A Guide to the Best State Parks in Massachusetts

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Looking for the best state parks in Massachusetts? While MA might be small, it offers an impressive variety of landscapes and scenery to enjoy. There are more than 150 state parks managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation…so let’s get out there and enjoy them!

Wherever you are in the state, you’ll undoubtedly be near a protected area. Some offer more amenities than others, so where you go will depend on what you’d like to do there.

From picnic pavilions to visitor centers and museums, there are options for families to enjoy free entertainment or educational opportunities.

Active folks can go hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and so much more!

The Mass state parks truly offer something for everyone.

You might also like our guide to the best beaches in Massachusetts and be sure to check out the waterfalls in MA, too!

Starting in Boston and working our way west, here are the state parks in Massachusetts you should go check out today.

MA State Parks Near Boston

Alewife Brook Reservation

The 160-acre Alewife Brook Reservation is a must-see if you are in the Boston area. 

Alewife Brook Reservation (Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge) is a dog-friendly urban forest brimming with wildlife, wetlands, and trails to explore. 

There is nowhere to park at the park itself, but you will find plenty of parking at the Alewife MBTA station nearby. 

You will find this park to be an alcohol-free zone, with activities like hiking, fishing, and tennis. 

Chestnut Hill Reservation

Enjoy a day taking in mother nature at the historical Chestnut Hill Reservation (355 Chestnut Hill Ave, Brighton).

The reservation was built in the 1860s to provide Boston with clean drinking water; the waterworks system has since been disabled, but the beautiful rural park remains.

You will find this park to be dog-friendly and packed full of activities to make a full day out of your visit. 

There are parking spots available on the street, as well as restrooms, a swimming pool, ice skating, and a 1.5-mile trail. 

Roxbury Heritage State Park

Roxbury Heritage State Park (183 Roxbury Street, Boston) is a historical park with the Dillaway-Thomas House welcoming guests. 

This site was the headquarters for the Continental Army and now serves as a museum situated on an acre of land overlooking the Boston skyline. 

This is definitely one of the best state parks in MA for history buffs!

You will find an educational museum to learn about US history, beautifully landscaped grounds to explore, and restrooms available for guests. 

The grounds are open to guests every day from 9 am to 5:30 pm, with a small parking lot available and additional street parking if needed. 

Central Massachusetts State Parks

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park

You can spend the entire day exploring the 1000 acres of Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park (287 Oak Street, Uxbridge) and still not see it all! 

The park is dog-friendly, accessible to all, and offers free parking within the park. 

Activities you can find in this park include hiking, fishing, horseback riding, canoeing, and picnicking.

You can also explore the historical site in the park, as well as the visitor center; you can join educational programs there, too. 

Callahan State Park

If you like taking your dog to check out new parks, then Callahan State Park (1048 Edmands Road, Framingham) is perfect. 

Situated on 1000 acres of land, you will find 7 miles of trails, as well as ponds and even a dog park. 

People usually use this Mass state park as a place to connect with nature through hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and enjoying the ponds. 

There is free parking within the park entrance, and restrooms are also available. 

Douglas State Forest

A 5,907-acre park bordering the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island, everyone finds something to love about Douglas State Forest (107 Wallum Lake Road, Douglas).

This park allows you to explore the rare Atlantic White Cedar Swampland.

Activities include horseback riding, biking, boating, and so much more.

There is a wheelchair-accessible beach, it is dog friendly, and there are ample paid parking spaces. 

You will also find picnic areas complete with grills and pavilions for shelters and restrooms available to use. 

North Shore State Parks 

Bradley Palmer State Park

Located next to the Ipswich River, Bradley Palmer State Park (40 Asbury Street, Topsfield) spreads an impressive 721-acres of nature at its best. 

The park is named after Bradley Palmer, an attorney in the early 1900s; he represented big clients during World War I.

You can learn all about him and his impact on the area during your visit. 

You will find the Willowdale Estate situated in the park, which is perfect for a wedding or an impromptu photo session. 

There is paid parking available within the park and tons of activities you can partake in like hiking, biking, cross country skiing, horseback riding, and canoeing. 

Bradley Palmer Park is accessible to all, dog-friendly, and equipped with restrooms and picnic areas. 

Georgetown-Rowley State Forest

Georgetown-Rowley State Forest (Route 97, Georgetown) is a sprawling forest covering over 1000 acres and found near the towns of Amesbury, Andover, and Bedford. 

You can enjoy year-round activities, including skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, and biking. 

No alcohol is allowed in the park, but dogs are very welcome and you can find parking near Pingree Farm Road. 

Halibut Point State Park

A park that is accessible to all, dog-friendly, and ready to be explored, Halibut Point State Park (4 Gott Avenue, Rockport) is a terrific way to spend your day. 

The park has a rich history surrounding World War II and the Cape Ann Granite industry, which you can learn about in the visitor center. 

There are plenty of activities to fill your day, including hiking, bird watching, taking in the scenic views, and exploring the tide pools. 

There is paid parking available in the park from May to October, and restrooms are available to park guests. 

During your visit, you can also explore the rest of Rockport and find many things to do.

Aerial view of Halibut Point State Park in Rockport Massachusetts

Lawrence Heritage State Park

If you are interested in learning about American history, this park is perfect for you.

Located in the town of Lawrence (the first planned city in the US), Lawrence Heritage State Park (1 Jackson Street, Lawrence) features a visitor center where you can learn all about this significant city. 

The park features various fields to play sports in, a playground, restrooms, a museum, and a picnic area. 

