The scenic beauty of the Shawme-Crowell State Forest is an experience that makes a delightful detour for most RV enthusiasts. This 700-acre preserve is located in eastern Massachusetts, just on the far side of the Cape Cod Canal. There are 15 miles of easy hiking and biking trails to explore which travel through cranberry bogs and marshes, as well as pitch pine and scrub oak forests. In the winter months, the hiking trails become fun and easy cross-country ski trails, allowing visitors to get a different viewpoint of the varied ecosystems that can be found here. The primitive campsites lack electricity, water, and sewer hookups, but the sites themselves are roomy and well-kept, and generator use is allowed during daytime hours. The dirt pads for RVs are only able to accommodate rigs up to either 20 or 30 feet in length, so this is not the best park for those who drive bigger rigs. Those who enjoy variety will enjoy this park a great deal, however. Not only can you explore the many trails in the park itself, but a parking pass to the nearby beach at Scusset State Reservation is provided as a perk when you reserve a spot here, allowing you to explore a one and a half mile stretch of beach along the Cape Cod Bay.
Shawme-Crowell State Forest is located on the eastern side of the Cape Cod Canal. To get there you will need to cross the canal either using United States Highway 6, just south of Sagamore, or Massachusetts State Highway 28, to the east of Buzzard’s Bay. Both bridges are fairly roomy two-lane bridges. The roads that lead to the campground are often winding, but they are typically level with wide shoulders and are not particularly difficult to navigate. Approaching the turn off to Massachusettes State Highway 130 is much easier from the north, as the turn from the south can be a little tight, particularly if you are towing a trailer. The sign directing you to the state park from the highway is easily visible from either direction. The roads inside the park are narrower gravel roads and some of the turns may be a little challenging. While it is typically fairly simple to maneuver your camper into a spot, some of the campsites have narrow entrances that may be obstructed by roots or rocks. Check your reservation carefully, ensuring that your campsite is large enough for your camper, and if you have a campsite is too difficult to access for the size of your rig, check with the main office and see if they can switch you to a more suitable site.
There are 67 standard sites that are suitable for smaller rigs and trailers, although none of the sites are large enough to accommodate a rig over around 30 feet, and many are only suitable for campervans or trailers smaller than 20 feet. The campsites themselves are primitive, without electricity, water, or sewer hookups, but roomy, with level dirt areas for your camper and shading provided by mature trees. There is a picnic table at each site as well as a fire ring, most of which have hibachi-style grills on them. Bathrooms and showers are scattered throughout the park and although they are a little older, they are clean and well-maintained. There are also several picnic areas and a playground situated in the middle of area two of the park. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance and are between Memorial Day and Labor Day are restricted to 14 cumulative days of occupancy. Up to four pets are allowed at any one campsite, but a current rabies certificate will be required at check-in. Generator use is allowed during the daytime hours but is prohibited during quiet hours, from 10 PM to 7 AM.
There are over 15 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails that wind through the verdant wilderness in the Shawme-Crowell State Forest. The trails in this area are well-shaded in the summer and clearly marked with signs posted on the trees. The Cranberry Bogs and Scorton Creek Marsh trails are great hikes if you are looking for a short but interesting walk, while the two loops that are available both offer a little longer trek, while still being appropriate for all skill levels. Leashed dogs are permitted on trails, but be sure that they are up to date on their flea and tick medication as ticks are abundant in this area.
Those who enjoy taking nature photographs will want to be sure that they bring along their cameras in their campervans. The trails offer wonderful views of pitch pine and scrub oaks as well as a variety of wildflowers, and there are beautiful images of the ocean to be captured at Scusset State Reservation. This area is also abundant in wildlife, including populations of deer, beavers, herons, and raptors, along with several interesting species of turtles and frogs.
If you enjoy feeling the wind in your hair as you explore the wilderness of Cape Cod, you won’t want to forget to pack your bike in your trailer. The while there are a few steeper climbs, the clearly-marked hiking trails are mostly made up of small rolling hills, making them fun, fast rides. They are fairly short and many riders may cover all of the trails in just a few hours. Be sure to watch for deer as you ride, and check your clothes for ticks whenever you stop.
Geocaching is a relatively new activity, first made possible when GPS became available to anyone with a cellular phone. This worldwide scavenger hunt allows participants to utilize that technology in order to locate caches, typically small containers with a log sheet or logbook, and record their finds. Some caches also contain items, either small trinkets which participants can take, and replace with an item of similar value, or trackable tokens which are then moved from cache to cache, sometimes traveling the globe. There are typically several geocaches to find in this area, and cellular service is usually reliable.
In the winter, when the snow blankets the park, the hiking trails that traverse the 700 acres of Shawme-Crowell State Forest turn into charming cross-country ski trails perfect for exploring this winter wonderland. In most places, the rolling hills are not particularly difficult to climb, and they provide fun, smooth downslopes. Keep your eyes open as you ski, and you may spot some of the forest residents who stay throughout the year, such as white-tailed deer and grey or red foxes.
When you reserve a campsite for your RV at the Shawme-Crowell State Forest, you also receive free parking access to the nearby beach at Scusset State Reservation. The beach is just a short drive from the campground and well worth the trip. Here you can wander along the one and a half mile of picturesque beachfront as you watch ships pass through Cape Canal, swim in Cape Cod Bay, or utilize the pier to catch saltwater fish.