Get Out

  • Visit North Central

Photo Credit: Marc N. Belanger

No, that’s not an order. It’s an invitation! While North Central Massachusetts is packed with great indoor spots to visit— from museums to breweries, bowling alleys and boutiques—no trip through the region would be complete without some serious outdoor time.

Throughout the rolling hillsides of the region, there are abundant state and local parks with trails to hike, rivers and lakes to paddle, and waterfalls to marvel at.

Take a Hike

Looking to stretch those car-weary leg muscles? Take a leisurely stroll through Fitchburg’s Coggshall Park, a surprising mecca not far from the city’s core, where ducks glide on Mirror Lake and trails meander through stretches of Mountain Laurel and other cooling greenery. Or head out for a walk along the Nashua River Rail Trail, which loosely parallels its namesake waterway. Built on a former Boston and Maine Railroad line, the trail starts its Massachusetts route in Ayer and passes through areas that are popular spots for wildlife viewing, including Pepperell Pond, J. Harry Rich State Forest and Groton School Pond. Also in the eastern part of the region, the Squannacook River Rail Trail offers an easy 1.8 mile trek in Townsend, from Depot Street in the town center to Townsend Harbor.

The Central Rail Trail has two trailheads with ample parking in Sterling and offers a level and smooth walk through mostly forested scenery. The Twin Cities Rail Trail, a 12-foot wide paved path, currently stretches about four miles from First Street in Fitchburg to Carter Park in Leominster, through residential areas, and past several community parks and playgrounds, local businesses, and the Fitchburg Municipal Airport.

Step into the region’s history with a walk along the Fitchburg Steam Line! This historic railway line was once used to transport goods and passengers, but today offers a glimpse into Fitchburg’s past and its infrastructure, from train stations to bridges and tunnels, right in the heart of the city. There is a 4.15 acre park at 465 Westminster Street, which includes a parking lot for the milelong walking trail along the Nashua River and Flag Brook.

Need more intense exercise? Look up to the summit of Wachusett Mountain in Princeton. The state reservation has marked trails leading to a stunning vista.

Dip In

Doanes Falls

Photo Credit: John Burk

When it’s time to cool off on a warm summer afternoon, head to a popular swimming area like Lake Dennison in Winchendon, Crow Hill Pond in Leominster State Forest, or Mirror Lake in Devens. State parks, pools and community ponds abound in the region, so you’re never far from a great spot to take a cool dip. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) offers an extensive guide to the state park system, complete with tips on finding great spots for swimming (as well as hiking, camping, fishing and even horseback riding). Visit to learn more about the wealth of outdoor activities offered.

Babbling Brooks Do you love the sound of rushing, splashing, tumbling water? Massachusetts reportedly has more than 100 waterfalls categorized as fans, cascades, or plunging falls, ranging from as little as 15 to several hundred feet in length. This region is home to several beautiful waterfalls tucked in cooling forest glades, including Doane’s Falls and Spirit Falls in Royalston, and Trap Falls in Ashby.

In addition to the state DCR website, you can find detailed information about waterfalls across the state at The Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center on Route 2 in Lancaster also offers a broad range of maps and books featuring great outdoor spots to visit in the region.

Head outside! Stretch your legs, breathe some fresh air, and enjoy the great outdoors here in Johnny Appleseed Country!