Fresh Air, Blue Skies — Enjoy the Beauty of a New England Winter!

  • Visit North Central
  • Posted on January 11, 2021

The holiday season is over, and visions of sugarplums are no longer dancing in your head — now they’re jumping up and down on your bathroom scale. It’s so easy to over-indulge at this time of year, especially when many activities have been limited due to the pandemic.

It’s time to get off the couch, away from those computer, tablet and phone screens, and into the great outdoors! North Central Massachusetts offers an abundance of wide-open spaces where you can stretch your legs, breathe fresh air, and appreciate Nature’s beauty while practicing safe distancing.

Take a hike

Miles and miles and miles of trails are available throughout the region for easy walks or more strenuous hikes. But where to begin? How about a stroll, or a power-walk, along the North Central Pathway, winding through Gardner and Winchendon? 

The pathway is open from dawn to dusk for recreational use including walking, jogging, bicycling, and more — and you don’t have to worry about motorized vehicles, since ATVs, snowmobiles and dirt bikes are prohibited. Some sections of the trail are even plowed during the winter for walking ease.

Many state parks and recreation areas welcome walkers, too. The Department of Conservation and Recreation website offers a comprehensive list of trail maps to get you started on your way.

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A little boy in a red jumpsuit and scarf is fishing in an ice hole with his father.

Enjoy the Snow

If you love cross-country skiing, you’ve come to the right place! State and local parks provide countless opportunities for you to indulge in the sport. Leominster State Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts all year round — and in winter, a great place to give your cross-country skis or snowshoes a workout. 

In Gardner, Dunn State Park is a wonderful place to visit. The walking trails are available for cross country skiing and you might be able to get in a bit of ice skating on the pond, too! Otter River State Forest in Baldwinville, Lake Dennison Recreation Area in nearby Winchendon, and Pearl Hill State Park in Townsend all welcome cross-country skiers.  Other public options include the Nashua River Rail Trail in Ayer and Wachusett Mountain State Reservation in Princeton.

Is downhill skiing more your speed? Then Wachusett Mountain Ski Area is the spot for you! With 18 trails serviced by five lifts and 100% snowmaking ability, Wachusett is always ready to welcome you. Of course, there are COVID regulations in place, so be sure to check out the ski area’s website for details before you visit.

Catch Some Quiet time

If you enjoy the solitude of a quiet expanse of ice — and the prospects of landing a tasty trout or two — the lakes and ponds of North Central Massachusetts are waiting for you! When Mother Nature cooperates and sends temperatures plummeting, it’s time to head out for a peaceful day of ice fishing!

Most state parks that feature fishing in warm weather also allow ice fishing. Before heading out, though, be sure to check on ice conditions to ensure a safe experience. Because COVID restrictions are subject to change, a call to the park you want to visit is a good idea.

Looking for a great winter experience while complying with all safe distancing requirements? The fresh air of North Central Massachusetts is waiting for you!