heavily wooded park offers several miles of peaceful hiking trails. Nice peaceful views of the woods and lakes provide a relaxing setting for early morning strolls. A relaxing weekend stroll at Massasoit is the perfect low key exercise idea. Pack a picnic lunch to take advantage of the peaceful setting.
Although visiting anytime of the year is great, fall is a particularly spectacular time to visit. Not only are many of the trees alive with color, but you will also get a glimpse of the cranberry bogs.
Additionally, camping, fishing, and kayaking on Lake Rico (no rentals-bring your own) are popular park activities.
Massasoit is a must-see when visiting Southeast Massachusetts. Beautiful walks along with plenty of gorgeous photography opportunities await your visit!
7. Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge
Although only 2 miles of hiking trails exist at this Taunton refuge, they happen to be very peaceful with gorgeous views of various ponds and the Three Mile River. Most of the trail follows the scenic path of the river, and as you can imagine the views are terrific. The paths are very flat, allowing for a leisurely stroll along the grounds.
Birdwatching along with plenty of landscape photography opportunities round out a day at the park. A picnic lunch in the relaxed natural setting of the refuge is the perfect way to end your morning at the park.
8. Caratunk Wildlife Refuge
The Providence-Fall River metro area is home to a number of fantastic parks and preserves which offer fantastic hiking opportunities. One of the best options lies in Seekonk, a small community located just 10 minutes outside of Providence.
Caratunk Wildlife Refuge is great for summer, spring, and fall hiking and winter snowshoeing. Here you can enjoy views of beautiful tall trees, lots of small streams and ponds, and absolutely no traffic noise! Birds and other small wildlife are found along the trails. With 6 miles of peaceful trails that are suitable for all activity levels, Caratunk is the top choice in the area for year-long fun and recreation.
- Blue Hills Reservation – 695 Hillside St. Milton, MA 02186
- Myles Standish State Forest – 194 Cranberry Rd. Carver, MA 02366
- Great Island Trail – Griffin Island Rd. Wellfleet, MA 02667
- Middlesex Fells Reservation – S. Border Rd. Medford, MA 02155
- Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary – Stockton Short Cut St, Wareham, MA 02571
- Massasoit State Park – 1361 Middleboro Ave, East Taunton, MA 02718
- Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge – 1298 Cohannet Street, Taunton, MA 02780
- Caratunk Wildlife Refuge – 301 Brown Ave, Seekonk, MA 02771