Set amid the dense pine groves, marshland, and maple trees of northern Massachusetts, Willard Brook State Forest is a secluded nature reserve that is perfect for summer getaways. You’ll have access to miles of hiking trails, many of which can be used for mountain biking and horseback riding. If you visit during the winter, you can explore use the trails as a cross-country skiing course, or for snowmobiling. You’ll be able to see a number of mammals, such as white tailed deer, coyotes, and black bears.
The main campground is just a short walk from Damon Pond, where you can swim, canoe, or fish. You’ll find white perch, bluegill, pickerel, and smallmouth bass. During the winter the pond often freezes over, making for great ice fishing. You’ll also be able to spot dozens of bird species near the water, including blue jays, carolina wrens, bluebirds, starlings, and a variety of waterfowl.
There are 19 RV and tent sites that can be reserved, all of which give you easy access to the park’s trails and pond. The campground is also pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your dog along with your campervan.
Located along Massachusetts’s northern border with New Hampshire, Willard Brook State Forest can be reached from many major cities in the region, including Providence, Boston, and New York.
If you are driving from Boston, take MA-2 west from the city and you’ll get to the forest in just over an hour. From Providence, take MA-146 to I-190 and you’ll arrive in around an hour and a half. Coming from New York, take I-95 north and you’ll reach the forest in four hours.
As you get close to the park, take Fitchburg Road and then turn right when you reach Greenville Road. Drive for a half mile and you’ll reach Hosmer Road, which takes you straight to the campground. There are no narrow roads or tight turns, so campers with large RVs shouldn’t have issues getting to their site. There is ice on the roads during the winter, so take caution if driving during a cold spell.
There are 19 RV and tent sites in the forest’s campground, none of which have electrical hookups. You’ll have a fire pit and a picnic table, as well as access to modern restrooms with flush toilets. The campground is pet-friendly, provided that you keep dogs on a leash.
The campground is located right next to Damon Pond, giving you access to swimming, boating, and fishing. You’ll also be near the main hiking and mountain biking trails.
All of the sites in the campground can be reserved in advance by calling the park office or booking online. They can be reserved up to six months in advance, and need to be booked at least a day before you arrive. Do try to book as early as possible, as there are only 19 sites in the park and they often fill up months in advance.
RV campers will have a number of hiking opportunities while staying at Willard Brook State Forest. Take the Friends Hiking Trail for a four-mile long trek through the pine stands and maple, beech, and birch trees. The trail also connects to Pearl Hill State Park, giving you miles of trails to explore.
Hiking is great throughout the year, although many people prefer visits in the spring and in the fall. Come during April for scenic walks through the blooming wildflower, or in October when the park is dressed up in autumn colors.
The main campground is just a short walk away from Damon Pond, giving RV campers quick access to swimming. You’ll also be just minutes from the park’s main hiking trails, making it easy to cool off after a long day in the woods.
The pond is open to boating as well, so you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking under the hardwood canopy. The park office does not rent boats, so make sure you bring one or visit a local store that offers rentals.
The forest’s network of hiking trails is also open to mountain biking and horseback riding. The terrain features a number of elevation changes and tight turns, making for challenging mountain bike rides. Most of the trails are wide enough for horses as well.
Check with the park office to learn more about which trails are multi use. The park office does not rent equipment, so bring anything you need along with you. There are no equestrian sites, so you’ll have to house your horse separately.
RV campers who are avid anglers don’t have to go far to find excellent fishing. Damon Pond is right next to the main campground, offering excellent angling opportunities. You can fish from the shore or take a canoe out onto the water, where you’ll find perch, smallmouth bass, bluegill, and pickering. If you come during the winter, you may also be able to ice fish.
There is no bait shop in the campground, although there are a few within driving distance. The park does not rent canoes, so you’ll need to bring one with your rig.
Willard Brook State Forest is home to a large number of bird species, making it a great area for RV campers interested in birdwatching. You’ll be able to spot carolina wrens, bluebirds, warblers, starlings, hawks, and a range of different waterfowl species.
Birdwatching is excellent year round, although you’ll see the greatest variety of species if you come during the migration season in the fall, when a large number of birds pass through the forest on their way south. You can learn more about the species in the area by visiting the websites of northern Massachusetts audubon societies, many of which produce excellent field guides with illustrations.
If you visit during the winter, you can use the forest’s trails as a cross-country skiing course. Take the Friends Hiking Trail through the forest for a scenic tour of the pine groves and maple trees. The varied terrain means there’s something for skiers of all experience levels.
There are equipment rentals, so make sure to bring all of the gear you need along with your RV. The trails are often not groomed, especially after heavy snow storms, so beginner skiers should take caution.