Mt. Wachusett State Reservation – Princeton, MA

Last Visited:  April 21, 2012

What to do here:  Wachusett Mountain is a lovely state reservation that is about an hour from Boston with quite a few great things to do:

  • Downhill Skiing:  Wachusett Mountain is probably best known for this with all of the famous ads touting its ‘mountain skiing, minutes away!’  They have a vertical drop of about 1,000’ with 3 high-speed quad lifts serving 3 major pods, or groups, of trails.  They also have 100% of their terrain lighted and night skiing is a lot of fun.  However, on a weekend it can be incredibly crowded on a Saturday.  For conditions and more information please go to the ski areas website:  http://www.wachusett.com/
  • Cross Country Skiing:  Several of the trails at the reservation are great places to cross country ski if there is enough snow on the ground.
  • Snow tubing:  Snow tubing is offered at the ski area during the winter on special occasions only.
  • Hiking:  This reservation is criss-crossed with lots of great trails that go up and around Mt. Wachusett, which is the tallest mountain on the Eastern seaboard.  Some notable things to see when you’re hiking around the park include:
    • Wachusett Mountain Summit:  The view from the top of Wachusett is spectacular and on a clear day you can see all the way to Boston, Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire and much of Central and Eastern Mass.
    • View from the summit of Wachusett Mountain Ski Area

      Wachusett Mountain Ski Area Summit

    • Balance Rock:  This rock formation is easily accessed with only a short walk from the ski area parking lot.
    • Harlow Overlook:  This overlook is on the road to the summit and is a great view partway up the mountain.
    • View from the Harlow Overlook at Wachusett Mountain

      Fall foliage view from the Harlow Overlook at Wachusett Mountain.

    • Windmill Farm: Get up close and personal with some active wind turbines.
    • Other things to see:  Machias Pool, Siplas Pool and many great scenic vistas.
    • Mid-State Trail: A portion of this 92 mile trail that goes from New Hampshire to Rhode Island and goes through this reservation.  This trail is marked by Yellow Triangle blazes.
    • Fall Foliage Viewing:  The fall foliage can be lovely from the top of the Mountain and the ski area operators will occasionally offer scenic liftrides up the mountain.  Bring a picnic and enjoy the fall colors and view with a nice outdoor repast.
    • Auto Road:  There is an auto road up Mt. Wachusett.
    • Bicycling:  Many of the trails at this reservation are bike friendly and the auto road is also a great route to bike up the mountain, especially before the auto road opens for the season in late spring.
    • Special Events & Concerts:  The ski area puts on many events year round and has lots of concerts, festivals and other events that make great day trips.  Please go to their website for more information.  http://www.wachusett.com/

Favorite Activities:  I go to Wachusett to hike in the summer and occasionally enjoy skiing there on a weeknight in the winter.  The hiking is fantastic and the skiing is decent for being so close to Boston, however because of that proximity the ski area can get very, very crowded.  Because of that I’d recommend skiing there on a weeknight and avoiding weekends because there are significant liftlines and the trails are quite crowded.  However, since they are open at night that can be a great way to get some exercise outdoors after work without liftlines and crowded trails that can make skiing frustrating.

How to get there:  The entrance to both the ski area and the park are off State Route 140 in Princeton, MA.  Take the exit for Route 140 off Route 2 just west of Fitchburg, MA.  Route 2 has connections to most major highways in the state.  When you’re on Route 140 look for the entrance to the ski area (Mountain Road) and you can either park at the ski area or keep going a little further up mountain road in the summer to the park headquarters.  If you’re using a GPS device or GPS enabled smartphone one of the two following addresses will get you to the park:

Park Visitor Center:
345 Mountain Rd.
Princeton MA 01541
(978) 464-2987

Ski Area Base Lodge:
499 Mountain Road
Princeton, MA 01541
(978) 464-2300

Facilities, Fees and other information:  Parking is free at the ski area parking lot and park headquarters.  There are facilities at the ski lodge (seasonal and event dependent) and the park headquarters on Mountain Road.   There are two websites that are useful if you want visit here; the ski area website (http://www.wachusett.com/) and the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation website for Wachusett Mountain State Reservation (http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/wach.htm), which has a PDF copy of their trail map and more detailed directions.