Start 2021 outdoors with these First Week Hikes in Massachusetts

Choose from easy and more difficult hikes at dozens of parks across the state.

Spot Pond at the Middlesex Fells Reservation
Spot Pond at the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham. –Department of Conservation and Recreation

A New Year’s Day outdoor tradition in Massachusetts has been reimagined due to the coronavirus pandemic: the state’s First Day Hikes program has been transformed into a weeklong event.

The Massachusetts First Day Hikes program is an free guided hiking event that began in Massachusetts in 1992 and was rolled out nationwide in 2012. This year, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which operates 150 state parks and thousands of miles of trails, will offer a First Week Hikes program, extending the hiking period to seven days “to prevent over-crowding due to COVID-19,” according to the DCR website.

The following are the state’s suggested hikes for those looking to hit the trails from Jan. 1-8. The hikes will not be guided this year to discourage people from gathering, DCR noted. Officials provided “introductory” hikes — shorter and great for all levels — and “signature” hikes — longer and more difficult but that “highlight some of the best features of the forest” for each park listed below.

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Ashland State Park in Ashland
Beartown State Forest in Monterey
Beaver Brook Reservation in Belmont/Waltham
Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Millville
Blue Hills Reservation and hikes from Houghton’s Pond in Milton
Borderland State Park in North Easton
Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield
Breakheart Reservation in Saugus
Brimfield State Forest in Brimfield
Callahan State Park in Framingham
Charles River Reservation/Esplanade in Boston
Chester-Blandford State Forest in Chester
Chestnut Hill Reservation in Brighton
Chicopee Memorial State Park in Chicopee
Clarksburg State Park in Clarksburg
Conn River Greenway State Park in Northampton
DAR State Forest in Goshen
Douglas State Forest in Douglas
Erving State Forest in Erving
F. Gilbert State Forest in Foxborough
Fountain Pond State Park in Great Barrington
Freetown-Fall River State Forest in Assonet
Granville State Forest in Granville
Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle
Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls
Greylock Glen in Adams
Halibut Point State Park in Rockport
Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover
Hopkinton State Park in Hopkinton
J. Harry Rich State Forest in Ayer
Jug End Reservation in Egremont
Kenneth Dubuque Memorial State Forest in Hawley
Leominster State Forest in Westminster
Mount Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough
Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in Martha’s Vineyard
Massasoit State Park in East Taunton
Maudslay State Park in Newburyport
Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham
Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont
Mt. Grace State Forest in Warwick
Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in South Deerfield
Mount Holyoke Range State Park in Amherst
Mount Washington State Forest in Mt. Washington
Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke
Mt. Watatic State Reservation in Ashburnham
Myles Standish State Forest in South Carver
Nashua River Rail Trail in Ayer
Nickerson State Park in Brewster
Norwottuck Rail Trail in Northampton
October Mountain State Forest in Lee
Otter River State Forest in Baldwinville
Pearl Hill State Park in West Townsend
Pittsfield State Forest in Pittsfield
Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown
Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury
Sandisfield State Forest in New Marlborough
Savoy Mountain State Forest in Florida
Tolland State Forest in East Otis
Upper Charles River Reservation in Waltham
Upton State Forest in Upton
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation in Princeton
Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord
Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in East Falmouth
Wells State Park in Sturbridge
Wendell State Forest in Wendell
Willard Brook State Forest in Townsend
Wompatuck State Park in Hingham

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In previous years, DCR has offered hot chocolate to hikers at some locations, but none will be offered this year because of the pandemic. Also, hikers should keep in mind that face masks are required in all state parks and visitor centers and restrooms may be closed. Before planning your hike, DCR recommends going over its “know before you go” information, which includes printing or downloading a trail map, dressing appropriately, knowing which parks are pet friendly, and concluding your hike by sunset.

“If you can’t get to a state park or have limited abilities, try getting out of doors each day of First Week 2021 for fresh air and movement right where you live—to build a healthy habit this the New Year,” DCR officials wrote.

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