Massachusetts Region Descriptions

Click a region on the map to jump to that region's description. Click on a region's header to see a listing of hikes in that region (when available).

MA - Northwest   

Northwestern Massachusetts is bounded by New York state to the west, Vermont to the north, and the Connecticut River to the east. With the Berkshires and the Appalachian Trail, this area offers opportunities for dayhiking as well as backpacking.

The Northwest region has the distinction of having the highest peak in the state: Mount Greylock at 3,491 feet. Mount Greylock has a beautiful glacial cirque, called the Hopper, carved out of its northwestern flank. This alone is quite a sight to behold but the mountain also offers several waterfalls and great views of the surrounding area. The Appalachian Trail passes over its summit.

Another worthy destination is the 11,000-acre Savoy Mountain State Forest which includes the 2,566-foot Spruce Hill. Savoy Forest is located atop the Hoosac Mountain Range. In its over 50 miles of trails you can experience mountain views, hills, ponds, and hawk migrations.

Boundaries:   West of I-91. North of Rt. 9 and I-90.

MA - Central North   

Midstate Trail from Barre to Princeton (photo by Webmaster) The Central North region is bounded by the Connecticut River to the west and the state of New Hampshire to the north. It has a combination of rolling hills, low craggy summits, and pleasant woods walks. The 117-mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and the 92-mile Midstate Trail both pass through this region.

The Metacomet-Monadnock Trail passes over Crag Mountain which is an easy hike with excellent views. It also traverses the rugged ridgeline of Mount Holyoke with several outlooks to the Connecticut Valley and the Berkshires.

At 2,006 feet, Wachusett Mountain bears the distinction of the highest peak in central Massachusetts. In addition to the Midstate Trail passing over its summit, the mountain has many other trails and has views in all directions, encompassing Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire as well as the Boston skyline.

Other interesting peaks include the short, steep South Sugarloaf Mountain with the Connecticut River at its foot and views of the environs. And from Mount Toby's fire tower, there are views across five states.

For pleasant woods walks, check out the 4300-acre Leominster State Forest. It offers an extensive network of trails over a wide variety of terrain.

Boundaries:   East of I-91. West of I-495 and I-95. North of I-90.

MA - Northeast   

Northeastern Massachusetts is bounded by the ocean to the east. Many coastal walks and woods walks exist in this region with plentiful options for bird watching.

A few favorite bird watching locations are Plum Island, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, and Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Plum Island includes easy walking along a sandy beach and the rocky shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. It also has a glacial drumlin where plants not usually found along the coast grow. Great Meadows is a 3000-acre preserve running along 12 miles of the Concord River.

The 480-acre Maudslay State Park offers a great trail network covering a variety of terrain. The Merrimack River flows along one border. The park also features stands of towering white pines, a nesting site for bald eagles, 19th-century plants and gardens, woods, meadows, azaleas, rhododendrons, and one of the largest naturally occurring stands of mountain laurel in Massachusetts.

Walden Pond, made famous by the writings of Henry David Thoreau, offers a pleasant loop hike. And closer to Boston is Middlesex Fells offering quiet wooded hills for walking.

Boundaries:   North of I-90. East of I-495 and I-95.

Map of Massachusetts regions and highways (map by Webmaster)

MA - Northwest region MA - Central North region MA - Northeast region MA - Southwest region MA - Central South region MA - Southeast region MA - Southwest   

Southwestern Massachusetts is bounded by New York state to the west, Connecticut to the south, and the Connecticut River to the east. It encompasses the Berkshires and the Appalachian Trail, and like the Northwest region, provides ample opportunities for both dayhiking and backpacking.

The Appalachian Trail traverses the beautiful Riga Plateau climbing up to the 1,834-foot Mount Bushnell and the 2,602-foot Mount Everett with views in all directions. This stretch of the AT has many open ledges and wide views north to the Berkshires.

From its 2,240-foot summit, Alander Mountain offers views of the southern Berkshires and also views into New York all the way to the Catskill Mountains. And for fairly little effort, Monument Mountain has fantastic views of three states from the 1,640-foot summit of Squaw Peak.

Other areas worth checking out are Hubbard River Gorge and Bash Bish Falls. The gorge drops 450 feet over 2.5 miles with numerous falls along the way. And Bash Bish Falls is one of the favorite waterfalls in the state.

Boundaries:   West of I-91. South of Rt. 9 and I-90.

MA - Central South   

The Central South region is bounded by the Connecticut River to the west, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, and partially by the ocean along its southeastern border. The 117-mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and the 92-mile Midstate Trail run through this section.

The Midstate Trails traverses the 5,730-acre Douglas State Forest which touches both Connecticut and Rhode Island. This is a popular area for hiking and includes a rare example of Atlantic White Cedar swampland.

Upton State Forest offers walking across small hills and past interesting boulders within its 2,600 acres.

Boundaries:   East of I-91. West of I-495. South of I-90.

MA - Southeast   

The Atlantic Ocean forms a large part of the boundaries for the Southeast region. This section has ample options for both coastal and forest walks.

The unique coastal trails of the Cape Code National Seashore offer unusual microenvironments with beaches, sand dunes, grasses, and bird watching.

Myles Standish State Forest has 16 ponds and 13 miles of hiking trails scattered across its 14,000 acres. The forest includes one of the largest contiguous pitch pine/scrub oak communities north of Long Island and there are also several ecologically significant coastal plain "kettle" ponds.

The 387-foot Noanet Peak located in the Noanet Woodlands, offers views of unbroken forest and rolling hills as well as the Boston skyline.

Blue Hills Reservation is a quiet, wooded, hilly area close to Boston. Its rugged terrain includes 20 hilltops, an extensive trail network, and good views.

Boundaries:   South of I-90. East of I-495.

Hike to a heron rookery at Wachusett Meadows (photo by Webmaster)

Goldthread along the Midstate Trail from Rutland to Barre (photo by Webmaster)


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