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Friday, September 16, 2016

Camping at Pittsfield State Forest - Massachusetts

On a whim I decided to make September "Hike all the New England Peaks Month".   I mean, we are talking really unofficial here but when the temperatures started to drop and the bugs were gone, I headed to the mountains.

My first hike was to Connecticut's tallest mountain summit, Bear Mountain
And my second hike the following weekend up Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts' tallest peak.
And next week, it's the grand slam, up to Mt. Washington, New Hampshires tallest peak.
Three New England peaks in 3 weekends.  Vermont and Maine, I am coming for you if time allows. But back to Massachusetts.

I woke up early Friday morning (6am to be exact) just to pack my car with the needed supplies for the weekend.  Everything for camping from tents to the charcoal chimney, hiking, food for the trip, and whatever the dog needed (if you have ever been camping you know its a process).  The plan was to meet Thatcher after work in Old Lyme and head north up Route Nine to Pittsfield Massachusetts.  I chose Pittsfield as our stop because at just 20 minutes south of the mountain, it was a great place to camp before hiking in the morning.  Things got a little chaotic when Thatcher showed up without his sneakers and I refused to let him return home to get his shoes and back which would put us at 1:20 out of the way to Stonington and back (without bad traffic).  A trip to Dicks Sporting Goods and chick-fil-a solved the sneaker issue and the bad mood.  Thatcher is the proud owner of a new pair of Merrills.  


With the delays, we arrived at Pittsfield State Park at about 9 pm, of course after the sun had set.  We found the park without an issue, and arrived at the front desk to check in.  The staff is there until 10pm and there were plenty of sites available when we checked in.  



Find a printable map here . We could choose from two different "sets" of campsites, one in the southern portion  (Parker Brook) which were closer to get to and had newer facilities (including flushing toilets, potable running water and new showers).  The other set was in the northern section by the lake (Berry Pond), with more primitive toilets and no running water, and a farther drive.  Because it was late and we were just using the site to eat and sleep, we opted for easy.  



Camping season is from mid-May to mid-October. Berry Pond campground offers 13 rustic campsites atop Berry Mountain; campers need to bring drinking water into these sites. Parker Brook campground, at the mountain's base, offers 12 sites with flush toilets. Nearby, Bishop Field also has 6 open-field sites. 

Reservations are recommended. Campground office hours are 8am-10pm.   Reserve online here (up to 24 hours before).   Site are $17 MA residents and $20 out of state, plus a $2 preservation trust surcharge applies to each camping night (I believe there is also a raise in the price of the lower sites with the new showers). 



65 acres of wild azaleas bloom in June near the summit of the mountain. There are also two picnic areas, one at the top of the summit with an amazing view popular at sunset. This vista from the top of Berry Mountain is accessible by car along the auto road from April to December. Berry Pond is a great place to enjoy the view and is a popular fishing spot as well as one of the highest natural water bodies in the state of Massachusetts (2,150').  We drove by the lake and picnic area in the morning before leaving for our hike and were surprised at the beautiful vista on top of Bear Mountain 





There are 30 miles of trails throughout the state forest which follows the crest of the Taconic Mountain Range separating Massachusetts and New York. The Taconic Crest Trail a 35 mile long hiking trail. The paved three-quarter mile Tranquility Trail is popular.
Nearby Balance Rock State Park is located in the northeast corner of Pittsfield State Forest. Here a huge 165-ton limestone boulder is balanced precariously upon bedrock, a natural curiosity.
Boating: Non-motorized car top boating is available at Berry Pond. Stop aquatic hitchhikers; please ensure that your boat and equipment are clean before launching.
Be Bear Aware: Don't forget you are in Black Bear country. Never physically confront, feed, torment or throw anything at bears. Take appropriate precautions with food so as not to attract bears.
Address
1041 Cascade St. Pittsfield, MA 01201

(413) 442-8992   pittsfield.forest@state.ma.us

Park Entrance Fees
Park Daily Parking Fee: $5 MA Vehicle, 
$6 non-MA Vehicle from early May to early September



Recreational Opportunities


After spending a night at Pittsfield State Park, it was time to head to Hopper Road for a 13 mile hike up and around Mt. Greylock, with some scenic lake front stops along the way.  




7 comments :

  1. Looks like a really pretty park! - alicia @ www.girlonhike.com

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    1. It is really pretty and close which is nice. Nice getaway for some camping and mountain time

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