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DCR Trip Tip Self-Guided Family Adventures

Check out Trip-Tip self-guided family adventures featuring over 20 DCR locations!
dcr trip tip

Spring is a wonderful time to experience your state park system!  DCR is offering a variety of family-friendly self -guided opportunities to help you make the most of your vacation and throughout the spring.

Hop on the trail! Take a Self-Guided Suggested Hikes at over 70 facilities statewide. 

Investigate! Fun in Nature  downloadable activities to enhance your experience at any DCR park!    Activities include seek and find scavenger hunts to awaken all of your senses, a conversation starter set to encourage talks along the trail and creating your own story cube to inspire story- telling!

Adventure! The DCR Trip-Tip provides families with information and fun ideas to explore the great outdoors at DCR Massachusetts State Parks and Watersheds. With a little preparation and a sense of adventure, people of all ages can safely enjoy our beautiful outdoor spaces.

DCR asks visitors to park in designated areas only, and if a parking lot is full come back another time. Many visitor centers remain closed. However, restrooms or porta-johns within many DCR parks remain open. Dogs are to be on leash in state parks unless signage designates otherwise. Dogs are not permitted on DCR Water Supply Protection areas. To find a dog-friendly park, visit the Dogs in DCR Parks website.

Table of Contents

DCR Tip-Trip Itinerary Descriptions

Central Massachusetts

Quabbin Spring Ramble

Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Gate 39, Route 110 & South Meadow Road, Clinton

Quabbin Reservoir is a vital water supply source for approximately 3 million people in Massachusetts. Participants will discover three unique areas in the Quabbin Reservation that spotlight what life was like before four towns were removed to build the reservoir: Quabbin Park, Quabbin Park Cemetery and Enfield Lookout Trail, and Dana Common (Gate 40). Please note, dogs are not allowed anywhere in Quabbin Park or Quabbin Reservation. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply. 

Explore Wachusett Watershed

Location: Wachusett Reservoir, 180 Beaman St., West Boylston  

Explore the Wachusett Watershed. This DCR Trip-Tip self-guided adventure features easy walks located within 15 minutes driving time of one another in the Wachusett Watershed area for great views of water features. Visit these three locations: North Dike Wachusett Reservoir in Clinton for Earth, Wind and Water; Gate 22 Wachusett Reservoir in West Boylston for Forest Hike, and Mass Central Rail Trail in Sterling for Watershed View.  No parking fees apply.

Trip Tip Explore the Central Valley

Locations:   Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge

                     Upton State Forest, 205 Westboro Road, Upton

                     Moore State Park, 1 Sawmill Road, Paxton

Massachusetts’ state parks are known for their scenic and natural beauty, but visitors can also see evidence of the human history of the area. Families will experience a walk along the Tow Path at Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park. Along the way you will see a dam and control gate, the remains of a bridge, and the Stanley Woolen Mill which used water power from the canal to operate machinery during the industrial revolution.

At Upton State Forest, explore see the remains of the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp from the 1930s. Take a walk on the Healthy Heart Loop to Moore State Park in Paxton. Enjoy the Water Power Walk to explore the remains of the mill village built on this site. Discover how they used the creek to power the mills that were the heart of the village. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

 Southeastern Massachusetts

"Spring is Blossoming" Adventure

Locations:   Borderland State Park, 259 Massapoag Avenue, North Easton

                     Bristol Blake State Reservation, 108 North Street, Norfolk 

                     F. Gilbert Hills State Forest, 45 Mill Street, Foxborough

Discover parks with diverse woodlands and view the wildlife living in the forest! This self-guided Trip-Tip features three DCR parks that are located close to one another in Norfolk County: Borderland State Park, Bristol Blake State Reservation, and F. Gilbert Hills State Forest. Participants will enjoy Botanical Sketching at Borderland State Park, Birding at Bristol Blake State Reservation and Tree Identification Challenge at F. Gilbert Hills State Forest. Suitable for all ages. Parking fees apply at Borderland State Park only.

