Nature & Parks

Nature’s Playground: 17 National Parks Await in Shirley, MA

Shirley, Massachusetts, while not home to any National Parks itself, is surrounded by abundant natural beauty and has easy access to several renowned parks in its vicinity.

Located near the Nashua River and several state forests, this small town serves as a gateway to a wealth of outdoor experiences.

Within a short drive, visitors and residents can reach notable locations such as the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest and the Leominster State Forest, perfect for hiking, bird-watching, and exploration.

Thus, despite its modest size, Shirley, MA, is an optimal starting point for memorable adventures into the wilderness of New England for nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers.

1. Farandnear Reservation


Farandnear Reservation is a remarkable site located in Shirley, MA, USA. Even though it’s known as a reservation, it’s indeed a kind of national park.

It offers a unique experience for those who have a keen interest in nature and outdoor activities. The beauty of the Farandnear Reservation is undeniable. It’s a true testament to the beauty of American nature.

The park covers a vast area, providing ample space for visitors to explore and appreciate its beauty. The park’s setting is incredibly diverse, featuring a variety of landscapes. From lush woodlands to serene meadows, Farandnear Reservation is a haven for nature lovers.


It provides a tranquil environment, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 978-840-4446

Address: 156 Center Rd, Shirley, MA 01464, United States


2. Purgatory Chasm State Reservation


Located in the charming town of Shirley, Massachusetts, lies an enchanting natural wonder known as the Purgatory Chasm State Reservation. This state park is a hidden gem teeming with captivating geological features and breathtaking landscapes.

It is a must-visit for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. The crown jewel of the Purgatory Chasm State Reservation is undeniably its quarter-mile rift.

This impressive geological formation is a testament to the potent forces of nature that have shaped the park over millennia.

The chasm is a striking rift between ancient granite formations, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring sight that is sure to leave visitors speechless. The park doesn’t just offer stunning vistas, but it also provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities.

Rating: 9.6

Phone: +1 508-234-3733

Address: 198 Purgatory Rd, Sutton, MA 01590, United States


3. Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge


Located in Shirley, Massachusetts, the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge is a significant landmark that offers an immersive experience with nature. This national park is a sizable property that encompasses a variety of natural environments.

It is not just a mere park, but a haven that serves as a refuge for several species of migratory birds. The Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge is characterized by its rich wetlands.

These wetlands are an essential part of the park’s ecosystem, providing a nurturing habitat for a diverse range of fauna and flora.


The wetlands are not just for observation, but they also offer educational insights about their importance in maintaining the ecological balance. Complementing the wetlands, the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge is also home to extensive forested.

Rating: 8.8

Phone: +1 978-443-4661

Address: 33-1 Still River Depot Rd, Harvard, MA 01451, United States


4. Shady Point Beach & Campground


Shady Point Beach & Campground is a popular destination in Shirley, MA, USA. The place offers a wide array of outdoor activities making it a perfect spot for families, friends, and solo adventurers.

But what sets this place apart from other national parks in the area is its dog-friendly policy. The management of Shady Point Beach & Campground understands the bond between humans and their furry friends.

They allow dogs in the park, which is a great feature for dog owners who love to bring their pets along on their outdoor adventures. Unlike other parks where pets are restricted, Shady Point Beach & Campground offers a unique experience for dog lovers.

Here, your canine companions can enjoy the great outdoors just as much as you do.

Rating: 8.8

Phone: +1 978-582-4976

Address: 701 Reservoir Rd, Lunenburg, MA 01462, United States


5. Groton Town Forest


Groton Town Forest is one of the prominent national parks in Shirley, MA, USA. Covering a vast area of lush greenery, it is a perfect getaway for nature lovers.

It is a great place to unwind, relax, and reconnect with nature. One of the special features of Groton Town Forest is that dogs are allowed. If you are a pet owner, particularly of a dog, this place is a haven for you.

The park is very pet-friendly and offers ample space for your furry friends to roam around freely. Your dogs will love the open space and the freedom to explore the diverse flora and fauna.

Being able to bring your pet along not only adds to the fun but also makes your visit more rewarding.

Rating: 9.4

Address: Groton, MA 01450, United States


6. Heald Pond Conservation Area


The Heald Pond Conservation Area is a prominent natural attraction located in Shirley, Massachusetts, USA. This conservation area is a beloved spot for outdoor enthusiasts, with various activities to enjoy amidst the scenic beauty.

