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Michaella Sheridan | 11.10.2017

If you want to get to know New England, get to know its state parks. These recreation spaces serve to protect and preserve the region's most iconic natural features and resources, and they're yours to explore! Hike, bike, swim, and paddle through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island by adding these state parks to your New England bucket list. We've listed 15 of our favorites here, but check out the Featured Adventures below for more great ideas!

1. Quechee State Park, VT

Quechee Gorge is Vermont's deepest glacial gorge, and it is a natural wonder of New England. Admire the 165-foot deep gorge from this state park's visitor center and follow several miles of hiking trails along the gorge's rim. Or you can make a weekend out of it by staying at the seasonal campground. 

2. Big Falls State Park, VT

At 35-feet tall, Big Falls is an impressive sight and a refreshing hot-day stop that's super easy to get to. Only a short walk from the parking area, admire the rushing falls from a jutting cliff or cool off with a swim in the pool below. 

3. Green River Reservoir State Park, VT

Immerse yourself in a wild New England experience at this pristine state park. Paddle or swim in the huge reservoir, and keep an eye out for bald eagles, beavers, and muskrats. Set out on an early morning hike on the 19 miles of shoreline for a chance to see a moose. 

4. Emerald Lake State Park, VT

This aptly named state park is an amazing summer destination, especially for families. Spend a day swimming in the beautiful turquoise water and hiking the surrounding trails, then pitch a tent at one of the 100 campsites to spend a night under the stars.  

5. Woodford State Park, VT

Looking for a way to enjoy New England nature without the crowds? The 2.4 miles of trails around this state park's small lake are seldom crowded and offer a great chance to spot some wildlife. 

6. Wilgus State Park, VT

Though small, this state park offers incredible access to the Connecticut River for paddlers and anglers. Not far from Wilgus is the world longest two-span covered bridge to carry automobile traffic, a New England man-made wonder that's best seen by paddling or fishing beneath it. 

7. Pawtuckaway State Park, NH

The perfect place to spend a day, weekend, or vacation with the family. Abundant in wildlife and diverse in ecosystems, the park offers a range of scenery and recreational opportunities. In addition to Pawtuckaway Lake, there are countless smaller lakes, ponds, and marshland to explore, with trails that lead visitors through the forest and up the mountains. 

8. Cardigan Mountain State Park, NH

For some straight up fun hiking, head to Cardigan Mountain, where you'll scramble up a couple miles of rocky trails with an exciting granite scramble toward the summit. This is a great hike for families, so it can get a bit crowded on a nice weekend. 

9. Odiorne Point State Park + Seacoast Science Center, NH

For a seaside escape, hike, bike, paddle, or fish this coastal park. With historic military structures, miles of trails, and an interactive science center, this state park gives you the chance to get to know coastal New England's past, present, and future. 

10. Owl's Head State Park + Lighthouse, ME

Just south of Rockland, Maine, a rocky, wooded peninsula protrudes into the Penobscot Bay. The tip of this peninsula is home to the Owls Head State Park and Lighthouse. This small state park captures the north and south shores of the Owls Head Peninsula and offers access to the Owls Head Lighthouse.

11. Moose Point State Park, ME

Located just off the scenic U.S. Route 1 along the Maine coastline, Moose Point State Park offers a peaceful place to have a picnic, walk trails, and take in panoramic views of Penobscot Bay.

12. Natural Bridge State Park, MA

Home to the only natural white marble arch in North America, this small park is one for the New England bucket list.  Close to the Berkshire Mountains and right down the street from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, this is the perfect place for a picnic and a quick hike during a western Mass adventure. 

13. Burlingame State Park, RI

Glampers will love all of the amenities that this family-friendly park offers: showers, bathrooms, a camp store...you name it, Burlingame has it. Spend a weekend lounging on the pond beaches, exploring the bike paths, and venturing out into the neighboring wildlife sanctuary. 

14. Gillette Castle State Park, CT

With a medieval-style castle that peers down on the Connecticut River Valley, it's no huge wonder why this park made it to the must-visit list. Explore the grounds around the castle on manicured walkways that snake through covered bridges and tunnels. 

15. Chatfield Hollow State Park, CT

Nothing completes a picturesque New England hike like a covered bridge spanning over a lazy river. You'll find exactly that and more on the 23 miles of classic Connecticut trails at this state park. 

Keep scrolling to find even more must-visit state parks in New England...

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