Camp Suburban Boston: Harold Parker State Forest MA
Amidst the spaghetti of Boston’s outlying towns, there’s a gem of a campground at Harold Parker State Forest north of the city. Sure, it’s not a federal campground—which would give you a cheap cheap night with your National Park Senior Pass—but this one’s not to sneeze at. Camp suburban Boston in North Andover and score big time: 5 stars, both thumbs up, A-OK.
What’s the campground called, exactly?
Technically, Lorraine Park Campground. However, it’s also listed under Harold Parker State Forest. The latter is a sprawled-out multi-use idyll offering all kinds of recreational activities, including the campground.
What’s the point of this factoid?
If you make a reservation via ReserveAmerica, program this campground into your GPS, or organize your overnights with the Ultimate Public Campground Project, keep the alternate names in mind: they could get confusing.
Sad to say, for overnighting, your orange-flowered-lifetime-benefit card won’t do you a whit of good in northeastern Massachusetts (or much of anywhere within a hundred miles or two). No federal campgrounds anywhere close.
So, why would a pinch-penny-card-toting-limited-budget 62 plusser want to stay at this campground?
The operative words: camp suburban Boston, kick back at Harold Parker, and see 4 National Parks
Yeppers, Harold Parker State Forest sits at a short drive from 4 National Park sites, and a few extras closer to Boston, depending on how you structure your trip.
To the east at oceanside, experience Salem Maritime National Historic Site at Salem MA. Yes, that’s also the focal point of the 17th century witch trials. Then there’s the port and seafaring history, a prosperous, large, and well-kept 18th century town, a ferry ride out of the bay and along the coast, the House of Seven Gables….You could easily spend a whole day wandering around it all.
North, you could spend another whole day at Lowell National Historical Park, which couldn’t be more different from Salem. There, you’ll dig into fabric manufacturing, mills, canals, workaday lives.
By now, blisters might be setting in. Your feet will have worked out tirelessly down old-fashioned streets, even if you do hitch rides on awesome-fun trolleys or canal boats.
No prob. You can go smaller scale a few miles south of Harold Parker State Forest at
A more compact National Park site featuring an early-settler iron forge: Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.
Lexington and Concord MA
More? Yeppers. Another National Park site where you could spend all day: Minute Man National Historical Park.
You’ll need a place to rest your weary head (not to mention your lower extremities)…
A place to camp suburban Boston on the north side of the city.
This is where
Harold Parker State Forest comes in.
And it’s a gem. Take a look
In a few words:
Are large, woodsy, flat, and private. One row of camp spots skirts a small and lovely pond that has a swimming area.
It was early July, and there were no bugs. Extraordinary, though Muddy Boots can’t vouch for June.
This campground will cost you $27 per site (as of 2017) if you’re from out of state. That may sound like a lot for a Senior Pass holder (in the scheme of things), but we’re talking suburban Boston and great features.
Restrooms are new. Check them out:
- There were no recreational vehicles in evidence at this campground. AT ALL. There’s probably some crucial reason for this.
- Make a reservation if you plan to stay over a weekend. You’ll have to pay a reservation fee for this privilege.
- Per the gate ranger, if you drop in to camp during the week, you’ll likely luck out and get a spot. This will save you the $7-$8 reservation fee, but take your chances.
- Roots snake along campsite floors. Use luminescent paracord to mark them and avoid tripping at night.
Close to the interstate
All of these locations have EZ access to interstates: Salem, Lowell, Saugus, Minute Man, and Harold Parker State Forest.
If you want to camp suburban Boston, Harold Parker State Forest is the cat’s pajamas.
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