Location: Harold Parker State Forest, Andover, MA
Date: January 3, 2015
Distance: 1.63 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 102 feet
Our Hiking Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes roundtrip
Trail Blaze: White Squares
The first hike of the New Year is always an adventure in Massachusetts! Sometimes it’s a snowshoe romp while other times, like this year, there’s not even a flake of snow on the ground. With lots of kids in tow, we headed to one of our favorite local hiking spots – Harold Parker State Forest. Joining our family of five were Kendra’s mom, Jane, our niece and nephew, Eoin, and Bria, and Kendra’s childhood friend Amy, her husband, and their two little ones. We were quite the troop – nothing like seven kids seven and under let loose on the trail!
It was clear there are a number of beavers living in Harold Parker State Forest, especially given the number of fallen, and almost fallen, trees we encountered.
The kids were especially excited about all of the frozen ponds and small pools we passed. There was a lot of “ice skating” throughout the hike, inspired by a hockey player skating on Delano Pond, and another skater making long loops on Collins Pond.
We also conquered some tricky crossings for little ones – small wooden bridges and crumbling concrete dams. With some teamwork, we got everyone across safely.
The kids had a blast. There were boulders to climb, fallen trees to conquer, and wintergreen to chew. It was a great first hike of the year!
Directions to the trailhead:
Though there are several entrances to Harold Parker State Forest, we used the entrance off of Rt. 125 in Andover, MA.
From I-93: Take exit 41, follow 125 north (toward Andover), for about 4 miles to the State Police Barracks (on right). Turn right on Harold Parker Rd. The trailhead parking is the first lot on your left (approximately .5 miles).
From 495N: Take exit 42A, travel east on Rt. 114 for 2 miles. Take a right onto Rt. 125. Drive 3.8 miles to the State Police Barracks (on left). Turn left on Harold Parker Rd. The trailhead parking is the first lot on your left (approximately .5 miles).