12 Awesome Massachusetts State Parks You Simply Must Visit in 2023

One of the best ways to experience New England is by going outside and seeing the true beauty that it has to offer. The same can be said when visiting Massachusetts.

We’ve rounded up the very best Massachusetts state parks that you won’t want to miss out on, whether you’re looking for great hiking in the mountains or beaches on the coast!

The MA state parks in this post are in no particular order. Each is worth visiting during a trip to Massachusetts!

Every park on this list has its own charm. Some of these Massachusetts state parks are mainly summer destinations while others are top winter activity spots in the state.

Keep reading to learn all about some of the top, can’t miss Massachusetts state parks!

Must Visit Massachusetts State Parks

Great Brook Farm State Park

red barn by a lake
Editorial credit: Yingna Cai / Shutterstock.com

First up on this list of the top state parks in Massachusetts is Great Brook Farm State Park.

It’s located in Carlisle and is one of the more unique parks to visit in the state because it’s home to a dairy farm that’s still in use today!

This park is 1000 acres, so it’s relatively large compared to other state parks in Massachusetts. It’s a great one to visit if you’re interested in seeing historic Native American sites and other historical spots that were left by the English.

There are many activities within this MA state park, like hiking, cross country skiing, fishing, mountain biking, and even horseback riding. Visit on the weekend to get a free tour of the dairy farm!

In addition to all of the fun activities, some facilities and programs are right at Great Brook Farm State Park. There are restrooms, a visitor center, picnic spots, grills for public use, and even educational programs.


Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park

waterfall under a grey sky

Next up is Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, which is located in Uxbridge. This MA state park is more on the underrated side, but that doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked!

This state park is also about 1000 acres of land. Throughout the park, you can find tons of fun trails for both biking and hiking and even a lake where you can go canoeing or fishing when the weather is warm.

If you’re looking for an excellent trail in the park, don’t miss out on the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage Trail.

This trail takes about 2.5 hours to hike but is easily one of the most popular ones to do in the park. It’s 5.6 miles round trip and is rated as easy.


Natural Bridge State Park

marble rock formation surrounded by greenery

Though many people miss out on visiting western Massachusetts, Natural Bridge State Park is one of the parks you won’t want to miss out on.

Located in North Adams and famous for its natural bridge that is made out of white marble it’s truly a sight to see.

Believe it or not, but the marble bridge is the only one of its kind on the entire continent, which is why it’s worth stopping by this park. You never know how long it’s going to last, so take the trip while you can!

Another great thing to do while in the park is to tour the marble quarry that has been abandoned. There’s even a white marble dam that was manmade that visitors can stop by.

In addition to checking out all of the natural landmarks, other fun activities in Natural Bridge State Park include fishing, hiking, and educational programs for those who would like to learn more about the area.

If you’re looking for a nice hike, don’t miss out on the Natural Bridge Trail!


Ellisville Harbor State Park

person cross country skiing in the snow

Another of the top must visit Massachusetts state parks is Ellisville Harbor State Park in Plymouth.

This is definitely one of the smallest state parks in all of Massachusetts, as it’s less than 100 acres. However, that doesn’t mean it should be skipped over!

The park is located right on the South Shore, which is why it’s small. This is a great place to stop at if you’d like to picnic right by the water or even watch seals that you can often see hanging around in the water. This park is beautiful in the winter months.

Other fun activities within Ellisville Harbor State Park include hiking, fishing, and cross-country skiing.

The best hike in the park is Ellisville Harbor State Park Trail, which is an easy trail less than one mile long. It’s kid-friendly, and dogs are allowed on a leash.

Be sure to try some of the local restaurants in Plymouth during your trip!


Joseph Allen Skinner State Park

view from mount washington of the river and landscape

Joseph Allen Skinner State Park is located in Hadley and is a beautiful state park near Holyoke. It is also often just goes by Skinner State Park, which is what some of the locals will call it.

The best thing to do in the park is to reach the Mt. Holyoke Summit, which is at 942 feet of elevation. There’s also a summit house that you can visit that’s only open in the summer months, so plan your trip wisely if you wish to visit it.

In addition to reaching the summit, other great activities within Joseph Allen Skinner State Park include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, hang gliding, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. The possibilities are endless at this gorgeous Massachusetts state park!

