Now is a perfect time to start planning a family nature walk! I have compiled a list of 20 Kid-Friendly Nature Walks in Massachusetts, with locations spanning across the state.
Walden Pond State Reservation includes 335 acres of protected open space so that visitors from near and far may come to experience the pond that inspired Thoreau. In summer the Reservation is a popular swimming destination. In the spring and fall, many people hike the trails that ring the pond and visit the replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin.
At Drumlin Farm, you can experience life on a working farm and explore a wildlife sanctuary at the same time. Watch the pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and cows in the farmyard; see how crops are sustainably grown; walk the trails to observe plants and animals in their native settings; and observe resident owls, a fox, and deer in the native wildlife exhibit.
The Middlesex Fells Reservation’s 2,575 acres offer a welcome retreat for city dwellers and a suitable terrain for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, rock climbers, cross-country skiers and picnickers as well as natural and cultural history buffs.
Located along the northeast coast of Massachusetts, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to provide feeding, resting, and nesting habitat for migratory birds. Most commonly associated with Plum Island – a barrier beach island – the refuge is composed of more than 4700 acres of diverse habitats including sandy beach and dune, cranberry bog, maritime forest and shrub land, and freshwater marsh.
Sprawling across the southern sections of Plymouth and Carver, Myles Standish State Forest is the largest publicly owned recreation area in southeastern Massachusetts. Fifteen miles of bicycle trails, 35 miles of equestrian trails and 13 miles of hiking trails take visitors deep into the forest, which includes one of the largest contiguous pitch pine/scrub oak communities.
The Mount Misery Conservation Lands provide beautiful views of the Sudbury River and Fairhaven Bay. This is a circular hike on gently sloped and well-groomed trails.
The conservation land covering more than 2,000 acres in the heart of the Pioneer Valley is home to 75 percent of the state’s reptile and amphibian species. Mt. Tom boasts an unparalleled view of the Connecticut Valley north and south, the Berkshire mountains to the west and the Pelham hills to the east.
This park features 19th century gardens and plantings, rolling meadows, towering pines, and one of the largest naturally occurring stands of mountain laurel in Massachusetts.
Rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, stone walls, and historic farm buildings are part of this 1,000 acre pastoral landscape – a rare glimpse into New England’s agricultural past.
10. Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary – Natick, Ma
Broadmoor is an ever-changing environment brimming with wildlife: dragonflies darting, turtles basking, otters leaving tracks in the mud or snow, and more than 150 species of birds. Easy-to-rugged well-groomed trails.
The park consists of approximately 1000 acres and has over 20 miles of trails available for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
Here, you can explore the region’s wildlife-rich habitats (salt marshes, mudflats, rivers, bays, and coastal waters) through guided tours, marine touch tanks, art exhibits, drop-in programs, and interpretive displays.
More than two miles of trails at Great Misery Island lead you to spectacular overlooks, stony beaches, and grassy fields.
Trails lead to a wide variety of rock formations, with such romantic names as The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lovers’ Leap and Fat Man’s Misery. An adventurous playground, equipped with a play structure, swings and a merry-go-round, is now located near the visitor center.
With 10 miles of carriage paths and trails that meander through the park, you can find plenty of room to picnic, bird watch, walk, cross-country ski, and simply appreciate the outdoors. Children love the Ledge Hill Trail – a 2-mile round-trip walk among magical-looking, fern-covered boulders.
182 acres of woodlands, fields, and old estate property is surrounded on three sides by the Charles River.
Fort Independence, a pentagonal five-bastioned, granite fort built between 1834 and 1851, is the dominating feature of Castle Island. This 22-acre urban park is connected to the mainland by both pedestrian and vehicular causeways.
Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester is the largest urban wildlife sanctuary in New England, with over 400 acres of trails through woods, fields, streams, and marsh.
Gentle trails wind through deciduous and evergreen forests, across meadows, and around ponds and vernal pools. Habitat offers year-round programs for all ages.
The Arboretum is a living museum dedicated to the study and appreciation of woody plants. Upon its 281 acres grow 15,000 trees, shrubs and vines, each of which is scientifically documented and available for teaching or research.