America’s East Coast is treasured for its forested mountains and natural treasures. In Massachusetts, itself, there is over 3 million acres of forest which covers approximately 60% of the state. is Here are 12 of the best forests in Massachusetts that you can visit all year round, and even stay overnight if you want to go camping in Massachusetts state forests. Find out which is the haunted forest in Massachusetts, and which MA state forests have the best hiking for your skill level.
State Forests in Massachusetts
As shown by the Massachusetts state map below, many of the Massachusetts forests are located in the Berkshires. Located in Western Massachusetts, visiting the Berkshires is a bucket list item for any Massachusetts trip. A large proportion of the states 1.6 billion living trees are located in the Western half of Massachusetts. Hiking these forest-clad mountains is a real treat for many people to reconnect with nature (as shown by all the inspiring mountain quotes there are in the world).
There are, however, other forests dotted throughout the state including along the Otter River State Forest bordering New Hampshire, the Myles Standish State Forest near Plymouth where you can imagine what the country would have looked like to the Pilgrims landing nearby, and the Martha’s Vineyard state forest in the southeast corner of the state.
Leominster State Forest
One of the best state forests in Massachusetts for adventure lovers. Leominster State Forest is conveniently located for Boston day trippers.
Hikers will love the Leominster State forest trails of which there are plenty of different options. For example, the Marcus Fizzwick Loop is an easy 2.5 mile trail that you can do for family hiking. Similarly short but more challenging is the Crow Hill Ledges hike. The Midstate trail which runs for 92 miles between Rhode Island and New Hampshire runs through the Leominster State Forest.
Other than hiking, mountain biking, and swimming are the main attractions here in the summer months. Crow Hill Ledges is known for rock climbing and swimming is only allowed at Crow Hill Pond. You can go fishing in Crow Hill Pond and Paradise Pond.
In the winter, enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Leominster State Forest.
Myles Standish State Forest Massachusetts
Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth is one of the most splendid forests in Massachusetts to visit with your family. It is conveniently located near Pilgrim Memorial State Park and Plimoth Plantation.
College Pond has crystal clear water where you can fish, kayak, and swim to your heart’s content.
Massachusetts state forest camping and RV parking are found next to four beautiful ponds. There’s even an area set aside for people camping with their horses and 35 miles of horse trails.
The lush pine forest also has more than 13-miles of hiking trails winding through the trees.
Mohawk Trail State Forest
The Mohawk State Forest offers spectacular day-long hikes, and with more than 6,000 acres of forest, there is something for everyone.
The Mohawk Trail State Forest hiking runs from a couple to a few miles but are moderately strenuous. Between the dense forests and tremendous rock gorges, there is no shortage of natural splendors around.
The Whirley Baths is a favorite point of interest as this swimming hole has a natural Jacuzzi effect. It’s super easy to get to because it is located near the main entrance. The Deerfield River provides another opportunity to cool off in the water.
The Mohawk Trail State Forest Campground are reservations only (but Mohawk Trail State Forest camping is currently closed because of Covid). There are two sizes for the Mohawk Trail State Forest cabins.
As noted elsewhere in this article, prices for Mohawk Trail State Forest camping is significantly cheaper and determined by your car’s license plate.
Beartown State Forest Massachusetts
As the name suggests, this is one of the MA state forests that is home to the Black Bear. Visitors can also look forward to spotting other mammals such as the bobcat and deer.
The Beartown State Forest spans over 12,000 acres and the central focus, Benedict Pond, offers a walking loop of 1.5 miles that is marvelous year-round.
In the winter, Beartown State Forest Massachusetts is open for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Mount Washington State Forest
Massachusetts state forests in the south-eastern corner of the state are loved for their challenging terrain and rocky landscapes.
The Mount Washington State forest is elevated high on the mountain ridge and makes the nearly 30-miles of hiking especially thrilling. There is on easy hiking trail, the Round Mountain Trail which is only about a mile long. All of the other hiking trails though, are for more experienced hikers because they range from moderate to hard. On the other hand, you will have unparalleled views over the sweeping landscape below you.
Although Mount Washington State Forest camping allows wild camping, currently wilderness camping is not allowed.
Freetown Fall River State Forest
Freetown Fall River State Forest is both a public access area as well as home to a Wampanoag Native American reservation.
Freetown Fall River State Forest is also supposed to be a haunted forest in Massachusetts. Part of the Bridgewater triangle of paranormal activity in haunted Massachusetts, there have been reputed sightings of thunderbirds (giant birds) and proven cult rituals. And, of course, the Wampanoag have also cursed the land.
More than 50 miles of wilderness trails and roads wind through this south-western forest and make it ideal for horseback riders, mountain bikers, and dog sledders. Most of the Freetown State Forest hiking is easy and some verge onto the moderate. For example, families will like hiking the Freetown Fall River State Forest Loop which is only a mile long and easy to do.
The winding Rattlesnake Brook is stocked with brook trout in the spring, and anglers can enjoy seasonal fishing here.
The day-visitors’ area at the entrance of the park is perfect for picnics, and the wading pool is also a favorite with families.
DAR State Forest
In the northwest is a Mass state forest that is most loved for its highland lakes with a pristine swimming beach, large campground, and picnic areas.
