10 Family Hikes to Get You Through Summer


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Summer in the city is all about planning adventures with the kids. Whether you meet friends at the local spray deck, ferry over to the Harbor Islands or head to a nearby beach, making each day count is the way Boston families roll. When it comes to outside adventures it doesn’t get any better than finding a kid-friendly hike in the city. That’s why we’ve mapped out ten family-friendly hikes near Boston that give kids all the space they need to burn off energy and soak up the sunshine. Our guide includes everything from easy hikes for tots to hikes that challenge big kids (and maybe parents, too). Here’s where families can get out and explore before summer ends.

Elm Bank Reservation, Wellsley
Woodland wildlife meets gorgeous and colorful gardens at this green space where you’ll find more than enough kid-friendly hikes to keep your little campers happy until school starts. While families can enjoy strolling along the banks of the Charles River for free. Or you can pay the entrance fee (or enjoy your membership) and take the kids to explore the Garden on the grounds. Find all the summer magic you need at Weezie’s Garden or plan to play a bit after you’re hike when you drop in on a family program.

More info: mass.gov


Hopkinton State Park, Hopkinton
One of the joys of going on a kid-friendly hike in summer is that your unplanned adventure can last all day as long as you’ve got the right provisions with you. Bring a picnic, bathing suits and beach towels along on this trip and you’ve got a full day of outdoor activity planned. Walk through wetlands along Duck Pond Trail and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife when you do. Or pick one of the many trails that skirt the swimming beach. Hike for a bit; swim for a bit; then sit down to lunch at a picnic bench.

More info: mass.gov


Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield
Twelve miles of trails wind through this wildlife sanctuary that’s got tons of outdoor elements kids love. Boardwalks through wetlands, small pools and intriguing boulders will help motivate them as you explore the property. You’ll have more than enough kid-friendly hike options if you start at the Visitor’s Center and go from there. But no matter what you do, don’t miss a trip to the rockery—a grotto of narrow passages and caves that kids of all ages (and their parents) find totally fascinating. You’ll find it at the end of the Rockery Trail.

Insider tip: A Free August Adventure is scheduled at the wildlife sanctuary on August 23.

More info: massaudubon.org

Related: 7 Blooming Good Hikes to Take This Spring


Walden Pond Reservation, Concord
While Thoreau treasured being alone at Walden Pond, families can treasure together time hiking its many easy trails that offer a different kind of solitude. Put the popular Pond Path on your list. The easy one-mile trek starts at the Thoreau House replica and follows the pond to the original home site. With a relatively level path, even tots can handle this one (although it never hurts to bring a stroller or carrier along). But if a StoryWalk is what you’ve got planned, Walden Pond has a good one. Kids can read Henry David Thoreau Bell Ringer for Justice page-by-page to add a little something to the experience.

More info: mass.gov


Breakheart Reservation, Saugus
Not too far from Walden Pond you’ll find this reservation that offers miles of trails and city views from its many vistas. During the summers, families congregate around Pearce Lake at the swimming beach, a perfect place to cool off after making the climb up nearby Eagle Rock. It’s the just-right spot to take an easy stroll around the lake, pack a picnic and spend time forest bathing this summer.

More info: mass.gov


Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Natick
With nine miles of trails to explore, this wildlife sanctuary will keep your kids wandering and wondering all day long. When it comes to kid-friendly hikes, try the one-mile Charles River Trail. It’s a loop trail that’s vibrant with cardinal flower blooms in the summer. If you’ve got your stroller, the All Persons Trail will give you just over half a mile to hike and maybe even the chance to spy some turtles too.

Good to know: This park is only open Tuesday through Sunday, from dawn to dusk.

More info: massaudubon.org

Related: Boston’s Top 10 Stroller Hikes to Get Your Family Moving

kids point to something interesting in the forest as they are out for a family friendly, kid friendly hike

Middlesex Fells Reservation, Stoneham
Although families can traverse around 100 miles in this reservation, there’s so much more to this massive park that includes Stone Zoo in its borders. Mountain bikes are a great summer accessory here, and your furriest family members will enjoy some off-leash time at Sheepfold Meadow (leashed dogs are welcome on the trails). Make a day of it by packing a picnic, stopping by the playground and renting a canoe (ages 8 and up) at Spot Pond.

More info: mass.gov


Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, Sutton
Purgatory Chasm is a unique natural landmark offering exciting adventure along short trails perfect for little legs. Follow trails to rock formations like The Corn Crib, The Coffin and Lovers’ Leap. When you’re done check out the great family programming that runs through the end of August. We’re big fans of Monday’s Kidleidoscope program aimed at preschoolers. It’s a chance to them to hike, craft and sit down for storytime all in one program.

Insider tip: Mark your calendars for August 27. Let’s just say it’ll be batty.

More info: mass.gov

Related: Boston’s 10 Best Hikes (for When You Need to Get Outside)

family hiking with baby and child in stroller - camping with baby

Borderland State Park, Easton
Borderland State Park features a historic mansion open that’s for tours (hint: the kid-friendly tours run Sunday and Monday from 3-3:30 p.m. and required registration). This park also features trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding, and families can fish and boat on the pond. If you want to make a day of it, check out the facilities for tennis and disc golf after you’ve explored the trails. Borderlands features over 20 miles of hiking trails ranging from moderate to difficult and many of them are stroller friendly.

More info: mass.gov


Rocky Narrows, Sherborn
By foot or canoe, enjoy incomparable views of the Charles River at its most serene as it slowly winds between granite walls. Or amble among pine groves and past wetlands along seven miles of trails and footpaths. A two-mile hike follows the river’s edge south before reaching successive overlooks, and it’s perfect for families. Rocky Narrows Overlook takes some effort to reach, but you’ll be rewarded with views of steep, hemlock-covered cliffs that form a narrow river passage—the landmark that gives the reservation its name.

More info: thetrustees.org

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