Massachusetts is full of great day hiking opportunities, with just shy of 600 registered trails how could it not be? Whether you’re on Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, near Boston, in the mountains, or smack dab in the middle of the state a day hike is awaiting you! With so much variety hiking enthusiasts of all ilks can find a perfect location displaying almost anything the Commonwealth has to offer. While there is no real empirical ranking of these day hikes as tastes vary, what follows is an overview of some of the best day hikes I’ve been on or heard of.
Immediately my first choice is to hit the Appalachian Trail (AT) which is the countries first and best scenic trail. The trail runs between Katahdin, Maine, all the way down to Springer Mountain Georgia. The trail was formed back in the 1920’s as a “gateway to the states” which stretches over 2160 miles. You can hike it for months, but a day is more than sufficient to get a great taste of what it has to offer. Incidentally should you choose to hike overnight there are well maintained shelters, and the trail is hiking only, no motorized vehicles qill disrupt your fun. A great activity is to hike the entire trail through the state a day at a time, and during different seasons so you can experience the changes.
North of Boston in the North Shore region, there are a few excellent day hikes to sample. Bald Hill Reservation which is a couple of miles southwest of Boxford has a fantastic interlocking trail system offer loop hikes ans well as the out and back variety. Taking a map on these trails is advisable as sometimes it is easy to inadvertently hop from one trail to another without noticing. You can expect to see low lying swampland, forested hills, and all the wildlife you would expect in the area over these 1,700 acres.
Another great trail is found at Halibut Point State Park. What is so awesome there are the views! If you love the ocean, a good aerobic workout, and varying terrain this is a must take day hike. You follow the rocky coastline along Cape Ann and can stray away to do some beach combing, bird watching, even find some beautiful spots to stop and have a bite to eat. If you like photography and day hiking this is the perfect marriage of the two. While getting familiar with the area one more spot the region offers you should try is the Agassiz Rock hike. This was named for the former Harvard professor of natural history who thought the highlighted rock of the hike pointed to supporting his theory of glacial movement which back in the mid 1800’s was a point of controversy. Great views and a little history make this a great excursion!
As many people don’t get out to the Vineyard, Cape Cod is a beautiful easier to reach alternative. As a whole there are better than sixty trails in the area to take in, all suitable for day hiking. The Calley Darling Conservation Trail is my favorite of all. This is a system made up of several trails which traverse salt marshes and woodlands. Wildlife is plentiful, the trails range from easy to moderate, and if you can’t find one you like you really don’t like hiking. These trails are gorgeous, maintained but not ruined in any manner that betrays their natural beauty. The highlight is Gray’s Beach which offers phenomenal dunes and great views.
That is just a quick look of a few of my favorites, maybe all of them or just one seems to fit your tastes, but what is great is there are still more than 680 others to choose from, far more than can be listed here. The point is Massachusetts can almost offer you one new day hike a day for two years! That is incredible given the states size! Try them all or pick a region, no matter what you choose you will be looking for more!