It is also dog-friendly and offers paid parking behind the visitor center located on Mill Street, with a small private parking garage on Appleton Street. 

The North Shore offers tons of great options for day trips from Boston, so be sure to explore this lovely area!

State Parks on the South Shore & the Cape

Ames Nowell State Park

Located in the town of Abington, Ames Nowell State Park (Linwood street) is a peaceful park full of opportunities to slow down and enjoy the scenery. 

People like to walk the trails around Cleveland Pond or enjoy a day on the pond fishing. 

You will also find people enjoying activities like horseback riding, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and having a picnic. 

The picnic area is equipped with pavilions, grills, and restrooms.

There is no alcohol allowed in the park, dogs are welcome, and a parking lot is found in the park. 

Nickerson State Park

With 2,000 acres to explore, you’ll love spending time in Nickerson State Park (3488 Main St) in Brewster, MA.

Situated in the Lower Cape, Nickerson is definitely one of the best Massachusetts state parks and makes for a perfect day trip from anywhere from Ptown to Mashpee.

Check out our guide to the best beaches in Ptown while you’re in the area!

At Nickerson State Park, there are bike trails to enjoy or you can go swimming in freshwater ponds.

If you want to hike, this area offers a surprising display of pine and oak trees just beyond the sandy stretches of shoreline.

Check out our guide to camping in Provincetown for more details on staying in the park!

Pine trees in Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod Massachusetts

Southeastern Mass State Parks

Dighton Rock State Park

The town of Berkley is home to Dighton Rock State Park (3rd Avenue, Berkley). 

If you are looking for the perfect spot to picnic, you will find beautiful grassy areas, large trees for shade, and peace and quiet in this park to enjoy your day. 

There is an appointment-only museum in Dighton Rock State Park to learn about the area’s history and mysterious rock carvings found in the park. 

You can enjoy free parking in the park, dogs are welcome, and restrooms are available. 

Activities like hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and kayaking are also enjoyed at Dighton Rock State Park. 

Fall River Heritage State Park

Found along the Taunton River, Fall River Heritage State Park (Davol Street, Fall River) has breathtaking views and is packed full of history. 

You can learn about and see the battleships of World War II in Battleship Cove when you stop at the visitor center in the park. 

Enjoy activities like taking a scenic stroll along the river and even sailing!

There is free parking in the park, dogs are allowed, restrooms are available, and there is a picnic area to enjoy. 

Note that no alcohol is allowed.

Best State Parks in Western Mass

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough) runs 90 miles through Massachusetts on its 2,175-mile-long journey. 

If you’re an avid hiker, check out our guide to the best East Coast hikes for plenty of great options.

From the AT in Massachusetts, you can enjoy scenic views from Mount Everett found in the south or Mount Greylock on the northern part of the trail. 

You can also set up a campsite overnight. 

These are dog-friendly trails, and there is paid parking available to people using the Appalachian Trail. 

View from the top of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts in the fall

Bash Bish Falls State Park

Bash Bish Falls State Park boasts the biggest waterfall in Massachusetts at nearly 200 feet high.

Located in Mt. Washington, this park is along the border with New York so there are several unique access points for trails.

There is free parking in the Falls Road parking lot on the Mt. Washington side, but it is limited.

Restrooms are available from May through mid-October.

If you’re not into hiking, another popular option is fishing — just obtain a MA permit.

Unfortunately, the trails to the falls are not accessible.

Get more info on the Bash Bish Falls hike and viewing options in our waterfalls of Massachusetts guide.

Bash Bish Falls in Massachusetts on an autumn day

Beartown State Forest

Open year-round, Beartown State Forest (69 Blue Hill Road, Monterey) is another of the lovely Massachusetts state forests.

With 12,000 acres to explore, you’ll be able to visit again and again and always see something new! 

You can witness mother nature up close and personal at Benedict Pond when you go for a swim or, as you explore the trails, keep an eye out for wildlife like bears and bobcats. 

Dogs are more than welcome in the park, but not on the beach.

You can set up a campsite for the night at this park.

Other activities people enjoy at Beartown State Forest are cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, biking, horseback riding, canoeing, and kayaking. 

The park is accessible to everyone and provides picnic areas, restrooms, and paid parking. 

Chicopee Memorial State Park

One of the more popular parks, Chicopee Memorial Park (570 Burnett Road, Chicopee), is a perfect spot to cool off in the summer heat. 

The Chicopee Reservoir offers a reprieve from a sweltering summer day and you can also make use of the picnic area to spend the day at the park. 

There is a parking area that requires payments from mid-May to Labor Day; the park does fill up fast and closes once capacity is reached, so getting there early is ideal. 

You can also explore the park by hiking the trails, biking the paved bike paths, cross-country skiing, and fishing. 

The park offers restrooms, picnic areas, pavilions, and grills, and is also dog friendly.

Mount Tom State Reservation

You are in for a fun day when you visit Mount Tom State Reservation (125 Reservation Road, Holyoke), full of wildlife and perfect for bird-watching, you will likely see a few hawks. 

There are 22 miles of trails to enjoy while taking in the stunning views overlooking the Pioneer Valley. 

There is paid parking available from mid-May to mid-October, with discounted fees for MA residents (based on your license plate).

The park is also dog friendly.

Mount Tom State Reservation offers picnic areas, a playground, a nature center, ice skating, and educational programs.

Note that there is a Mount Tom State Park located in Connecticut; be careful with your GPS!

Final Words

Do you love exploring the MA state parks as much as we do? Share your local favorites in the comments below!

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