There are 18 National Park Services in Massachusetts, although, there are no National Parks in the state. The national park services are comprised of six National Historical Parks, two National Scenic Trails, seven National Historic Sites, and a National Historic Trail. There’s also a National Recreation Area and a National Seashore. As you can tell, history lovers are in for a treat when they visit The Bay State. Ready to explore the inspiring historic sites and places of natural beauty? If so, here are some of the best National Parks in Massachusetts to visit.
1. Blackstone River Valley – National Historical Park
The Blackstone River powered America’s entry into the Age of Industry, and many people describe the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park as the birthplace of the American industrial revolution. The Blackstone River Valley stretches from Worcester in Massachusetts to Providence in Rhode Island. Here you will find lots of sites of historical importance, for instance, textile mills. In the park, you’ll also find Slater Mill, the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning factory in the United States. Visitors can explore the park’s rich history, as well as enjoy walking tours, paddles along the river, and cycles along the trails.
2. New England – National Scenic Trail
The New England Trail covers 215 miles from Long Island Sound, located in Guildford’s Chittenden Park, to Royalston in the mountains of Massachusetts. As you hike, you’ll cross long ridges, summit mountains and enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful natural and cultural landscape of New England. For example, you’ll take in traprock ridges, historic villages, farmlands, forests, steep valleys, waterfalls, and river crossings.
3. Cape Cod – National Seashore
Cape Cod is one of the most romantic getaways in the United States. It is also a biologically rich and diverse area. Some 40 miles of unspoilt sandy beaches, marshes, ponds, and uplands support diverse species, for example, there are over 450 species of amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, mammals, and invertebrate animals. The Cape Cod National Seashore provides significant protection to this wildlife and their habitats. Apart from wildlife watching, there are plenty of other things to do on a visit. For instance, to get the adrenaline going you can enjoy a whale-watching cruise or take a dune tour. For something a little more sedate, you can stroll the beaches and explore the National Seashore’s many historic and cultural sites.
4. Boston Harbour Islands – National Recreation Area
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is an urban oasis just minutes from the city centre of Boston. The area is made up of 34 islands and peninsulas in Boston Harbor, for example, Georges, Spectacle, Peddocks, Lovells, and Little Brewster islands. You can access a lot of the islands by public ferry or you can access them by car or on foot. Once on the islands, there is a wide range of recreation and relaxation activities to enjoy, including boat trips, hiking and cultural events.
5. Boston – National Historical Park
The Boston National Historical Park is a collection of sites. These sites tell the stories of Boston’s role in the American Revolution. There are sites in Downtown Boston, Charlestown, and South Boston. In South Boston, the park site is Dorchester Heights. In Charlestown, the park sites include the Bunker Hill Monument and the Charlestown Navy Yard where you can visit the USS Cassin Young, USS Constitution, and the USS Constitution Museum. Downtown Boston sites include Old North Church, Paul Revere House, Old South Meeting House, and Faneuil Hall. You can visit most of these sites by following the Freedom Trail walking route.
6. Appalachian – National Scenic Trail
Stretching between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine, the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. Due to rerouting and modifying, the trail’s length varies from time to time but it is roughly 2,200-miles (3,500km). The scenic trail crosses “wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains.” Approximately three million people visit the Appalachian Trail every year. Some 3,000 people a year attempt a thru-hike. Those who manage to complete the entire Appalachian Trail in one go become 2,000-milers. Only about one in four make it all the way. Some 90 miles (145km) of the Appalachian Trail crosses Massachusetts. Here, the trail winds through the Berkshires in the western part of the state. For example, the trail passes through the towns of Dalton and Cheshire.
7. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route – National Historic Trail
The 680-mile (1,090km) Washington–Rochambeau Revolutionary Route follows in the footsteps of the Continental Army. In 1781, the French and American troops, under the command of George Washington and Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau, took this route when they marched for 14 weeks from Newport in Rhode Island, to Yorktown in Virginia. 4,000 French and 3,000 American soldiers marched, making this the largest troop movement of the American Revolution. It was this effort and cooperation between America and France that led to victory at Yorktown and secured American independence. There are more than ten historic sites, museums, encampments, and National Park Service locations in Massachusetts along the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail. In Boston, for example, you can visit the Old State House – the seat of the Massachusetts General Court until 1798.