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The following is a press release from Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)


BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced it will offer family-friendly Trip-Tips, self-guided adventures and suggested hikes for approximately 20 state park facilities during the traditional February school vacation week.

Programming can be enjoyed at any time starting today, February 13, 2021. DCR Trip-Tips provide children and their families with self-guided activity ideas to lead their exploration of a local state park or watershed. The Trip-Tips include activities like winter birding, wildlife observation. history tours, and scavenger hunts.

For a full list of Trip-Tips, visit DCR’s website.

“This winter, DCR is thrilled to offer school vacation Trip-Tips encouraging children and their families to enjoy the fresh air and experience self-guided opportunities in their local state park,” said Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “The Baker-Polito Administration continues to increase both access within our state parks system and opportunities for the public to enjoy the many recreational resources available to them.”

In addition to the school vacation week programming, DCR is offering public skating at Kelly Outdoor Rink from 12:00pm to 7:30pm Sundays through Fridays and 2:00pm to 7:30pm on Saturdays. DCR is also offering self-guided suggested hiking adventures at approximately 70 locations statewide. The DCR Trip-Tip itineraries and self-guided recommended hikes can be found on the DCR website.

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Some programming highlights include: 

Central Massachusetts

Step Back in Time at Quabbin Reservoir

Location: Quabbin Reservoir, 100 Winsor Dam Road, Belchertown

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 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 the Central Valley

Location: 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 the water power from the canal to operate its machinery during the industrial revolution. At Upton State Forest, explore see the remains of the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp from the 1930s and take a walk on the Healthy Heart Loop to Moore State Park in Paxton and take the Water Power Walk and explore the remains of the mill village that was  built on this site and see how they used the creek to power the mills that were the heart of the village. Snow on the ground? The hikes in this Trip Tip can be done just as easily via snowshoe. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

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Southeastern Massachusetts

Winter Woodland Wanders

Location: 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 that inhabits the forest! This self-guided Trip-Tips 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 a Pond Walk Tree Hunt at Borderland State Park, a Pond Loop Walk and  Wildlife Spotting at Bristol Blake State Reservation and History and Hike to High Rock at F. Gilbert Hills State Forest. Suitable for all ages. Parking fees apply at Borderland State Park only.

Explore the Shore

Location: Scusset Beach State Reservation, 20 Scusset Beach Road, Sagamore

    Ellisville Harbor State Park,1861 State Road, Plymouth

    Pilgrim Memorial State Park, 79 Water Street, Plymouth

See the shore this winter! This self-guided Trip-Tips features three DCR parks that are located close to one another in the Plymouth area: Scusset Beach State Reservation, Ellisville Harbor State Park, and Pilgrim Memorial State Park. Trip Tips activities include a Ship Watching Picnic at the canal at Sagamore Hill, a Beach Scavenger Hunt & Seal Watching and a Monuments and Memorial Tour at Pilgrim Memorial State Park. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

Winter Woods and Water Exploration

Location: Blue Hills Reservation, 695 Hillside Street, Milton

Investigate the Winter Woods and Waters of the Blue Hills Reservation! This self-guided Trip-Tips 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, a peaceful parade around Ponkapoag Pond, and a St. Moritz Winter Wonderland Walk. The Blue Hills Reservation encompasses approximately 10 square miles and stretches from Dedham to Quincy, AA Milton to Randolph, providing a surprisingly large open space only 35 miles from Boston. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

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Western Massachusetts

Winter Wanders

Location: Wendell State Forest, 392 Wendell Rd, Millers Falls

     Canalside Rail Trail, Unity Park, 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls

     Mount Tom State Reservation, 125 Reservation Road, Holyoke

     DAR State Forest, 78 Cape Street, Goshen

Wander through winter with this series of park adventures, with Trip-Tips all along the Connecticut River Valley. From mountain vistas to valley snow and rushing rivers, your travels include Wendell State Forest, the Canalside Rail Trail, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) State Reservation, and Mount Tom State Reservation. Choose one park, two parks, or make it a multi-day adventure and challenge yourself to visit all four parks with your family during February school vacation week, or anytime this winter. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

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 woodsand 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-Tips 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 Parkin Topsfield and Harold Parker State Forestin North Andover, two forested parks that are about 30 minutes apart. Suitable for all ages. No parking fees apply.

Explore the Winter Shore

Location: Halibut Point State Park, Gott Avenue, Rockport

    Revere Beach Reservation, Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere

    Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, 1399 Bennington Street, East Boston

Explore history and nature on the shore this winter! These self-guided Trip-Tips feature three DCR parks that are located along a scenic ocean drive: Halibut Point State Park, Revere Beach Reservation, and Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. Activities include viewing the harlequin ducks, eider ducks, and loons at the rocky coastal water’s edge of Halibut Point, searching for and photographing noteworthy buildings and structures that grace the shoreline, and exploring a saltmarsh filled with a variety of winter 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.

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

DCR asks visitors to park in designated areas only, and to come back another time if a parking lot is full. Many visitor centers remain closed. However, restrooms or porta-johns within many DCR parks remain open. Dogs are required 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 DCR website.

When visiting state parks, DCR offers general guidance for visitors to follow:

  • If a facility or park is crowded, please consider leaving the area and either visiting a different location or returning at a later date or time (typically state parks are less busy during the week and/or early in the morning);
  • Follow posted rules, such as “carry in, carry out” trash policies and posted parking  restrictions and pet waste disposal policies;
  • Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people;
  • Practice social distancing of at least six feet between individuals;
  • Wear a facial mask or covering in public;
  • Practice healthy personal hygiene, such as handwashing for at least 20 seconds; and,
  • Stay home if ill, over 70, and/or part of a vulnerable population.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.