Set amid the dense woodlands of western Massachusetts, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) State Forest is a lakeside retreat with miles of scenic hiking. The main campground is located on the shores of Upper Highland Lake, and there are over 15 miles of trails leading along the lake and through the sugar maple and beech forests. You can also climb up to the top of Goshen fire tower for a scenic view overlooking the Connecticut River Valley. Most of the trails are multi-use, letting you horseback ride or mountain bike. During the winter, they turn into the perfect course for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
There’s also plenty to do on the water at DAR State Forest. Upper Highland Lake has great opportunities for anglers, with large populations of yellow perch, panfish, trout, and bass. You can kayak and canoe along the quiet shoreline, as well as soak in the sun on the sandy beach on the edge of the campground.
The campground has RV 50 sites to choose from, all of them located near the lake. You’ll be just seconds from the main swimming area, and many of the forest’s hiking trails lead directly into the RV campground.
RV Rentals in DAR State Forest
Transportation in DAR State Forest
DAR State Forest is located in western Massachusetts, within driving distance of multiple major cities in the northeast. It has few tight turns or narrow roads, and is easy to access directly from main thoroughfares.
If you are coming from Boston, take I-90 west out of the city and you will get to the park in around two hours. From Providence, you’ll also take I-90 and reach the park in two hours. Driving from New York, take I-95 and I-91 north and you’ll arrive in around three and a half hours.
The campground is just a short drive off MA-112. Just take Moore Hill Road and you’ll get to the campsites within minutes. There are a few tight turns driving to the campground, so you may have to drive slowly if you have a large RV. The roads also get fairly icy as the temperature drops in November, so take caution while visiting during the winter.
Campgrounds and parking in DAR State Forest
Campsites in DAR State Forest
DAR State Forest Campground
There are 50 sites located within the forest’s campground. None of the sites have hookups of any kind, but they do have fire pits and picnic tables. The campground is pet-friendly, provided that dogs stay on a leash.
The campground is located on the southern tip of Upper Highland Lake, and many sites have a direct view of the water. You’ll be right by the swimming beach, and the trail leading to the Fire Tower is just outside of the campground.
The campground is open year round, and all of the sites can be booked in advance. You can reserve a site up to six months before your visit, and will need to book at least a day before you arrive. The campground is quite popular during the summer, so try to book as early as possible.
Seasonal activities in DAR State Forest
The park is a popular destination for fishing, with a wide range of species populating the waters. Anglers will find trout in the spring, as well as large and smallmouth bass. You’ll also be able to catch panfish and yellow perch throughout the year. You can fish from the shore or take a boat out onto the lake. Motorized boats are not allowed, but you can use a canoe anywhere on the lake. There are no rentals from the park office, so make sure you bring everything you need with your camper or trailer.
RV campers who have tired themselves out from hiking can head to the sandy beach located just outside the campground. It’s an excellent location for a family day on the lake, with a number of picnic areas near the shore. Dogs are also allowed on the beach, but be sure to keep them on a leash. The beach is not monitored, so take caution when swimming with young children. There are no rentals either, so make sure to bring any beach gear you need in your campervan or Airsteam.
With over 15 miles of trails, hikers of all experience levels will have plenty of ground to cover at DAR State Forest. The park’s woods are packed with wildlife, from white-tailed deer and coyotes to the occasional black bear.
The Highland Lake Trail offers a relaxing walk along the cool shoreline of Upper Highland Lake. You can also hike up to the Goshen fire tower, giving you views of the surrounding forest and the Connecticut River Valley. The hikes are excellent year round, although many people prefer to visit in spring or fall, when the colors are at their most vivid.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowmobiling
If you visit the park as the woodland begins to freeze over, you can use the network of hiking trails for both cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. You’ll have over ten miles of trails to explore, taking you through the frozen woods and along the shores of Upper Highland Lake. You’ll find a wide range of species in the park during the winter, including black bears and white tailed deer. The park does not rent ski gear, so bring what you need along with your rig. The trails may not always be groomed, so beginner skiers should take caution.
The lake freezes over most winters, giving campers the opportunity to ice fish. You’ll find plenty of panfish and yellow perch in the lake, and the largemouth bass is excellent towards the end of winter. The lake is just outside the campground, so you can fish feet away from your RV. The park does not guarantee the condition of the ice, so fish at your own peril. Check the ice thickness right before going out onto the lake, as conditions can change quickly.
The 1,000 acres of woodland in the forest make for great birdwatching year round. You’ll find species such as great blue heron, northern waterthrush, and cerulean warbler. In total, there are hundreds of bird species found in the forest. Hike up to the Goshen fire tower for some of the best views in the forest, and you may be able to spot haws as they hunt.
There are a number of audubon societies that can provide more information on the birds in the area. Check their websites for field guides and bird checklists. You can also get more information from the park office.