Pearl Hill State Park is actually two parks in one, as the 2,500 acre Willard Brook State Park adjoins the 1,000 acre Pearl Hill, and most of the trails explore both the parks as if they were one. Those trails are the main attraction to most of the parks visitors who have been coming here to hike, mountain bike, and cross country ski their whole lives.
There is a small rustic campground without hook-ups, and mainly geared toward tent campers, although space is available for some RVs to drycamp. There are full restrooms, showers and drinking water, but no dump station to accommodate longer RV stays.
The Pearl Hill Brook Pond is a popular swimming hole in the warm summer months for area families. It's shallow enough to warm up quick in the sun, and to provide safe wading space for new swimmers and young ones. There is a large sandy area next to the pond, just right for spreading out beach towels and hanging out with a good book while keeping an eye on those in the water.
The mountain biking is tremendous and something of a locals secret. When the forest flowers bloom profusely in June, the miles of windy singletrack and large smooth boulders look like something out of a dream. Watch out though, because of the bedrock terrain it can get dangerously slippery here in the rain.
When there aren't swimmers splashing around in the pond, there are trout to be caught in the Pearl Brook Pond and Brook, and campfire grills at each campsite invite cooking up your catch right on the spot.
Just an hour away from Boston, Pearl Hill SP feels remote and natural. The roads can get a bit confusing once you leave the interstate. Follow the signs and your navigation to Townsend. It's right by the park and had gas, groceries, and several options for eating out. The Pearl Hill SP Campground is only recommended to RVrs with boondocking experience, as there are no hook ups at all.
There are 50 campsites but none have hook-ups and there is not a dump station in the park. There are full restrooms with hot showers, and each site has a picnic table and fire ring. Most of the sites are back-in only. Generators are allowed, but you might get some dirty looks from the tent campers looking for a quiet visit.
Pearl Hill Brook Pond is perfectly sized to warm up nicely in the Northern Massachusetts summers. There are not life guards on duty, but the large sandy area provides plenty of room for parents to set up chairs and coolers, so that they can enjoy themselves while keeping an eye on the kiddos. The swim area is roped off, even though the pond is closed to motorized boats.
There are several hiking trails through the park. The "Friends Trail" is for the more ambitious hikers. This three and a half mile trail connects to the nearby Willard Brook State Park and is steep and challenging enough that most guides warn that you may need three hours just to travel one way. Watch out for bikes and horses, which are also allowed on the trail.
The mountain biking at Pearl Hill is something of a locals secret. Over ten miles of trails explore the whole area in smooth, winding, heavily treed singletrack. There are giant smooth boulders worked into the trail everywhere, and so many turns that you're heart will be racing the whole time. The trails are well marked for difficulty and distance. The expert trails are designated because of very narrow runs where trees wait to punish you for any mistakes. It's well worth the difficulty.
Visits to Pearl Hill Brook Pond outside of the swim season can be rewarded with some good trout fishing. The Pond is stocked, and there are definitely "keepers" to be found here. Catching dinner and being able to cook it right up on your own campfire sounds like a perfect camping experience. Check with the State Park and MDFW for regulations and limits.
The regular park roads and campground loops are open to cross country skiing and snowmobiles once there's enough snow on the ground to protect the road surface. The campgrounds are closed in winter, the the park does regularly plow for parking access in the winter. Note that no drinking water is available in the off season.
Thousands of travelers visit this area just to witness the explosion of scenic color each fall as the Northern Massachusetts hardwood forests change. Maple, Beech, Birch, and Oak forests put on an unforgettable display. Tour and bus groups are organized and depart from the Boston area in the fall. Several state web sites even forecast the leaf colors like the weather to help you get the timing just right.