GREAT BARRINGTON STATE FOREST
GREAT BARRINGTON STATE FOREST
The Great Barrington State Forest in Massachusetts is a picturesque natural haven nestled in the Berkshire Hills. Stretching over 24,000 acres, this forest offers awe-inspiring beauty with its dense woodlands, rolling hills, and sparkling streams. Visitors can explore countless miles of trails that wind through the forest, providing opportunities for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. The lush greenery and tranquil atmosphere of the Great Barrington State Forest make it a perfect escape into nature, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the serene ambiance and discover the diverse wildlife and plant species that call this forest home.
Great Barrington State Forest, located in the town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has a rich history that dates back to the early settlement period of New England.
The forests in the area initially served as hunting grounds and resources for the indigenous Mahican Native American tribe who inhabited the region for thousands of years. European settlers began to arrive in the 18th century, including the first permanent settler, Colonel John Ashley, who established the town of Great Barrington in 1766.
By the mid-19th century, the rapid industrialization in the area led to the clearing of vast amounts of land for timber and farming. However, people gradually recognized the value of preserving natural areas and began efforts to protect these forests.
As part of the Massachusetts Forest Reservation program, Great Barrington State Forest was established in 1914. The state acquired several large tracts of land, including those donated by local citizens, to create the forest reserve. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a crucial role in developing the forest during the Great Depression. The CCC built numerous recreational facilities, including trails, picnic areas, and campsites.
During World War II, the forest was used by the Army Air Force as a glider training site. The gliders trained here were used extensively in major military operations, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Great Barrington State Forest remains a popular recreational area to this day, offering a variety of activities like hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping. The forest boasts over 20 miles of trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, which attracts many hikers.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation oversees the management and preservation of the forest, ensuring that it continues to be an important natural and recreational resource for the residents of Massachusetts and visitors alike.
1. Wild Camping: This is an option within the state forest, but campers must follow Leave No Trace principles and respect park regulations.
2. Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Campsite: Located near Great Barrington, this site provides basic amenities like water source and privy to thru-hikers on the famous trail which passes through part of the state forest.
3. Mt Everett Reservation State Park: Although not directly inside Great Barrington State Forest, it's nearby with campsites available that offer fireplaces and picnic tables at each one.
4. Beartown Mountain Refuge Cabin: A rustic cabin located along The Appalachian National Scenic Trail can be used by long:distance hikers as overnight shelter (no reservation or fee required).
5. Beartown State Forest: It's 12 miles away from Great barrington offering year:round campground facilities including showers & restrooms.
6. Parsons Marsh Farm: Offers tent sites just outside great barrington town center.
7. Monterey Chevrah Mishmayot Synagogue Grounds: Provides free primitive camping spots close to downtown Monterey about 8miles south east from great barrigton.