One of the oldest states in the United States, Massachusetts offers many wonderful state parks for visitors to enjoy. With a wide and diverse region, Massachusetts offers state park visitors beaches, woodlands, sheer rock formations, parkways, miles of trails and breathtaking vistas. State parks are divided into five regions, Boston, Central, North, West and South. Each area offers remarkably different scenery, activities and interpretive programs. Visitors and residents who plan to visit state parks in Massachusetts should dress accordingly, and bring sun screen and pest control when visiting in the Spring and summer months. Most state parks charge a nominal entrance fee, and many offer both primitive camping and cabin rentals for those who wish to spend more than a day exploring the park. Amenities and recreational areas vary from one state park to the next, so it is a good idea to select the park that best meets the recreational need and fitness level of the visitor.
Famous writer and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, lived for a time on Walden Pond. While living there, Thoreau produced the book named after the lake that continues to inspire generations. As a part of Thoreau’s legacy, his cabin and the surrounding area was dedicated as a historic landmark and is often referred to as the birthplace of conservationism. Park interpreters are available to lead tours and answer questions. Visitors enjoy visiting the kettle hole, which is a 102 feet deep pond. 335 acres of the park are available for visitors to experience.
Purgatory Chasm State Park
Granite walls rising as high as 70 feet typify this state park in Massachusetts. Purgatory Chasm is thought to have been formed when glacial meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age was released in a large surged. Trails in the park wind through many of the glacier-carved rock formations, including places called the Coffin, Lover’s Leap, the Corn Crib and Fat Man’s Misery.
Natural Bridge State Park
The rock formations in this Massachusetts park were carved out over 500 million years ago. Visitors can view the natural marble structures, which are unique to North America. With the change of climate during the last Ice Age, the meltwaters shaped and compressed limestone in the area to produce crystalline formations that visitors find breathtaking. A natural marble bridge was part of this process and spans the Hudson Brook Chasm in the park.
Halibut Point State Park
Situated on the farthest end of Cape Ann, the area is a place where prevailing winds abruptly shift causing sailors to have to “haul-about” the sails. As a result, this is how the area was given its name. This state park is located on a beautiful New England coastline, with approximately 55 acres open to the public. Halibut Point is open throughout the year and offers trails, sweeping views, tidepools and shorelines. Rangers are on hand to offer various events throughout the year.
Nickerson State Park
Cape Cod offers visitors one of the most beautiful parks in the state. Nickerson Park offers many trails winding through woodlands, around kettle ponds and near interesting rock formations. The 1,900-acre park offers visitors trails for cross country skiing, horseback riding and mountain biking. Fishing, camping and canoeing are all enjoyed at this state park as well.
Mount Greylock State Park
Mount Greylock, perched at 3,491 feet, is the highest point in the state. Located in the Berkshires, those standing at Mount Greylock’s summit can see up to 90 miles on a clear day. This was one of the first state parks in Massachusetts. Full of rugged, natural beauty and spectacular sunsets/sunrises, the park is open for visitors from May through November. Road conditions can sometimes make traveling to the summit prohibitive, so visitors are asked to always check first before visiting. A war memorial tower is located at the top of the mountain and marks the highest point on the mountain.
Bash Bish Falls State Park
Located in the western part of the state, this park is home to Massachusetts’ highest waterfall. Hikers can take the two-mile trail to the bottom of the waterfall and enjoy the spray, or hike to the highest point in the park and see portions of New York’s landscape in the distance. At the end of the gorge, opposite of the waterfall, there is a 194-foot sheer cliff face. Bish Bash State Park is between two other state parks, Mount Washington State Forest, and Taconic State Park in New York.
Mount Washington State Forest
This majestic mountain range forms a triangle where the states of NY, CT and NY meet. A large 12-mile trail loop takes hikers through several different areas in the Mount Washington area. The park offers 30 miles in managed trails. Each trail is listed in the park for its difficulty and the fitness level required of the hiker. Hiking to the top of the Mount Alander Trail rewards hikers with a 2,250-foot view overlooking the valley. Visitors can camp, hike, horseback ride, hunt, enjoy mountain biking, and fishing. In the winter, many visitors enjoy cross-country skiing.