State Parks in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is celebrated for its spectacular natural open space, and luckily, nearly all state parks and forests are free or very affordable. Here are 12 wonderful state parks, some are close to the city and others are treasures that are further afield but definitely worth the trip. While I'm often selfishly reluctant to share hidden gems that my family loves, most of these amazing places will not suffer from more visitors!

Inside Route 495

1. Cochituate, Natick

My family just enjoyed a fantastic afternoon at this very popular park, where you can rent canoes or kayaks, swim, barbecue, hike, or sail.

2. Beaver Brook, Belmont

Besides the well-known spray park and playground, the park (which is one of the oldest state reservations) also has waterfalls, miles of hiking and cross country ski trails, a bike path, and fishing. Adjacent to beautiful open space properties run by Belmont and Waltham.

3. Boston Harbor Islands, Boston

Part of a national recreation area, you can take a quick ferry to many of the 34 islands which hold lighthouses, beaches, and the remains of a Civil War fort. A spectacular location for a picnic, my son also loves just watching the air traffic from nearby Logan Airport.

4. Myles Standish, South Carver

A unique coastal location featuring cranberry bogs, vast pine forests, and kettle ponds, this park is host to equestrian trails, fishing, and boating.

5. Walden Pond, Concord

A must for first-time visitors and out of town friends, Walden Pond is more than just a swimming area. An easy hike for all ages and the site of Thoreau's time in the woods, the property is only a few minutes from the deCordova, Drumlin and Codman farms, and historic Concord.

6. Borderland State Park, Easton

If Downton Abbey is your thing, Borderland State Park might be the perfect state park to visit. An on-site mansion open for tours, as well as horseback riding and hiking trails, you’ll think you stepped back in time…until you get to the disc golf facilities that is.

 Here are 12 wonderful state parks in Massachusetts; some are close to the city and others are treasures that are further afield but definitely worth the trip.

Here are 12 wonderful state parks in Massachusetts; some are close to the city and others are treasures that are further afield but definitely worth the trip.

Far-flung hidden treasures

7. Willard Brook, Ashby

I spent many happy summer afternoons during my childhood swimming in the cool water of this beautiful swimming area. The campground is one of several state properties featuring (accessible) camping in yurts.

8. Beartown Forest, Monterey

A favorite of my family for the exciting wildlife sightings (we've seen bear, moose, porcupine, fox, and turkeys, just to name a few!), the numerous hiking trails at this vast property are cool in the summer and spectacular during foliage season and winter. The Appalachian Trail meanders through this property.

9. Waquoit Bay, Falmouth

South Cape Beach State Park is the state-run accessible beach and campground part of the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which offers marine and environmental education programs alongside its research efforts.

10. Horseneck Beach, Westport

Offering an amazing opportunity to camp at one of the state's most beautiful beaches, this location is also wheelchair/stroller accessible.

11. Bash Bish Falls, South Egremont

Featuring the highest drop cascade in the state, this glorious series of gorges and waterfalls offers the extra bonus of being connected to both the Mount Everett State Reservation and New York's Taconic State Park.

12. Mount Greylock, Lanesborough

Whether you’re a novice hiker or ready for an “extremely difficult” trek up to the highest point in Massachusetts, the variety of trail difficulty makes Mount Greylock the perfect spot. In addition to hiking, they also offer trails for mountain biking and spots for overnight camping.

Do you have other favorite Massachusetts state parks? Feel free to share in the comments below!