It’s a Dog’s Life!

  • David Ginisi

If your family is traveling through Johnny Appleseed’s backyard, there will come a time when you just need to get out of the car and stretch. And if one of your family members happens to be a canine, chances are good that you’re on the prowl for a safe spot to let Fido take a romp, too. Yes, even your faithful companion can enjoy the country atmosphere of North Central Massachusetts. Many communities throughout the region have created family – and pooch – friendly dog parks. Consider these spots when your four-legged friend needs a break.


The Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center on Route 2 westbound, between Exits 35 and 34. The center has a dog-walk area, as well as restrooms for you and the kids. Leominster’s pet-friendly spots include Prospect Park off Prospect Street. The city of Fitchburg has opened an official dog park at Coolidge Park, 198 Townsend St. Bring Fido to socialize with other dogs, and have a chance to play off-leash! It features separate areas for large and small dogs, dog waste bag and receptacle stations, picnic tables, a shade shelter, and more. Heading to Gardner? Stop at Dunn State Park, 289 Pearl Street, which has trails a pong and picnic areas to enjoy. Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, 345 Mountain Road, Princeton, is a great place for everyone to get a workout, especially if you visit the summit, with its fabulous vistas; you can see all the way to Boston on a clear day.

Want to take a hike – and bring Fido along? Try the Nashua River Trail in Groton, Ayer and Pepperell, one of 1600 rail-trails supported by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The region is also home to many farms and apple orchards that welcome pets, including Sholan Farms at 1125 Pleasant St., a popular pick-your-own orchard; Doe Orchard, 327 Ayer Rd, Harvard; Bolton Spring Farm, 149 Main St., Bolton; Nasoba Valley Winery Orchard at 100 Wattaquadock Hill Rd., Bolton; and Clearview Farm at 4 Kendall Hill Rd., Sterling. For more information about local dog-friendly places, visit – and give your traveling family a much-needed chance to stretch and enjoy the scenery!