Photo Credit : Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress
Need a little fresh air? You don’t have to look far for an outdoor escape in New England, which is filled with top-notch state parks. Some are even worthy of planning a vacation around, whether for a unique location (a lake island) or natural grandeur (endless acres of pristine forest). No matter what part of New England you’re in, there’s a state park you can’t miss. Read on for Yankee editors’ picks for the best state parks in New England.
The beauty of the White Mountains comes into vivid focus at these 6,692 acres in Franconia and Lincoln. Two superb lakes, the Flume Gorge, hiking trails, and even an aerial tramway all play starring roles in this natural showcase.
It’s a trek to reach this most spectacular chunk of wilderness, up in rural Piscataquis County — but so worth it. There’s Katahdin, of course, but also the Penobscot River, lakes, waterfalls, 215 miles of trails, and 337 campsites.
Land and sea find scenic harmony along Narragansett Bay, as this 464-acre Bristol park beckons the recreation-minded with biking and walking trails, grassy spots that are ideal for picnicking or tossing a Frisbee, and a public boat launch on the threshold of the open Atlantic.
Look past Cape Cod’s seaside charms and you’ll find an equally beautiful interior. Nickerson’s many trails and campsites nestle into a mix of deep woods, meadows, and freshwater ponds, while its bike path connects to the Cape’s famous rail trail.
While many state parks are remote, this Lake Champlain island — reached only by private boat or a 10-minute ferry ride — is a true get-away-from-it-all experience. Hike, swim, and (if you planned ahead, which you should) camp out in tranquility.
Rugged, it’s not. But magical? Without a doubt. With its 1906 Italianate mansion, formal gardens, and expansive views of Long Island Sound, this seaside escape in Waterford takes state parks to a whole new level of sophistication.
Which do you think are the best state parks in New England? Let us know!
These “Editors’ Picks for Outdoor Explorers” originally appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Yankee.