In my last post, highlighting the favorite local outdoor recreation areas voted on by the readers of Springfield’s local newspaper, The Republican, as part of their summer and fall 2012 Reader Raves, I featured Mount Tom (voted best hiking in Western MA). This week, I’ll be touching base with the Reader Rave for best campground, The Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) State Forest!
The main gate of the D.A.R. State Forest is located off Rt. 112 in Goshen, MA. In 1929, the Daughters of the American Revolution, a non-profit organization, donated 1,020 acres to the State; since then, 750 additional acres have been purchased, including the Upper and Lower Highland Lakes.
The D.A.R. State Forest features 51 wooded campsites that are not only incredibly clean, but also impressively placed and family-friendly. Nearly every site offers more than enough sufficient space from the campers in the next site, and the campground also features showers, public bathrooms, and a nicely organized recycling center.
The campground has handicap accessible sites, as well a private beach on Upper Highland Lake. Both Upper and Lower Highland Lake feature numerous picnic areas with tables, outdoor fire pits, and running water. From October through April, camping is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Reservations for the campground should be made prior to your departure, and can be made on ReserveAmerica.com. If you’d like to arrange for a large group to camp at the D.A.R. State Forest, a more remote group camping area is available upon request.
To occupy your time while camping at this wonderful spot, there are 15 miles of trails for exploration by foot, bike, or horse. Specifically, there are three hiking trails that are easily accessible from the campground: The Darling Trail, Long Trail, and the Nature Trail.
It should be noted that horseback riding is not permitted on the National Mountain Bike Association Trail, which extends from the main camp road to the Fire Tower dirt road.
If you enjoy swimming, fishing and/or boating, it may be helpful to know that Lower Highland Lake is 88 acres with a maximum depth of 16 feet, and Upper Highland Lake is 53 acres with a maximum depth of 14 feet. Non-motorized boating is available in both lakes.
For those who desire to fish, if you’re looking for smallmouth bass or trout, stick with the Upper Lake; if you’re looking for largemouth bass or yellow perch, stick with the Lower Lake.
When swimming, be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty – so, swim at your own risk and keep a close eye on children at all times.
With 15 miles of trails, great lakes, as well as fantastic picnicking and camping, the D.A.R. State Forest is an awesome place to explore in Massachusetts. Looks like the Reader Raves voters have it right!
Go check it out, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Benjamin Libbey is a blogger and avid outdoor enthusiast. Born and raised in Western Massachusetts. Ben’s lifelong hobbies include hiking, fishing, and canoeing. Outside of his day job, Ben can be found on the mountains and rivers of New England; seeking both adventure and tranquility in the great outdoors. You can check out his blog, Outdoors Ben, and also find him on Facebook and Twitter @Outdoorsben.
The D.A.R. State Forest is located at 78 Cape Street, off Rt. 112 in Goshen, MA. For more information Massachusetts’ outdoors, please visit the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Photos courtesy of Benjamin Libbey.