Facilities are abundant at the park and include picnic areas, a visitor center, viewing areas, grills for public use, and of course, restrooms.


South Cape Beach State Park

empty sandy beach

South Cape Beach State Park is located in Mashpee and is actually considered to be in Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. As the name suggests, it’s right on the water, so the main attraction here is the beach.

In addition to swimming and relaxing along the water, other great activities in South Cape Beach State Park include hiking, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. There are restrooms, grills, and picnic areas for guests to enjoy during their day.

The park is most popularly visited during the summer, of course, so expect those Cape Cod summer crowds!

Read Next: 21 Best Beaches on Cape Cod


Maudslay State Park

Maudslay State Park is located in picturesque Newburyport, and this is a popular MA state park for several reasons! Situated along the Merrimack River, this is a particularly scenic area in the fall.

Once a  private estate, there are many interesting trails, old stone bridges, and even a 19th-century garden for visitors to explore as they visit this gorgeous state park!

Plus, a visit to Newburyport is always a great time.


Halibut Point State Park

rocky coastline with blue water

Located in Rockport, Halibut Point State Park is one of the best Massachusetts state parks to visit, whether you’re a local or a tourist.

This state park is known for its history (which dates back to World War II), great hiking trails, and beautiful coastal scenery. Some of the things to do in the park include fishing, bird watching, and of course, picnicking.

The most popular thing to do in the park is to hike the Halibut Point Trail! This is an easy, kid-friendly trail that’s about 1.5 miles long.

This loop trail offers impeccable views of the coastline, which you won’t want to miss during your visit to Halibut Point State Park.


Hopkinton State Park

With 1500 acres of gorgeous Massachusetts forest, Hopkinton State Park is a definite must visit for Massachusetts state parks.

There’s lovely hiking trails, and beaches for swimming, boating, kayking, paddleboarding, and more! This is one of the most popular state parks near Boston, especially in the summer months.

Swimming is available here May through Labor Day.


Nickerson State Park

Blue beach with sand and trees

Nickerson State Park is one of the larger Massachusetts state parks and is just shy of 2000 acres of land! Because of its prime location in Brewster on Cape Cod, this is a popular destination to visit in the summer.

While the park does feature a beach, there are many other great amenities at the park too.

One of the best things about Nickerson State Park is that you can camp overnight at one of the 400+ different campsites throughout the park! What better way to spend a weekend in summer than by camping near the beach?

Other fun things to do within the park include fishing at one of the eight ponds, hiking on one of the many hiking trails, and biking on the park’s trail that connects back to the Cape Cod Rail Trail! 

Even though there are fourteen different trails, the most popular one to do is the Cliff Pond Trail which is around 2.7 miles long. On average, it takes about an hour or so to hike this easy trail. It’s perfect if you’re more interested in a leisurely stroll!

Read Next: 13 Best Hotels on Cape Cod: Where to Stay on the Cape


Walden Pond State Reservation

Literary lovers absolutely cannot miss the opportunity to see for themselves, Walden Pond, that inspired Thoreau to “live deliberately.”

Walden Pond State Reservation is the perfect place to go wander the trails on a calm summer day, imagining how Henry David Thoreau might’ve felt as he crossed the same paths.

Walden Pond is also a popular summer swim spot in Concord.

Read Next: 11 Best Restaurants in Concord MA


Bash Bish Falls State Park

double waterfall surrounded by a forest and rocks

One of the absolute best Massachusetts state parks is Bash Bish Falls State Park! It’s located right in Mount Washington and even serves as a quick day trip from New York or southern Vermont if you’re staying somewhere else.

The main attraction in Bash Bish Falls State Park is a waterfall that happens to be the highest one in the entire state.

It’s one of Massachusett’s must-visit waterfalls, too! To reach it, you have to go on a quick moderate hike about 2 miles long. It’s an out and back trail with around 500 feet of elevation gain.

There’s not much else to do besides hiking or fishing at this park. Some people will swim right in the water at the waterfall’s base, but this isn’t suggested, per the signs posted everywhere. Do this at your own risk.


Now you know all about the best Massachusetts state parks! Which one do you most want to visit?

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