Explore the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge



6.5 miles

Route Type


Added by Shannon Kalahan

This incredible park, approximately an hour north of Boston, has everything you could want in an active outdoor day trip destination - it's scenic, has an abundance of wildlife, and plenty of acreage to explore!

Located just north of Boston, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to provide feeding, resting, and nesting habitat for migratory birds. The refuge lands are both scenic and diverse, with approximately 4700 acres of habitats including sandy beach and dune, cranberry bog, maritime forest and shrub land, and both salt water and freshwater marsh.

Although the primary function of the refuge is wildlife conservation, we were happy to discover that there are plenty of activities allowed within the bounds of the park. Visitors can bike or run the main 6.5 mile road down the length of the refuge, climb the observation towers to get a view of the entire park, hike the extensive boardwalk trails throughout the protected dunes, and observe / photograph wildlife. There also some seasonal opportunities for ocean swimming (no lifeguard on duty!), surf fishing, waterfowl and deer hunting.

On our trips to Parker River, we have explored both the beach and dune hikes portions of the refuge and spent a little time hanging out near the marshes, which are absolutely beautiful.

The biggest drawbacks to this stunning location is that there are no dogs allowed, and that due to conservation efforts, parts of the park are closed to the public during critical times during various species life cycles. Furthermore, official park hours close at sunset unless you have a fishing permit. It is always in your best interest to check their website before you go, to check for current restrictions.

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Hidden gem

Perfect spot for some fresh air and to take some photos. Come prepared in winter season- it is cooooooold!

One of my all-time favorite local places

Hands down one of the most beautiful places in New England to enjoy the ocean. You can also use a National Park pass to get free entry here.

Great For Bird Watching

Really pretty area great For Bird watching, with nice views of dunes and ocean and some nice beaches.

The North Shores Best

One of the most beautiful spots in the North shore hands down. Drive down to the 6th parking lot and adventure around anytime of the year for a good photo op!

great spot very scenic TONS to do

I live nearby and spend a lot o time here. tons to do and it has some of the best and least known surfing north of the cape. Chances are you'll have the waves to yourself. only reason it doesn't get the five stars is the above mentioned amount of rules. I understand the reasoning behind them but the fact is there are seasonal restrictions to where you can go. that being said there is more than enough things to do/ places to go that it is never going to stop me from going. Overall awesome spot insider tip: go for the sunset it is stunning

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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