The DAR State Forest is one of the best options for camping in Massachusetts state forests because there are 50 campsites all within easy reach of the lake. The DAR State Forest campground is on the shores of Upper Highland Lake with multi-use trails leading off for hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding.
Its proximity to the Berkshires ensures that hikers are spoiled with excellent views and visitors can climb the Goshen Fire Tower to see the sprawling Connecticut River Valley. There are several easy to moderate trails at the DAR state forest.
In the winter, the DAR State Forest is open for snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
Martha’s Vineyard is home to the 5300 acre Manuel Correlus State Forest. Set in the middle of the island, Manuel Correllus State Forest has 14 miles of paved-mix use roads and wilderness trails enjoyed by hikers and bikers. The paved, flat trail is one of the fun things to do on Martha’s Vineyard for children on scooters or small bikes to race.
There’s even a monument to the now-extinct Heath Hen (a type of grouse that was last spotted on the island in 1932). This MA state forest is a fun break for when you are tired of beaches of Martha’s Vineyard or the weather isn’t cooperating during your visit to Martha’s Vineyard.
October Mountain State Forest
As the largest state forest in Massachusetts, October Mountain State Forest spans over more than 16,000 acres of forest and mountain terrain. It is located near the charming town of Lenox MA in the Berkshires.
October Mountain State Forest camping extends to 44 campsites for tent and RV camping. Glamping options are three yurts like at Otter River State Forest MA. Note there are no electricity hook-ups at the October Mountain State Forest campground.
The National Park Appalachian Trail makes its way through this forest, but less experienced hikers will also find plenty of hiking opportunities to suit their fitness level. October Mountain State Forest hiking trails range from easy to moderate.
As noted elsewhere, parking and camping fees at October Mountain State Forest are significantly cheaper if you are a Massachusetts state resident which is determined by your vehicle license plate registration.
Pittsfield State Forest
Pittsfield State Forest is another large forest and clocking in around 11000 acres. a picture-perfect forest setting complete with babbling brooks, cascading waterfalls, and bursts of vibrant wildflowers.
With over 30 miles of trails, Pittsfield State Forest hiking trails are plentiful and offer a wide variety of terrain from easy to difficult. The Shaker Mountain trail, for example, has both an easy and a moderate option. The Taconic Crest Trail is 35 miles and runs along the Taconic Mountains separating New York from Massachusetts.
Pittsfield State Forest camping offers 60 campsites spread over a couple of different Pittsfield State Forest Campground sites. The Berry Pond campground offers rustic camping (ie., composting toilets) but you are on top of Berry Mountain. The other Pittsfield State Forest campground, Parker Brook Campground, has a wider range of facilities.
Remember for all Pittsfield State Forest campgrounds, you are in black bear country!!
The summit of Berry Mountain, close to the New York State border, is great for panoramic sunset views (and it is accessible by car if you don’t want to hike to the top).
Otter River State Forest
A stone’s throw from the New-Hampshire border is Otter River State Forest that comes complete with 85 rustic campsites, a swimming beach, a picnic area, and a ball field.
Otter River State Forest MA has lots of opportunities for Massachusetts state forest camping with 76 campsites. This Massachusetts forest also offers glamping in the form of four yurts. Walk-ins are OK but it’s encouraged that you make reservations.
Beamon Pond is the central attraction and often freezes over in wintertime, but trout fishing is abundant in the warmer months.
Savoy Mountain State Forest
The Savoy Mountain State Forest is located in the Hoosac Mountain range which is just a continuation of the New England travel bucket list item that are the Green Mountains of Vermont.
The Savoy Mountain State Forest MA is one of the most beautiful state forests in Massachusetts for hiking. Moreover, the two ponds on the edge of the forest are perfect for fishing and swimming.
With more than 50 miles of hiking trails, there is also a myriad of hiking opportunities winding through the forest. Bog Pond and Tannery Falls are two of the most visited natural features in the area but there is no shortage of other wonderful attributes to explore.
Tannery Falls is so popular that it has a short hiking trail option that takes you straight to the waterfall as well as a longer option that takes you through more fo the Savoy Mountain State Forest. The Busby Trail which is moderately hard and runs for about 4 miles is particularly popular in the Fall with leaf peepers.
The Savoy Mountain State Forest campground is set in a former apple orchard. There are 45 campsites for Savoy Mountain State Forest camping and 4 Savoy Mountain State Forest cabins.
As noted elsewhere:
- be aware that there are black bears around; and
- parking and camping fees at Savoy Mountain State Forest are significantly cheaper if you are a Massachusetts state resident which is determined by your vehicle license plate registration.
Massachusetts State Forest Map
Here’s a map of the 12 state forests in Massachusetts mentioned above. Mass state forests tend to be congregated in Western Massachusetts in the Berkshires.
The two central Massachusetts forests we picked are Otter River State Forest on the border near New Hampshire and Leominster State Forest near Worcester.
On the southeastern section of the state, there’s Myles Standish State Forest handily near Plymouth and Plimoth Plantation, as well as Freetown-Fall River State Forest bordering Rhode Island. As you can imagine, the Cape and the Islands geography does not generally lend itself to forests but there is a Martha’s Vineyard state forest if you want to escape from the beach for a bit.
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