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Massachusetts State Parks

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USA Parks
Berkshires Region
Great Barrington State Forest
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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.
History of the Area
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.
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1. Threemile Hill Trail: This 3-mile round trip trail is moderate in difficulty, featuring a beautiful forest setting and the chance to see wildlife.

2. Monument Mountain Trails: These trails offer stunning views of Southern Berkshire County from Squaw Peak summit at an elevation of 1739 feet above sea level.

3. Appalachian National Scenic Trail Section Hike - South Egremont to Great Barrington: A challenging but rewarding section hike on the famous long-distance hiking route that passes through this area with scenic vistas along its path.

4. Lake Mansfield Conservation Forest Loop Trail: An easy loop around Lake Mansfield offering serene water views amidst dense forests; perfect for families or those looking for a leisurely stroll.

5. Benedict Pond Loop Trial: The six miles moderately trafficked loop trial located near Monterey offers hikers picturesque lake scenes and wildflowers during springtime while being accessible year-round.

6. Wildcat Ridge Hawk Watch via Old Mill Road (Appalachian): It's approximately five miles out-and-back trail which provides excellent opportunities bird watching especially raptors like Hawks.

7. The Ledges/Threemile Hill Connector: This short connector links two popular hikes together creating longer options if desired by more adventurous explorers.

8. Benedict Pond Beartown State Park Via AT segment: it's about four mile heavily wooded track where you can enjoy nature's beauty including pond view,wildlife sighting etc.

9. Yokun Seat Summit via Overbrook & Burbank Trails: Its steep climb rewards hiker with panoramic vista over Berkshires hillsides.

10. Lake Buel Outlet Stream Walkway: A gentle walk alongside stream providing peaceful environment away from hustle bustle city life.

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Area Campgrounds
Camp Overflow
PO Box 645
Otis, MA
Mountain View Campground Inc
1856 South Main Street
Otis, MA
Walker Island Camping
27 Route 20
Chester, MA
Laurel Ridge Camping Area
40 Old Blandford Road
East Otis, MA
Fernwood Forest Campground, Inc.
350 Longview Avenue
Hinsdale, MA
Summit Hill Campground
34 Old Middlefield Road
Washington, MA
Berkshire Park Camping Area
350 Harvey Road
Worthington, MA

From Boston:
1. Start by taking I:90 West (Massachusetts Turnpike) towards Albany.
2. Continue on I:90 for approximately 120 miles until reaching Exit 2: Lee/Lenox/Pittsfield.
3. Take Exit 2 and merge onto US:20 West towards Pittsfield/Dalton.
4. Follow US:20 West for about 6 miles and then turn right onto MA Route 102 East/Stockbridge Road.
5. Stay on MA Route 102 East for around 8 miles as it takes you through Stockbridge into Great Barrington.

From New York City:
1. Start by getting on NY Thruway/I:87 North from Church St., Franklin St., Varick St./7th Ave, Hudson River Greenway/Broadway/West End Avenue/Riverside Drive.
and Dyckman Street/Harlem River Driveway/Sheridan Boulevard
2. Follow NY Thruway/I:87 N to Taconic State Parkway in Mount Pleasant.Take exit B toward Saw Mill Pkwy/Taconic S.Park/Millwood/Ossining/Croton-on-Hudson from Sprain Brook Pkwy.
3. Continue straight past toll booth at end of ramp.Turn left after crossing over parkways.Go under bridge & make immediate right up hill.Enter parking lot behind gas station.

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Massachusetts State Parks