September 22, 2021

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Just Do Travel

TikTok is my tour guide

5 min read

I’ll admit it; I originally downloaded TikTok for the animal videos and dance challenges like everyone else. I think the algorithm caught on pretty quickly that I’m from New England and, in turn, started pushing local travel videos onto my For You page. When summer hit and the weather practically begged me to get out of the house and go exploring, I started seeing more and more New England outdoor destinations. Here’s a list of some lesser-known natural romps in Massachusetts, all thanks to TikTok.

Breakwater Causeway, Provincetown

Ever wanted to walk on water? You can come pretty close while hiking the Provincetown breakwater causeway, a stretch of jetty spanning a bit more than a mile. Accessible via First Landing Park in downtown Provincetown, the causeway connects to a small, secluded beach near the Wood End Lighthouse. Explore a bit more to find the abandoned town of Long Point with two working lighthouses still intact. Make sure to check the tides prior to your visit — high tide can make the rocks slippery or submerge them fully in water.

Scott Tower, Holyoke

Just beyond Interstate 91 is Anniversary Hill Park, but you wouldn’t know it at first glance unless you caught a glimpse of Scott Tower through the trees. Construction on the park started in the 1940s as a place for Holyoke residents to gather recreationally and proved wildly popular, attracting out-of-state visitors as well as locals. When construction on I-91 began in the 60s, the drivable bridge providing access to the park closed, and visitation all but ceased. Now, visitors to the site must park at Community Field Park and trek through the woods to find the tower, once used as an observation deck overlooking the city. A mile-long walking trail circles the graffiti-covered structure and the lower levels of the tower are accessible by foot. The grounds are not well-lit, so check it out while the sun is still up.

Ashley Reservoir Trail, Holyoke

Suitable for all skill levels, a just-over 3.5-mile hiking trail encircles the Ashley Reservoir. The reservoir, comprising Ashley Pond and Wright Pond, is used as a backup water supply for the city of Holyoke. This is no small watering hole — the volume capacity of this dam is more than 700 million gallons of water. The trails are clearly marked and not too steep. Plus, every path offers some beautiful views of the water and the wildlife that surrounds it. Beware of hiking after heavy rain in the area — as shown in this TikTok, some of the paths flood when the water level is higher than usual.

Lookout Rock, Northbridge

Take in some graffiti art while looking out on the surrounding towns and natural landmarks, including Blackstone River and Goat Hill. This flat, rocky ledge is accessible via foot trails leading from Quaker Street. Walk a bit further into the wilderness to find River Bend Farm State Park, a reservation area that offers outdoor concerts. While this TikTok proves the views are stunning in the summer weather, other attendees rave about the fall foliage seen from such high points. Lookout Rock is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Becket Quarry, Becket

Feeling a bit daring? Becket Quarry has been designated as a must-visit cliff overlook, at least by this TikToker. The Becket Land Trust quarry and Forest spans more than 300 acres and features walking trails, more advanced hikes through the forest, and, of course, the infamous quarry. The granite quarry operated from the 1850s to the 1960s, extracting stone for early railroad construction. Though out of service for nearly 60 years, the quarry remains one of the most intact in the state, boasting a blacksmith shop and standing derrick. During peak season, the park charges a fee of $10 per car to visit. Additionally, diving, campfires, and alcohol consumption are prohibited on the grounds.

Natural Bridge State Park, North Adams

While a bit more well-traveled than some of the other spots on this list, there’s much to discover at Natural Bridge State Park. Once a white marble quarry, the 48-acre park now hosts the only remaining white marble dam in North America. Trails along the quarry span the park and natural chasms made of stone are accessible to walk on, under, and through. Take a tour of the former quarry or a hike up a walkway to observe the vastness of the park. Make sure not to miss the natural flowing streams of water that decorate the land, either. For a highly authentic experience, bring along a copy of “An American Notebook” in which noted romantic writer Nathaniel Hawthorne detailed his time spent at Hudson Falls onsite.

Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, North Andover

Before summer ends, stop by the Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens to take in acres of brightly colored blooms. The historic house was built in the late 1700s and originally functioned as a summer home for diplomat John Gardner Coolidge, nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner. On par with 20th-century norms, the property was designed to bring the inside outside and vice versa, as evidenced by the lush grounds that surround the house. The horticulture on the property is the real draw this time of year — spanning 91 acres total, the landscape comprises fountains, flower beds, and greenhouses overflowing with plants. Advance registration is recommended prior to visiting. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children, and can be purchased at thetrustees.org.

Campbell Falls, New Marlborough

This system of waterfalls begins with the Whiting River in Massachusetts and drops more than 100 feet, culminating in a pool of water located in Connecticut. On the path up to the falls, a trail marker denotes exactly where hikers cross the Massachusetts/Connecticut border. The park was designated as a state reservation in 1923 and put under the care of both states it inhabits. Hiking trails and stream-fishing spots also occupy the land and leashed pets are welcome to join in the excursion. The park is free to visit and is open 8 a.m. to sunset daily.

Mount Holyoke Summit, Hadley

Catch a bird’s-eye view of Western Massachusetts at this lesser-traveled peak of the infamous Mount Holyoke. The trail to the summit, located in Skinner State Park, is roughly 2-miles out and back. Atop the mountain sits a house, aptly named the Summit House, where visitors can take in the breathtaking, sky-high views. As this TikToker did, go in the fall to see some colorful autumn foliage. Leashed pets are permitted on the premises, and make sure to bring comfortable shoes — the elevation on this trail is nearly 650 feet.

Grace Griffin can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GraceMGriffin.