Callahan State Park is a perfect park for hikers, dog lovers, kite flyers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and sledders. There are several large fields and ponds and nearly eight miles of wooded trails within Callahan's 820 acres. Callahan is a favorite spot for dog owners, and dogs are usually off-leash here, so if you are afraid of dogs, be aware that you might encounter a canine adventurer who is looking to make new friends.
Must see/do at Callahan State Park
If there's snow on the ground, grab your snowshoes or cross-country skis and explore this winter wonderland. Park by the South Entrance on Millwood Street and sled down the Earthen Dam into the field with a relatively easy hike back up Moore Road. On a windy day, stand along the Earthen Dam trail for ideal kite-flying. In any weather, continue into the park via Moore Road to an especially picturesque spot with a second open field, Eagle Pond on the right, and the woods further ahead. There is also a picnic table here, so it's a great spot to have a snack or lunch. Be sure to go into the woods and explore the many hiking trails.
Best and worst time to go to Callahan State Park
If possible, avoid going to Callahan for several days after wet weather. Even if the sun is shining, the trails remain quite muddy and take days to dry out. This also applies to the spring thaw: the shaded woods can be very messy, so plan footwear accordingly and bring towels to dry off muddy dogs. Especially in or after wetter conditions, there will be a lot of mosquitos in the woods, so bug spray is a must.
Admission to Callahan State Park
Admission and parking in any of the three lots are free.
Wildlife at Callahan State Park
Callahan is a great spot to find endangered pink Lady Slipper orchids. Listen for chicadees and woodpeckers. Visitors have also sighted garter and water snakes; snapping, red bellied, and spotted turtles; coyotes; fisher cats; white-tailed deer; red foxes; herons; egrets; red tail hawks; largemouth bass in the ponds; and many other species of indigenous New England wildlife.
Insider tip for visitors to Callahan State Park
Always check for ticks, even if you stay on the main paths. Definitely check your dogs for ticks, too. Both deer and dog ticks are abundant at Callahan, and deer ticks can carry Lyme Disease. While dogs are required to be on leash on the main trails (as opposed to on the smaller trails labeled as "hiking trails"), most dogs are not leashed anywhere in Callahan with the possible exception of the first field by the South Entrance or in the parking lots. Also, always keep an eye out for horse manure on the trails; horses and their riders tend to frequent the park early in the day, but poop is an all-day thing.
Author's bio: Deborah Jarvis is a freelance writer who grew up and currently lives in the Greater Boston Area. She never pahks her cah in Hahvahd Yahd and tries not to drive like she's from Boston if she can help it. Her dogs love to go to Callahan and are lifetime members of Mud-seekers Anonymous.