Hiking Trails in Central Mass


The sun is setting later, the trees are budding, the flowers are popping, and the weather is taking a turn for the warmer. New England is a little slice of heaven during the warmer months and Central Mass is at the heart of it.

With so many places to get outside and explore here are my favorite hiking trails in Central Mass to get the endorphins going:

Echo Lake Trail (Wachusett Mountain)

This beautiful scenic trail is perfect for families. It’s often not as busy as the main trail and while there isn’t as much parking it’s well worth it. You start with nice flat trails that are perfect for little ones who want to explore. After passing Echo Lake, you then start your ascent. Not long after you come to an apple orchard. This is a perfect place to rest, run, or have a snack. It’s a great turnaround spot if you don’t want to do the whole trail. After that, you keep climbing and eventually merge with more popular trails. This is the longest trail I’ve done at Wachusett Mountain. It’s definitely my favorite! It is perfect for dogs and kids!

Leominster State Forest (Leominster)

If you’re looking for trails that have a mix of trail running and hiking then Leominster State Park is it! With over 4,300 acres, you can choose from many trails to explore and potentially see some wildlife!

Cascades (Worcester, Holden, and Paxton)

After moving to Worcester from Sterling, I worried I left my direct access to the woods behind me, but when I found the Cascades everything changed! There are many ways to explore this area with parking and entrances off of 122A and Reservoir Rd on the Worcester/Holden line. My personal favorite is Boynton Park. This unofficial dog park is a great place to hike with little ones while letting your dog run off-leash. Keep in mind that most dog owners don’t leash dogs on this trail. The one-mile meadow loop trail is perfect for practicing hiking with a baby in a pack or carrier. Off of the main trail in Boynton Park are plenty of other trails.

Purgatory Chasm (Sutton)

Purgatory Chasm is an incredible place for all kids especially elementary-aged kids to explore! There’s a bathroom, picnic tables, and playground as well as multiple rock faces in the chasm for kids to explore and discover. Dogs are allowed on leash on all trails. With multiple loops that start and end at the chasm, there’s plenty to do!

Hopkinton State Park (Hopkinton)

This is a great spot if you’re closer to the Metrowest part of Massachusetts. There are trails to hike or run, roads to ride bikes on, and places to swim. It’s truly a spot you can spend all day at!

From any lot, you can hike your way through the woods and end at the DCR run swimming hole. It is guarded from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It has a nice beach as well as boat rental. If you want to continue hiking there are plenty of trails that go past the beach and up into the woods. It’s a huge state park that allows more miles of hiking but not a ton of elevation so it’s perfect for families.

Worcester Urban East-West Trail (Worcester)

This is a unique hiking trail in Central Mass. This 14-mile trail stretches from the east to west areas of Worcester. It flows through trails like the cascades to parks like Coes Park. While it may not be your typical hike, it’s a great way to explore the heart of Massachusetts!

Having grown up hiking, all of these trails are near and dear to my heart. With so many hiking trails in Central Mass to choose from there is no wrong way to hike. These trails can be done with kids on foot or in carriers or hiking packs.

Central Mass is such a special place and we’re lucky to live in an area that provides such great access to nature and hiking. Happy hiking!


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