With spring temperatures on the way, many of us are turning to the outdoors for weekend family fun. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find an outdoor activity that is not only affordable, but also piques the interest of your whole family. It can really be a challenge for families with a wide range of ages and interests.
This weekend, you need look no further for a variety of outdoor entertainment than Great Brook Farm State Park, located at 165 North Road in Carlisle, MA.
Keep in mind that Great Brook Farm State Park is not a scenic trail-lined park. Yes, it’s true that the park has over 20 miles of hiking trails, offering hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. But this historic park is also the only state park in Massachusetts that has a working dairy farm on site.
The 1000 acres of land that is now known as Great Brook Farm was purchased by the State of Massachusetts in 1967. The Commonwealth saw the value in bringing this abandoned dairy farm back to life as a public experiment and educational to show how a real dairy farm works.
Because the Commonwealth was not interested in becoming a dairy farmer, the state put out a public announcement looking for someone to lease and manage the dairy farm. The call was answered by Mark Duffy, his wife Tamma and their three children.
The Duffy family continues to successfully run the dairy farm today, in fact becoming the first dairy farm in Massachusetts to install milking robots. The installation of milkers has allowed the Duffy family to spend more time caring for the cows as well as promoting their work in the community.
Dairy farm tours are offered free to the public as part of the state park experience. Tours offer insight into the day-to-day operations of a dairy farm, a close-up view of cows, and the occasional witness to the birth of a calf. There is also plenty of dairy education and fun facts offered during the tours.
After your introduction to the over 130 cows that reside on the farm, stop and visit the on-site petting zoo where you’ll be greeted by friendly goats, sheep, chickens and ducks.
In addition to the farm, the Duffy family also operates an ice cream stand open from April to October, offering 60 flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sherbet.
Along with the hiking trails and the dairy farm, this state park also has historical nuances. On the grounds, one can see several notable Native American sites and 17th-century cellar holes left by English settlers.
During the winter months, visit the Great Brook Ski Touring Center located on park grounds. Open from December to March, the ski resort offers groomed cross-country ski trails and ski and snowshoe rentals.
The summer months offer the addition of water activities such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
Great Brook Farm State Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Dairy farm tours are offered all day on weekends and by appointment on weekdays.
Admission is free, but there is a $3.00 parking fee.
The next time you need a weekend activity your whole family will enjoy, take a trip to nearby Great Brook Farm State Park.
Offering hiking, biking, water sports, animals, education, and history (and don’t forget the ice cream), this Massachusetts state park truly has something for everyone.
For more information on activities and events at Great Brook Farm State Park, visit www.mass.gov/locations/great-brook-farm-state-park.