First Day Hikes in Western MA

DCR Sponsors First Day Hikes

“What better way to kick off the new year than with a hike at a state park?” said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Please join us outdoors on New Year’s Day.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free “First Day” family hikes in 14 state parks across the Commonwealth on New Year’s Day, as a way to connect children and parents with the great outdoors even – or maybe especially – in winter. Several will be here in Western MA.

First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views and vistas unimpeded by foliage. Wildlife that might be spied along these walks will almost certainly include song birds, turkeys and bald eagles. If you do see a Bald Eagle, remember that MassWildlife is holding their Midwinter Bald Eagle survey period right now through January 12, 2011. Everyone who is outdoors and sees an eagle during this time period is encouraged to report his or her sighting! You can send your report to mass.wildlife@state.ma.us. Please provide the date, time, location, and town of eagle sightings, plus the number of birds, whether juvenile or adult, and your contact information.

If you’re lucky (and quiet), you might also catch sight of a red fox, moose, porcupine or fisher.  The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Pocket Guide to Animal Tracks can help identify which animals may have passed by.

DCR’s First Day Hikes in Western MA include:

The DCR advises that in preparation for each hike, pay close attention to the details of starting time and location. Dress warmly. Wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves. Binoculars always come in handy, and do bring water.

In the event of inclement weather, please call 617-626-1450 after 3 p.m. on December 31 for any possible cancellations.  All hikes will be led by park staff members and will last about two hours. Participants are urged to arrive half an hour early to register. For details, visit www.mass.gov

Other (non-DCR) first day hikes:

  • 10am: First Day 2011 Hike with Williamsburg Woodland Trails at Bradley Sanctuary.  Directions here. 268-7523 Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

Great Parks Pursuit: Outdoor Family Adventure Game

Great Park Pursuit: The MA State Park Family Adventure

The Great Park Pursuit

Outdoor adventure game challenges all ages to disconnect from cyberspace and reconnect with open space.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is launching its fourth annual Great Park Pursuit, a summer-long series of free family adventures in Massachusetts state parks. This year, families will design their own Park Pursuit adventures with activities they choose.

“We envision the Great Park Pursuit as a first step in building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “The Great Park Pursuit gives participants a sampling of what our more than 450,000 acres of state parks offer on a daily basis. Let’s not let television and the Internet replace wonderful, traditional activities like hiking, fishing, and biking.”

Each year, several hundred families have participated in the Great Park Pursuit, hiking to beautiful views, learning to fish, pitching a tent, roasting s’mores, discovering secrets of the past, riding in horse-drawn wagons, and much more.

This year’s program will run through September 18th. DCR parks across the Massachusetts will host Great Park Pursuit activities at various times and locations throughout the summer. Teams are challenged to participate in six programs in several themed categories by September 18th. Categories include “Into the Woods,” “Go Wild,” “Explore the Night” and more. Adults and children will step back in time, discover secrets of the coast, and get to know the night sky.

The Great Park Pursuit is free, but teams must register to be eligible to participate. For information and to register, visit www.greatparkpursuit.org.


About The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR):

An agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.

Great Park Pursuit: The MA State Park Family Adventure

Great Park Pursuit: The MA State Park Family Adventure

The Great Park PursuitThe Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is launching its third annual Great Park Pursuit, a summer-long series of free family adventures in Massachusetts state parks. This year, families will design their own Park Pursuit adventures with activities they choose.

“We envision the Great Park Pursuit as a first step in building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said DCR  Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “The Great Park Pursuit gives participants a sampling of what our more than 450,000 acres of state parks offer on a daily basis. Let’s not let television and the Internet replace wonderful, traditional activities like hiking, fishing, and biking.”

During each of the first two years of the Great Park Pursuit, several hundred families participated across the Commonwealth. They hiked to beautiful views, learned to fish, pitched a tent, roasted s’mores, discovered secrets of the past, rode in horse-drawn wagons, and much more.

This year’s program will run July 10 through Sept. 12. DCR parks across the Commonwealth will host Great Park Pursuit activities at various times and locations throughout the summer. Teams are challenged to participate in six programs in several themed categories by Sept. 12th. Categories include “Into the Woods,” “Go Wild,” “Explore the Night” and more. They will step back in time, discover secrets of the coast, and get to know the night sky. Teams will collect special program stickers at each participating DCR park and chronicle their adventures on the team card that they download from the DCR website.  They can also track their adventures with stories and photos on their personal Great Park Pursuit homepage.

Great Park Pursuit teams can be families, but they can be other groups of adults and children, too. Each team must include at least one person 18 years or older and at least one person under 18.

The rise in childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease is a growing national crisis. The health and well-being of children is critical. Outdoor experiences in early childhood can help children get on the path to a healthy and active lifestyle, and create the next generation of stewards of our parks and natural resources.

The Great Park Pursuit is free, but teams must register to be eligible to win the prizes. For more information, visit www.greatparkpursuit.org.


About The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR):

An agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.

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