Massachusetts' Best State Parks
Pond State Reservation
Thanks to Henry David Thoreau, the noted American author, Walden Pond may be the world's most famous body of fresh water. Today, visitors come from all over the world, some for recreation and relaxation, and others to contemplate the philosophical, literary and environmental significance of Thoreau's Walden. Because of Thoreau's legacy of inspiring awareness and respect for the natural environment, Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the American conservation movement. Walden Pond State Reservation encompasses 411 acres surrounding the 62-acre Walden Pond, which is a crystal clear, 103-foot deep, glacial kettle hole pond. Less than 20 miles from downtown Boston, the park is popular for fishing, swimming, canoeing and walking. In winter, visitors hike or cross-country ski along the five miles of trails around the pond. A replica of Thoreau's original cabin allows visitors a glimpse of the way he lived. During seasonal performances, visitors can converse with an actor portraying Thoreau about the activities and accomplishments of the writer. Year-round interpretive staff offer programs on the history and natural environment of Walden Pond. The Thoreau Society also runs an on-site bookstore. To protect the natural resources of the park and ensure that Walden Pond remains a pleasant place to visit for years to come, the number of visitors is limited to no more than 1,000 people at a time. Dogs and bicycles are not allowed within the park.
Greylock State Reservation (Lanesborough)
Mount Greylock State Reservation is the oldest and, at 12,500 acres, one of the largest properties in the Massachusetts state forests and parks. The 3,491-foot mountain, accessible by car, is also the highest peak in the Commonwealth. Located in the beautiful Berkshire Hills, Mount Greylock is a delight for naturalists, hikers, campers and people who enjoy spectacular views. The summit, recently designated a National Historic Landmark, offers visitors views of up to 100 miles reaching across five different states (MA, NY, VT, NH, CT). The 92-foot high War Memorial Tower, built in 1932 and restored in 1998, is open daily during the summer and fall. The Appalachian Mountain Club runs Bascom Lodge, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The lodge provides accommodations for 32 people from mid-May through mid-October. The Sperry Campground on the mountain offers a rustic camping area; 35 family and five group campsites are available. Hikers and cross-country skiers can explore the natural beauty of Mount Greylock State Reservation on 45 miles of trails, including the famous Appalachian Trail. Other activities include picnicking, bicycling, snowmobiling, interpretive programs and hunting (in season). The Visitors Center on the Lanesborough side of the mountain, off Route 7 and Rockwell Road, provides exhibits and information on the park and the surrounding area, and is wheelchair-accessible.
Nickerson State Park
If you travel the road to the park's upper campground, you are surrounded by woods that slope down to the banks of eight crystal clear fresh water ponds. Nickersons 1900 acres offers more than 420 campsites, an amphitheater, eight miles of roads, hiking trails, an eight mile bike path that connects to the 25 mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, and ponds stocked year-round with trout. Cape Cod Bay is within walking or bicycling distance.
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