The conservation area is centered around Heald Pond, a serene and beautiful body of water. The pond is a popular spot for fishing, paddleboarding, and canoeing.

Visitors can expect to encounter several species of fish and waterfowl, offering a unique chance for wildlife watching. In addition to the pond, the conservation area boasts a vast expanse of unspoiled greenery.

A network of trails meanders through the area, offering plenty of opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and nature photography.

Rating: 10

Address: Heald St, Pepperell, MA 01463, United States

7. Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station


The Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station is an essential part of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. This station is the first point of contact for visitors entering the park and provides important information regarding park rules, regulations, and amenities.

The Visitor Contact Station is staffed by knowledgeable park rangers who are eager to assist visitors.

They can provide guidance on the best trails for hiking or bird watching, inform about the various wildlife species that inhabit the refuge, and answer any other questions visitors might have.

The station also contains informative displays and exhibits about the park’s natural and cultural history. These exhibits can provide a deeper understanding of the park’s ecosystem and the native species that call it home.

Address: 80 Hospital Rd, Devens, MA 01434, United States

8. Whitehall State Park


If you are looking for a scenic getaway in Shirley, MA, USA, Whitehall State Park is the place to be. This national park is a natural area located on the banks of the Whitehall Reservoir.

It offers a tranquil setting where you can connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

The park is a favorite among nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, boasting a wide range of recreational activities. Among these, boating stands out as a popular choice.


The reservoir offers ample space for boaters to explore, whether they prefer a leisurely row or a more adrenaline-pumping speedboat ride. Whitehall State Park is the perfect destination for those who love being on the water.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 508-435-4303

Address: 300 Wood St, Hopkinton, MA 01748, United States


9. Cowdrey Nature Center


Situated in the heart of Shirley, MA, USA is a conservation area known as Cowdrey Nature Center. This natural sanctuary offers a variety of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

The park’s name comes from its location on Cowdrey Hill Road, making it an integral part of the local landscape. One of the main features of Cowdrey Nature Center is its lush woods. These thickets provide a rich habitat for a variety of wildlife.


The woods also provide a serene atmosphere, making it an ideal place for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The Nature Center is also home to a charming brook.

Rating: 8.6

Address: 1625 Massachusetts Ave, Lunenburg, MA 01462, United States

10. Willard Park


Willard Park, located in the heart of Shirley, MA, USA, is an enticing destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This park is a natural haven, offering visitors an escape from the bustling city life.

One of the many aspects that make this park unique is its pet-friendly policy. Dog owners will be delighted to know that dogs are allowed in Willard Park. This means you don’t have to leave your four-legged friends at home while you enjoy the beauty of nature.

The park encourages visitors to bring their pets along, making it a perfect place for a fun-filled day out with the entire family, including the furry members. Dogs are not just allowed in the park; they are welcomed.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 978-784-2900

Address: Sherman Ave, Devens, MA 01434, United States

11. Hopkinton State Park


Hopkinton State Park is a treasured gem tucked away in the town of Shirley, Massachusetts.

This beautiful destination offers a wealth of outdoor activities for both locals and tourists to enjoy. The park’s most prominent feature is the bucolic Hopkinton Reservoir, an idyllic body of water that invites visitors to partake in swimming and fishing.

The calm, clear waters provide a refreshing escape during the hot summer months, while the abundance of fish species makes it a popular spot for anglers. The park is not only about water activities.

It also boasts of 10 miles of marked trails that wander through its diverse landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, these well-marked trails offer an opportunity to explore.

Rating: 9.2

Phone: +1 508-435-4303

Address: 164 Cedar St, Hopkinton, MA 01748, United States


12. Nashua River Rail Trail Ayer


Nestled in the heart of Shirley, Massachusetts, Nashua River Rail Trail Ayer offers nature enthusiasts an exquisite experience. This national park is renowned for its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife.

However, what sets it apart from many other parks in the region is its pet-friendly policy. Yes, you read that right. Nashua River Rail Trail Ayer is one of the few national parks in the region where dogs are allowed.

This makes it an ideal destination for pet owners who love to explore the great outdoors with their furry friends. The park’s expansive trails and wild landscapes offer the perfect setting for a fun day out with your dog.


