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When you consider its historical attractions, scenic roads, and variety of landscapes, it’s easy to understand why Massachusetts is a popular tourist destination. If you consider its place in history as one of the original thirteen colonies and the landing place of the Mayflower, you might even say it’s held that title for centuries.
Besides its rich history, Massachusetts has a lot to offer, especially in the summertime. With the Atlantic Ocean along its entire east coast, for many communities there is always a beach only a short drive away. In even greater numbers are its many state parks and reservations, each with their shares of lakes, waterfalls, and rivers. As a state that takes pride in the great outdoors, most parks are well-maintained with trails that are kept clean, safe, and routinely inspected.
At BRZ, we believe fresh air and sunshine is medicine for the soul so we are sharing our top 9 state parks you’ll want to explore this summer (and all year long!)
177 Forest St., Saugus, MA 01906
Don’t let the name fool you! Breakheart Reservation spans across 652 acres throughout the towns of Saugus and Wakefield. This public park has two freshwater lakes, a portion of the Saugus River, and great climbs with incredible views of the North Shore and Boston from the tops of its rocky hills. It is family friendly, with trails that are suitable for all ages. Best of all, it is only a 20 minute drive north of Boston with a main entrance just minutes off of the highway, making it an easy day trip for those living in or around the Greater Boston area.
4 Gott Avenue, Rockport, MA 01966
Halibut State Park is in coastal Rockport, a town we highly recommend for a day trip! You can hike easily walkable trails, check out the rocks and tide pools along the beach, and explore a spectacular granite quarry, which you can learn all about on a tour. In clear weather, you can see Mount Agamenticus in Maine or the Isles of Shoals, which are off the coast of New Hampshire. This picturesque coastal state park is a must see if you love coastal climates.
252 Ipswich Road, Topsfield, MA 01983
With this recommendation, you get a two-for-one deal, as these protected grounds are adjacent to one another in the same area. Willowdale State Forest is a Massachusetts state forest with 40 miles of hiking trails that are managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. It sits on the Ipswich River right across from Bradley Palmer State Park, which boasts 721 acres of land. Either of these reservations will have you experience the peace and tranquility we seek in nature, with acres and acres of meadows, rolling hills, some decent climbs, babbling brooks, and incredible trails for trail biking.
725 Hillside St., Milton, MA 02186
These hills are anything but blue, but that’s besides the point. With 7,000 acres of incredible trails spanning across Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham, the Blue Hills Reservation should be on everybody’s summer bucketlist. While a fantastic choice for families with younger ages, there are also trails for the more avid climber, with lots of different terrain and inclines. The popular Skyline Loop will bring you up to multiple summits including the Great Blue Hill, which is the tallest peak in the reservation and provides stunning views of the Boston skyline (hence the name!)
915 Walden St., Concord, MA 01742
One stroll through the Walden Pond State Reservation and you’ll experience the same tranquility and connection to nature that inspired the writing of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. You can even visit a replica of Thoreau’s small cabin! Enjoy a day of swimming in the pond, leisurely nature walks, and reconnecting with the earth.
345 Mountain Road, Princeton, MA 01541
Wachusett is famous for its slopes, but with 3000 acres to hike, bike, and explore, this mountainous state park can be enjoyed all year long. The best part, the views at the peak of the 2,006 foot mountain are breathtaking. If you love nature but not enough to hike all the way, you can drive right up to the top and explore on your own terms.
198 Purgatory Rd., Sutton, MA 01590
With a name like Purgatory Chasm, we’re going to have to ask you to just trust us on this one. With towering cliffs, jagged stones, ravines, and sweeping views, this place is otherworldly and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. If you’re traveling from Greater Boston, you’ll be especially surprised after a totally unsuspecting drive. You just won’t expect the sudden contrast from when you begin the quarter mile hike. We strongly recommend non-slip, sturdy shoes, especially after rain fall. Please note that while the hike itself is family friendly with the right shoes, you will want to make sure you keep a close eye on little ones.
30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA 01237
The very first state park in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock Reservation has over 50 miles of trails with climbs that deliver incredible views of not one or two but five states! There are trails for all experience levels and all kinds of outdoors activities, including camping. If you’re really ambitious, you can hike up Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts.Be sure to grab a trail map and get started as early as possible to enjoy all that this popular state reservation has to offer.
Cold River Road, Charlemont, MA 01339
Mohawk Trail State Forest is the kind of place you go when you want to see nature as nature intended. It makes our list as one of the most scenic woodland areas, with over 6,000 acres of mountainous terrain, hills and valleys, and miles of hiking trails. If you just can’t get enough, there are 47 campsites to choose from, including log cabins that you can reserve. Spend the day or longer to unplug from the city bustle and enjoy the raw nature of Massachusetts.
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