Blue Hills Spring Exploration

Location: Blue Hills Reservation, 695 Hillside Street, Milton

Investigate the Spring Exploration of the Blue Hills Reservation! This self-guided Trip-Tip features three park areas located within the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation. Activities include a walk along the edge of Marigold Marsh to look for signs of animal activity at Houghton’s Pond Recreation Area, Brookwood Farm, and the Great Blue Hill Adventure. The Blue Hills Reservation encompasses approximately 10 square miles and stretches from Dedham to Quincy, and Milton to Randolph, providing a surprisingly large open space only 35 miles from Boston. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

Western Massachusetts

Sensing Spring

Location:    Bradley Farm at Mount Greylock State Reservation, 30 Rockwell Rd., Lanesborough

                    Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, along MA Route 8 in Cheshire and Adams

                    Glen Meadow Loop, Greylock Glen, Gould Rd., Adams

Springtime is in the air! Warm breezes and the sweet scents of spring awaken our senses, enticing us to get out and explore nature’s long awaited re-vival! Spring is a great time to explore the outdoors at these Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) state park properties in the northern Berkshires. This Sensing Spring Trip Tip leads you to: Bradley Farm Interpretive Trail at Mount Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough; Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Cheshire, and Adams; and Glen Meadow Loop at Greylock Glen in Adams.

Spring Migration

Locations:        Norwottock Rail Trail, 292 Station Rd., Amherst

                        Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation, 300 Sugarloaf St., South Deerfield     

                        Canalside Rail Trail in Turners Falls

Each spring, thousands of migrating birds fly north through the Connecticut River Valley to nest. They join year-round resident birds looking for the best places to raise families. As you bike and hike and “migrate from park to park” like a bird, meet the early birds of spring and immerse yourself in the season. In this Spring Migration Trip Tip, these three signature parks in the Connecticut River Greenway State Park are all within 50 minutes of each other. With this guide, and a little preparation, each adventure offers a fresh look at how to fly full speed into spring. Habitat is Home at Norwottock Rail Trail in Amherst, Soar to the Top at Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in South Deerfield, Going with the Flow at Canalside Rail Trail in Turners Falls

Northeastern, Massachusetts

Beaver Lodge Hunt and Find

Location:    Bradley Palmer State Park, 40 Asbury Street, Topsfield

                     Harold Parker State Forest, 305 Middleton Road, North Andover

Explore the spring woods and find the homes of nature’s engineers! The beaver is a rarely seen, secretive animal, but their signs are easily noticed if you know where and how to look. This self-guided Trip-Tip takes you on a beaver lodge discovery tour in two parks to find lodges in four different locations. Sharpen your skills of observation as you look for signs that are hidden in plain sight—things that a lot of people just don’t see. Your journey will take you to Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield and Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover, two forested parks that are about 30 minutes apart. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

Explore Spring Bird Migration at the Shore

Location:     Revere Beach Reservation, Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere

                     Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, 1399 Bennington Street, East Boston

Explore history and nature on the shore this spring! This self-guided Trip-Tip features two DCR parks that are located along a scenic ocean drive: Revere Beach Reservation and Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. Activities include viewing some late winter species at the coastal water’s edge, searching for and photographing noteworthy buildings and structures that grace the shoreline, and exploring a saltmarsh filled with a variety of spring birds including the American Black Duck, Brant and, Great Blue Heron at Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. Don’t forget to bring along your binoculars, spotting scope, camera, and sketch pad! Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

Share Your Adventure

Visitors are also encouraged to tweet, post, and tag photos on social media using @MassDCR and #DCRTripTip

Tell us about your experience!

Fun in Nature Activity Series

Check out these fun downloadable activity sheets to enhance your park visit!

scavenger hunt

Coastal Scavenger Hunt

Neighborhood/Park Scavenger Hunt

Nature is all around us! Bring along a scavenger hunt and seek and find all of nature’s hidden treasures whether you are near the water or in a DCR Park or in your neighborhood!

Senses Scavenger Hunt

Being out in nature awakens all our senses! Bring along the Senses Scavenger Hunt to add a fun twist to your park visit or neighborhood walk!  You’ll be on the look out for a variety of objects that you can see, touch, smell, listen and taste (with your eyes)!

Conversation Cards

Get your family thinking about a range of fun park and nature topics with these engaging and entertaining conversation questions. Cut out each card and pack them for your park trip. Share them on your travels or along the trail. Encourage creativity, curiosity, and conversation!

Story Cubes

Color each image and cut out the squares. Make a cube and take turns rolling them to inspire your story. Fun for kids of all ages! 

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