Pittsfield State Forest is a sprawling 11,000-acre area of Massachusetts state forest that offers some great RV camping and recreational activities. Located in the town of Pittsfield and managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the forest contains some of the best flora and fauna in the state. One of the main highlights of Pittsfield State Forest is Berry Pond. Sitting atop of Berry Mountain, the pond is at an elevation of 2,150 feet and is the highest natural body of water in the state. The pond will provide you some scenic-viewing opportunities soaking in views of the Berkshires.
A lot of the recreation at Pittsfield State Forest occurs in or on the pond as it is a popular choice for swimmers, boaters, and anglers. The trails at the park make for some great hiking and mountain biking, and you can also hunt during the set seasons. During the winter, the park gets unusually cold because of its elevation. There will be plenty of snow around for you to make the most of with snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Pittsfield State Forest has three different campgrounds within the park. In total, there are 40 sites, with the majority of these being primitive sites. There are 21 RV-suitable sites that you can use, but it is recommended that you reserve one well in advance. Peak season at Pittsfield State Forest runs from mid-May to mid-October.
Pittsfield State Forest is located near the town of Pittsfield in far west Massachusetts. There are a few different ways to access the forest. If you are coming from either the east or the west, you can take the I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike). If you are coming from the north or the south, the most popular way to access the area is from US-7. Highways 20 and 22 are both access roads to the forest as well.
The forest is located very close to the border of New York and has one access road that leads into the office and campgrounds. There are many towns located near the forest, so you will have no trouble getting supplies. Pittsfield is only about five miles away, and Albany is approximately 40 miles to the west of the forest.
As you get deeper into the forest, you will notice that the roads become narrower and curvier. It is time to slow down and take it easy here, especially if you are driving one of the larger RVs or are pulling a trailer. There will be heavy snowfall through the winter months at Pittsfield State Forest, so make sure you check the forecast before you leave for your trip.
There are three different camping loops at Pittsfield State Forest, but the Parker Brook Loop is the only one that has RV-suitable camping. This campground is quite small but still has some great facilities. Each site has a picnic table, campfire ring, and can accommodate small RVs or pop-up trailers up to 35 feet long. The camping area has hot showers, flushable toilets, and a dump station. You should be able to find some cell phone reception in the campground. Note that you are not allowed to bring firewood from outside the park, but you can purchase some from the park office if you want to have a fire. There are only 21 sites within the campground that are RV friendly. Due to this limited availability, make sure that you reserve one of them before you get to the park. During the wintertime you might have trouble camping here, so make sure you call the park and see if the conditions are suitable for camping. Your dogs are welcome to join you, but they must always be supervised and restrained during your visit.
Like to hunt? Well, you are in luck! The gigantic hunting area located within Pittsfield State Forest provides a suitable hunting environment, with restricted hunting allowed during the specific hunting season. Common species found in the park include deer, snowshoe hares, and pheasants. If you do plan to go hunting within Pittsfield State Forest, you should read the hunting rules posted on the Massachusetts State Government website. Also, remember to check into the park office before you begin to make sure there is no vital information that you need to know.
Once the snow starts to fall, Pittsfield State Forest transforms and becomes a popular spot for winter recreational activities. There’s a ski lodge available throughout the winter, which helps winter recreationists find a safe place to warm up. There are specially marked trails for those who want to do some cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, so make sure you pack the snow gear on your journey. The 35-mile Taconic Crest Trail starts at the parking lot on Lebanon Mountain Road and meanders south to Potter Mountain Road, passing Tower Mountain, Tilden Swamp, Berry Creek, and several ponds. For a shorter trip, try Shaker Brook Trail or North Family Trail off US-20.
Hiking fans should also be excited to visit Pittsfield State Forest because of the hiking opportunities available within the park. There are many different trails open that will provide you with hours of fun throughout the year. The trails are well maintained and attract people from all over because of the lovely forest setting. Some of the more popular hiking trails at Pittsfield State Forest include the Taconic Crest Trail, Lulu Brook Trail, Turner Trail, and Berry Pond Trail.
Once there is enough snow, you can get out on the snowmobile trails. The 1.7-mile Beacon Trail is a short loop trail located off of Lebanon Mountain Road, or you can try the 1.5-mile Berry Pond Trail, which starts by the campground parking lot. For a long ride through the woods, try the 5.3-mile Churchill Brook Trail, which meets up with many other snowmobile trails, making it an even longer and more adventurous journey. Be sure to dress warm and wear a helmet when you ride.
Be sure you hook up the horse trailer to the RV and pack your riding gear because there are over 40 miles of equestrian trails you can explore and enjoy in Pittsfield State Forest. From the easy 0.8-mile Kingdom Trail with an ascent of only four feet and a grade of 3% to the intermediate 1.9-mile Churchill Brook Trail with an average grade of 8%, there is something for everyone here. If you are up for more of a lengthy and challenging trip, try the 13.3-mile Taconic Skyline Trail. Some of the others include the 2.7-mile Honolulu Trail, 1.5-mile Burgoyne Trail, 1.6-mile Daniels Trail, and the short but challenging 0.7-mile Potter Mountain Trail.
Do you love to ride ATVs? If you do, Pittsfield State Forest is a great place to visit during the warmer months. There are about 16 miles of trails that are ATV accessible scattered throughout the forest. Most of the trails are fast, smooth, and wind through a mix of hardwood forests. You will need a daily permit to ride within the forest. Visitors can get a permit by visiting the park office. There are no ATVs available for rent at Pittsfield State Forest, so you will have to bring your own or rent one through a private company.
Pittsfield State Forest is an excellent place for those who love to ride mountain bikes. There are many miles of trails that are suitable for mountain bike riders within the forest, and they are very popular. The trails range from easy to challenging, so no matter what your skill level, you will be able to find some enjoyment. Riders have noted that the most exciting rides are from the north and south of the top of the ridge near Berry Pond. You can start in either direction on the Taconic Skyline Trail and make your way downhill for a nice ride.
Are you looking to go fishing? Berry Pond is the largest fishing area within Pittsfield State Forest and will offer great fun for anglers of all skill levels. It is a natural pond with a mud bottom and brown water that has around seven feet of transparency. About 500 trout are stocked in the pond each year so it can be a great trout fishing destination. Other species found in the lake include yellow perch, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, and golden shiner.
Be sure to pack the swimming suits and beach toys in the RV before heading to the park because there are plenty of lakes, brooks, and creeks to play in when it gets hot. In fact, the campground has a beach on Berry Pond where you can spend the day splashing around and getting some sun before heading back to the campfire for s’mores. Lulu Brook is a spring-fed swimming hole off Cascade Street and has crystal-clear water to play in. The 617-acre Onota Lake in Burbank Park is another fantastic spot to swim, as is the 480-acre Pontoosuc Lake. There are also quite a few small ponds where you can cool off during the summer months.
If you like to climb, spend a few hours (or days) bouldering in the Pittsfield State Forest. One of the most popular peaks is Doll Mountain, which is in the Taconic Mountains and is a 454-foot moderate climb. Berry Pond has its own boulders to climb if you follow the footpath on the north bank of Lulu Brook. This route is a moderate climb of 866 feet. Another fantastic place in the forest to climb is the Quincy Quarries, which has both technical and free climbing.