Massachusetts State Parks COVID - 19 Update

In an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Baker-Polito Administration is urging the public to stay home as much as possible to avoid person-to-person contact. However, should individuals and their families need to get outside for healthy, outdoor recreational activities, including walking, hiking, jogging, and bike riding, Massachusetts state parks and other natural resources managed by DCR remain open and accessible to the public.

How to Visit State Parks during Covid-19 Safely and Responsibly

Additionally, state parks are public areas, and while the agency continues to make efforts to sanitize high-touch locations, these surfaces are only as clean as the last person who has come in contact with it. Please take appropriate steps to protect your health and the health of others by following the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Visitors to state parks should follow these additional guidelines:

  • Minimize outdoor recreational time to limit potential exposure to COVID-19;
  • Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people;
  • Practice social distancing of at least six feet between individuals;
  • Administer healthy personal hygiene, such as handwashing for at least 20 seconds;
  • Participate in only non-contact recreational activities;
  • Leave a park or area should large gatherings begin to build; and,
  • Stay home if ill, over 70, and/or part of a vulnerable population. 

The agency appreciates your support and understanding as we all continue to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. Below are specific details regarding the closure of agency managed facilities and other information:

Table of Contents

Parking Areas

State Coastal Beach Reservations

Some state coastal beach parking areas remain temporarily closed. State managed beaches remain open for passive recreational activities that only involve transitory movement (walking, jogging, running, etc.) and for solitary beach fishing. Sitting, sunbathing, and other stationary recreational activities are prohibited on state beaches. Additionally, athletic and recreational activities that bring participants into close, physical contact are prohibited.

State Park Properties

As of Saturday, April 11, 2020, state park properties statewide will have reduced parking in an effort to prevent overcrowding and the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. The parking reduction will continue indefinitely.

Playgrounds, Fitness Areas, and Bathroom Facilities:

As of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, agency managed playgrounds, fitness areas, and bathroom facilities throughout the state parks system have temporarily closed until June 7, 2020, at which time the closure of these facilities will be reassessed.

Athletic Fields and Courts

In accordance with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Safety and Reopening Standards for Parks, Open Space, and Outdoor and Education Programs

Athletic Fields and Non-Contact Courts (Non-Organized/Permitted Use)

Athletic fields and athletic courts can be utilized only for non-contact sports, with no shared equipment, such as tennis and pickleball. No permits will be issued for group gatherings and users should not engage in pick-up games, organized games or tournaments.

Athletic Fields Guidelines:

• Users should sanitize hands before and after play, not share equipment, and clean and wipe down equipment.

• When engaged in play, users should avoid touching other users’ equipment in separate areas.

• Users waiting to utilize a section or area of the field should wait outside the field of play until previous users have vacated the facility to ensure proper social distancing and prevent accidental contact of other users’ equipment.

• Users should not engage in pick-up games, organized games, or tournaments.

Athletic Courts (Non-Contact) Guidelines:

• Users should sanitize hands before and after play, not share equipment and clean and

wipe down equipment, including racquets, balls, and water bottles.

• Users waiting to utilize a court should wait outside the court’s gates/fence until previous

users have vacated the facility to ensure proper social distancing and prevent accidental

contact of other users’ equipment.

• Users should not engage in pick-up games, organized games, or tournaments

Trash Removal

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the agency is not providing trash receptacles throughout the state parks system. Visitors are asked to practice the agency’s “carry in, carry out” policy during this public health emergency and to do their part to help protect our shared natural resources by leaving no trace and taking any trash with them.

Parkway Access

Parkway Access

 In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, DCR opened segments of four parkways in the Greater Boston Metro Area to expand pedestrian and cyclist access. The measure, which closes the segments to vehicular traffic, will reduce close contact of park users, as well as large concentrations of people on adjacent sidewalks and paths. 

 The segments include:

  • William J. Day Boulevard in Boston (from Farragut Road to Shore Drive including Castle Island Parking) – open indefinitely;
  • Francis Parkman Drive between Perkins Street and the Arborway in the City of Boston (Jamaica Plain) – open indefinitely;
  • Greenough Boulevard (Little Greenough) between Arsenal Street and North Beacon Street in the Town of Watertown – open indefinitely; and,
  • Fellsway West between Sheepfold Park in the Town of Stoneham and Parkway Park in the City of Medford – open weekends only (dawn to dusk).

Working in close coordination with the City of Cambridge’s health and public safety officials, the Department of Conservation and Recreation will open Riverbend Park on Sunday, May 24, 2020 and Sunday, May 31, 2020, and close Memorial Drive to vehicular traffic. After Sunday, May 31, 2020, DCR and the City of Cambridge will reassess the status of Riverbend Park/Memorial Drive.

Recreational Boating

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued guidance permitting the safe operation of recreational boats subject to the discretion of local officials, harbormasters, and law enforcement. Any recreational boating must be conducted in accordance with stringent guidelines including social distancing, and only persons from the same household should be together on a boat at one time. Additionally, all local rules, regulations, laws and Coast Guard requirements still apply.

 Inland Boat Ramps and Canoe Launches

 Inland boat ramps and canoe launches within state parks, forests, wildlife management areas, boating access facilities and other state owned properties managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts remain open for use by boats being launched by vehicles registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, except where the access has already been closed due to parking restrictions or other restrictions. All other inland boat ramps that are currently managed by municipalities remain open subject to the discretion of the city or town.

 Coastal Boat Ramps and Canoe Launches

 Coastal boat ramps managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts remain open for use by boats being launched by vehicles registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. All other coastal boat ramps currently managed by municipalities remain open for recreational use subject to the discretion of the city or town.

Visitor Centers and Campgrounds

As of Saturday, March 14, 2020, agency managed visitor centers throughout the state parks system have temporarily closed until June 7, 2020, at which time the closure of these facilities will be reassessed. 

Campgrounds

Out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced the closure of all camping, pavilion and picnic areas through June 7, 2020. 

    Reservations will be automatically cancelled and refunded in full.  Campers do not need to contact ReserveAmerica.  PLEASE DO NOT CANCEL YOUR OWN RESERVATION.

      Refunds may take a few weeks to be processed.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.​

      DCR is not taking any camping reservations until campgrounds have reopened.

      In addition to the closure of campgrounds, Appalachian Trail shelters, campsites, and privies within the Massachusetts state parks system are also temporarily closed due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

      Please remember, camping is always prohibited other than on designated campsites,​ throughout state parks and along the 90-miles of the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts.​

      Golf Courses

      Agency managed golf courses (Ponkapoag Golf Course in the Town of Canton and the Leo J. Martin Golf Course in the Town of Weston) have not yet opened for the season. All golf related activities are prohibited.

      Ice Rinks

      As of Saturday, March 14, 2020, all agency owned ice rinks throughout the Commonwealth have closed to the public. DCR managed ice rinks have permanently closed for the season (these rinks were previously scheduled to closed on Sunday, March 22, 2020). Agency rinks operated by third parties are closed until Monday, May 18, 2020, at which time the closure of ice rinks will be reassessed. Additionally, during the temporary closure all associated events at these locations are cancelled.

      Lifeguard Recruitment

      During this public health emergency, the department has postponed several upcoming lifeguard qualification and recertification tests. Please continue to visit the agency’s DCR Lifeguarding webpage for the most up-to-date test schedule information.

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