The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is a national recreation area located in the Boston Harbor Islands of Boston, Massachusetts. The state park comprises three areas on Boston Harbor islands and adjacent mainland that are managed cooperatively by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It is made up of a collection of rocky islands (including Little Brewster Island), former military installations (such as Fort Warren on Moon Island), and other sites including Hull Prison, the Old Colony House, and the Civil War-era Coast Guard station at Long Island Sound’s “Westerly Point.”
A free shuttle service runs between the various harbor island parks and the MBTA Green Line terminus at Hingham Shipyard. There is also a bike path leading out onto Spectacle Island via a bridge across part of the East Boston floating dock. The park has several small boat launches for non-motorized watercraft only. No swimming or boating is allowed due to dangerous conditions from shallow waters, strong currents, and large waves. Boats may be rowed around the harbor islands but not through them. Rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats are common sights near many of the docks.
The park includes two golf courses, one nine-hole course and the other 18 holes. Golf carts are provided as mobility aid for those with physical challenges. The nine-hole course is par 36, 7,008 yards long, with a pro shop and driving range. The eighteen hole course is par 74, 6,864 yards long, with a driving range and putting green. Both offer snack bar, club house, and rental car facilities. Seasonal hunting is permitted in some parts of the park. Deer and wild turkey may be taken with rifles during designated hunting seasons. Snowmobiling is permitted anywhere except on roads and trails. Cross-country skiing is permitted only on certain marked ski routes. The park offers a beach on its islands and shoreline, accessible via a pedestrian tunnel underneath the Bay Circuit Trail.
In 1996, Congress authorized designating this area as the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area with federal funding for development beginning in 1998. In 1997, the state began purchasing land to establish the state park. On October 3, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law an extension of the National Park Service’s designation of the area as a National Recreation Area, which had been set to expire in 2007. Development continues apace under the direction of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. As of 2014, over 2 million people visit the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area each year.
Activities available include:
- cross-country skiing
- seasonal hunting