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Blue graffiti wall Georgetown-Rowley State Forest

Georgetown-Rowley State Forest Hiking Spotlight

Are you looking for a great hike on the North Shore to do with your dog that isn’t over crowded? This week I am spotlighting the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest that covers a vast area with a variety of trails.

Georgetown Rowley State Forest
Charlotte enjoying the trail


Georgetown-Rowley State Forest consists of just over 1000 acres. It’s a great spot for hiking with your dog, amongst other activities. It primarily covers Georgetown and Rowley, but does sprinkle a bit into Boxford, too. There is a 7.7 miles loop, but unfortunately at the time that I am writing this post, some of it is inaccessible due to recent brush fires.

Family posing for photo Georgetown Rowley State Forest
Jethro posing with mom and dad


There is a small lot at the top of Pingree Farm Rd. off of Rt. 97. If that lot is full, you can park alongside the road – just beware of the fire hydrant! Also, the house right near the trail entrance has 3 dogs that will probably yell at you upon arrival. Yes, the do have an electric fence and as far as I know, have not escaped it.

Secret parking: If you take Rt. 133 and go past Muddy Creek Veterinary on your left and Chrislar Farm on the rt, take the road on the right and follows it. There is a little area where the trail begins that can fit 3 cars or so on the right side.


The trails are open from sunrise to sunset. I have always found it quieter in the early morning. There are no gates to be locked to worry about.


  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking – Trails
  • Horseback Riding – beware of horse poop. It will be in the middle of the trail, so won’t miss it! But just a heads up in case your dog is intrigued by it.
  • Hunting – be sure to check seasonal hunting regulations and wear bright orange
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Walking – apparently there are some spots that don’t have a “leash law”. I have always kept pups on leash for safety, but I was rudely told by a woman one day that she could have her dog off leash. That’s fine, but one better be able to have a perfect recall with their dog!

This is probably the biggest mountain biking area that I have come across. When I arrived last week for a photo session (it’s always so quiet!), there were about 20 cars packed in. We only came across 1 dog but MANY mountain bikers. They were all super friendly!

I have seen so many groups of men mountain biking over the years, I was thrilled to see this group of women laughing and having the best ride!

Mountain Biking at Georgetown Rowley State Forest
Group of women mountain bikers


As you can see from the list of activities, this is a great hike any season of the year! It does get a bit buggy in warmer temps, and after some rain, the main path may get super muddy, so make sure you wear a waterproof hiker.

Ticks… they are HORRIBLE this year! I’m a big fan of “natural” and my go-to is Buck Mountain parasite dust from the Pet Health and Nutrition Center. It’s a powder and it’s safe for dogs and cats. If you haven’t heard of them, be sure to check out the link! Great company with great products!

These 2 images were taken just 4 weeks apart. Both Charlotte and Jethro are part of the book project Tails of the World 2. Charlotte’s session was in April and Jethro’s was just last week, in May. Wow! What a difference in colors! The greens are finally popping.


I love the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest for my dog photo sessions. I can also see it being a great spot for senior sessions, along with those seniors WITH their dogs!

  1. Trails – The vast trails allow for a variety of wooded backdrops. Make sure you hit the trails during golden hour for that stunning light! You will also come across little ponds and swamps that work well for photos!
Wooded area of Georgetown-Rowley Forest
Little pond off the trail

I found this site that links to all the trails – there are 65! Years ago when I was walking my previous dog, Kota, here, we got extremely lost as the sun was setting. Bring your phone and All Trails is a great app. There are also maps at the parking lot.

If you would like to print out a map before you go, just to make sure, you can find one on the site.

2. Graffiti – I love some graffiti! I love it even more if I don’t have to head into the city to find it! If you park at either entrance that I mentioned, it’s a 12 minute walk from either side to the graffiti overpass of Interstate 95. It looks a bit scary…. but it’s fun working with all the color! Just make sure you check your depth of field while photographing… there are all kinds of swear words!

I highly recommend Georgetown-Rowley State Forest throughout the year! I’m fortunate it’s just a 10 minute drive from my house. I recently took my own dog, Halo, on a hike there. I would love to do some pictures of here in front of the graffiti. We might have to wait until fall as she does NOT love the heat!

Around the Circle

This post is part of a pet photographer’s blog circle. You can click on the link at the end of each post and follow along. This week is all about “locations” and next up Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography digs into why Spokane is the ideal dog-friendly vacation destination. I’m looking forward to Angela’s post. I sure wish she lived closer to me as Halo and I would love to head out her way for a portrait session. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Georgetown-Rowley State Forest Hiking Spotlight”

  1. Seems like a great place to take a hike with your dog! Glad you gave a good description about the park and where parking is available & what to look out for. The colors of Graffiti always make a good background!!

  2. I know it’s not desirable, but graffiti does make for super colorful portraits along with the beautiful natural scenery, it’s a nice way to mix up a session (and hubba hubba Jethro!).

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