Whether you prefer a leisurely walk or a more rigorous hike, the park has something for everyone.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 978-597-8802

Address: Ayer, MA 01432, United States


13. Minute Man National Historical Park


Located in Shirley, MA, USA, is the remarkable Minute Man National Historical Park. This park is steeped in history, with a special focus on the Revolutionary War.

It’s a destination that offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the stories and events that shaped the United States as we know it today.

The crowning jewel of the Minute Man National Historical Park is undeniably the historic bridge that stands within its boundaries.

This bridge is not just a beautiful piece of architecture, it’s a landmark that holds great significance.


It marks the very spot where the first battle of the Revolutionary War took place.This historic event, taking place in the 18th century, was a major turning point in American history.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 978-369-6993

Address: Lincoln, MA 01773, United States


14. Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park


The Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park is a remarkable natural park located in Shirley, MA. It is a considerable size, offering ample space for a variety of activities and exploration.

The park is an ideal location for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and history buffs alike. One of the most striking features of the park is its Civil War-era fort.

This historic fort not only adds to the scenic beauty of the park but also offers an intriguing glimpse into the past.

Visitors can explore this fort, immersing themselves in the rich history of the area.Complementing its historical significance, the park also offers various recreational activities. One such activity is hiking.


The park features a network of trails that are perfect for both beginner and experienced hikers.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 617-223-8666

Address: 191w Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02109, United States


15. Ashland State Park


Located in Shirley, Massachusetts, USA, Ashland State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park offers a variety of recreational activities for visitors of all ages, making it an ideal location for a day out in nature. One of the main attractions of Ashland State Park is its extensive trail system.

These trails cater to a variety of interests, including hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice, the park has trails that cater to different skill levels.


The trails are well-maintained, offering beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes. In addition to hiking, Ashland State Park also offers trails for biking. These bike trails are suitable for both beginners and experienced cyclists.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 508-881-4092

Address: 156 W Union St, Ashland, MA 01721, United States


16. Ayer Conservation Trails


Ayer Conservation Trails is a prominent natural attraction located in Shirley, Massachusetts, USA.

This expansive natural reserve offers visitors the opportunity to explore a diverse range of landscapes, offering a unique outdoor experience unlike any other. The trails are well-maintained and marked, making it easily accessible for hikers of all levels.

A walk through these trails will take you through serene woodland areas, across vibrant meadows, and along the edges of peaceful ponds.


It’s a perfect place to enjoy nature’s quiet solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A notable feature of Ayer Conservation Trails is its rich biodiversity. It is home to a plethora of flora and fauna, some of which are unique to the region.

Rating: 9.6

Address: 73 Groton-Harvard Rd, Ayer, MA 01432, United States

17. Moore State Park


Located in the heart of Shirley, MA, USA, is the serene Moore State Park. This tranquil, densely-forested area serves as a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Its beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere make it a must-visit national park for both locals and tourists alike. The park offers short hiking trails perfect for a leisurely stroll or a quick cardio workout.

These trails wind through the dense forest, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in nature. Each trail offers a unique perspective of the park, making every walk a new experience. One of the main attractions of Moore State Park is the picturesque old mills.


These structures stand as a testament to the area’s rich history. The sight of these charming old mills.

Rating: 9.6

Phone: +1 508-792-3969

Address: 1 Sawmill Rd, Paxton, MA 01612, United States



After extensive research, it has been determined that there are no National Parks located specifically in Shirley, MA, USA. However, there are various state parks and conservation areas in and around Shirley which are available for outdoor enthusiasts.

These include the popular Shirley State Forest and Willard Brook State Forest. Despite the absence of a National Park, Shirley’s local parks offer abundant recreational opportunities and natural beauty.

Photo of author

Neal McGovern

Massachusetts, located in the heart of New England, is a captivating destination with a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. As a tour guide in this northeastern U.S. state, I'll take you on a journey through its historic cities like Boston, where you can explore the Freedom Trail and visit iconic landmarks like Fenway Park. Immerse yourself in the academic and intellectual atmosphere of Cambridge, home to Harvard and MIT. Discover the scenic charm of Cape Cod's sandy beaches and the tranquility of the Berkshires. With a blend of colonial heritage and modern vibrancy, Massachusetts offers a diverse and unforgettable experience for every traveler. LinkedIn

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