First Hike of 2015 at Harold Parker State Forest

Harold Parker State Forest
 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
Difficulty: Easy
Trail Map

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!

Harold Parker State Forest

Eoin, Addie, Khalil, Peter, and Jane checking out a frozen Brackett Pond.

Harold Parker State Forest

Eoin and Jane

Harold Parker State Forest

Brian and Addie

Harold Parker State Forest

Evan ready to go in his kid carrier.

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.

Harold Parker State Forest

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.

Harold Parker State Forest

Addie trying out “ice skating” on the trail.

We also conquered some tricky crossings for little ones – small wooden bridges and crumbling concrete dams. With some teamwork, we got everyone across safely.

Harold Parker State Forest

Addie and Bria crossing over a partially frozen stream.

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!

Harold Parker State Forest

Eoin led all the kids, climbing and balancing.

Harold Parker State Forest

Inspired by Eoin, Addie started climbing too!

Harold Parker State Forest

All the kids were bouldering!

Harold Parker State Forest

Eoin conquered the biggest boulder we found!

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).

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at

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4 Responses to First Hike of 2015 at Harold Parker State Forest

  1. Janeiack January 4, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    Thank you, Jen, for some fantastic hikes on my MA trip. Some had good excitement, but all were beautiful. I had not seen a frozen pond with an ice skater. I loved the lingering Christmas lights in N Andover and the stark trees at sunset. Thank you for sharing your beautiful state with this South Carolinian.

    • Jen January 6, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

      I am glad you had fun! And you left just in time – today it was only 18 degrees out!!!!

  2. Betty Jane Crandall January 5, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    How I love easy hikes….and Jane’s beaming is contagious to me…I am inspired to get my grandsons to take me on some easy hikes in my 75th year. Thank you for your wonderful photography and for teaching me. What would my life have been like had I had teachers like you when I was young…..Betty Jane

    • Jen January 6, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

      Thank you Betty Jane. Someday you should visit so I can take you on hikes with us!!!

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