Just because there is a little snow on the ground doesn't mean you have to hang up your hiking boots for the winter. On the contrary, winter is a great time of year to hit the trail and Massachusetts has plenty of excellent options for hikers who don't mind braving the colder temperatures. Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll through lush woods or a strenuous workout with a scenic payoff, we have some suggestions on where to go for a great winter trek. As always, don't forget to pack a few extra layers, bring some trail snacks, and watch the weather closely.
Here are our picks for the five best winter trails that Massachusetts has to offer, giving you an array of options to choose from.
Savoy Mountain State Forest: Berkshires
If solitude is what you're looking for, the Savoy Mountain State Forest will have plenty to offer, particularly during the winter. Located in a remote corner of the state, the park spreads out across more than a thousand acres directly in the shadow of the Hoosac Mountain Range of the Berkshires. The forest has more than 50 miles of trail to explore on foot, snowshoes, or cross-country skis, making it perfect for winter adventures. We recommend taking the Busby Trail up Spruce Hill for some especially scenic views or alternatively hike to Tannery Falls, which becomes a 50-foot glistening frozen wall during the winter months.
Blue Hills Reservation: Boston
Located not far from bustling downtown Boston, Blue Hills Reservation is a great reminder that you don't have to wander far from the city to enjoy a terrific hike. Covering more than 7000 acres, the nature reserve has over 125 miles of trails to explore, many of which wander up, across, and around the 22 bluffs that make up the Blue Hills chain. The 4.4-mile Ponkapoag Pond Trail is a good choice in any season, but during the winter the fresh snow brings a sense of quiet solitude that can be difficult to find during other times of the year. Visitors can also climb to the very top of the Great Blue Hill, which at 635-feet in height is the tallest point in the park. From the summit, you'll find wonderful views of the surrounding countryside, including Boston itself.
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary: Easthampton
What the 723-acre Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary lacks in size, it more than makes up for in its diversity of landscapes. The preserve has just 5 miles of trail in total, but those routes wander through lush forests, open meadows, dense grasslands, and wild marshes all within a relatively small area. Arcadia also happens to be home to an array of wildlife, including great blue herons, bald eagles, and several species of ducks. During the winter months adventurous travelers can take part in regular nature programs with options for both young and old hikers alike.
Mohawk Trail State Forest: Charlemont
For a truly spectacular winter trek, head to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts to spend some time exploring the Mohawk Trail State Forest. This 6000-acre preserve becomes a winter-wonderland when covered in snow, with its rivers, ponds, and streams turning to icy sculptures for the season. Seclusion is part of the appeal, as the forest is located far from any urban areas, providing plenty of peace and quiet out on the trail. More adventurous travelers can even elect to stay the night in one of several cabins that are located within the park's boundaries. Heated by wood-burning stoves, these quaint — but cozy — cabins make for a wonderful winter getaway.
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation (Princeton)
The 3000-acre Wachusett Mountain State Reservation is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders during the winter, but the park also has a number of hiking trails that are open year-round as well. There are more than 17 miles of trail criss-crossing the Wachusett landscapes, including several that climb up to the mountain's summit. Standing more than 2000 feet above the surrounding area, the payoff for a trek to the top is epic views of the region. On a clear day, you can see for miles, with the landscape blanketed nicely in a fine white powder.
Whether you're looking for an easy ascent to the top, or a more aerobic workout, you'll find something that fits your needs. Pine Hill Trail is the shortest and steepest route up the hill, making it a popular choice for those looking to get their heart pumping. Meanwhile, the popular Loop Trail is a bit easier, although you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for skiers, as the route does cross through an active ski area, That challenge aside however, the trail really is a fantastic winter walk.