Massachusetts officially established Douglas State Forest in the late 1930s and later purchased additional acreage over the subsequent decades. Though Douglas State Forest is contained entirely inside the borders of Massachusetts, it abuts Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Realizing the need to protect the wilderness from encroaching lumber companies, Massassuchusett purchased around 1,200 acres in 1934. Under President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built several structures that are still used today, roads, and blazed trails.
The closest town is Douglas, MA, about four miles to the northeast. This small town has a handful of charming shops, restaurants, and unusual businesses for visitors to explore. It’s best known for the E. N. Jenckes Store, which was built in 1830. It was continually operated for well over 100 years until 1964. Today, the store has been restored to its 1830s glory and is the headquarters of the Douglas Historical Society.
The Great Outdoors
Douglas State Forest consists of over 5,500 acres of woodlands blanketing, low mountains, and valleys. In addition to several miles of trails that wind and weave through the park, a few epic trails that cut through Douglas State Forest. About 7.8 miles of the famed 92-mile Midstate Trail cuts through this park. The Southern New England Trunkline Trail starts in Douglas State Forest and terminates in Franklin State Forest. Though springtime and summer are glorious, full of soft green leaves, autumn is when Douglas State Forest truly shines.
The rolling mountains and valleys in between are clad in a mix of hardwood and softwood trees: sugar maple, birch, aspen, oak, and beech trees. As soon as the temperature drops, their leaves transform from lush green to a blaze of red, orange, and gold. Join the other leaf peepers and book an RV in Worcester County, and roam the twisting mountain roads or embark on one of the hiking trails. There are a few dozen miles of hiking trails, some of which are shared with horseback riders and mountain bikers.
When winter rolls around and thick, soft snow covers the hills, the fun doesn’t stop. Though the leaves are gone, the woods are somehow magically transformed into a winter wonderland. During the winter months, all of the trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowmobiles, though be aware that not all trails are kept groomed.
Camping at Douglas State Forest
Many people rent an Airstream to skip hotels and get closer to nature. One needs to simply step out of the front door of an Airstream to enjoy the sheer wilderness. Though there is no established RV campground at Douglas State Forest, there are several options within 15 miles of the park. Webster Sturbridge Family Campground a few miles east of Webster could be a good option to consider. It boasts over 100 sites, full hookups, and WiFi. There is also a swimming pool and a dump station for camper use.
Alternatively, you could also RV camp at Lake Manchaug’s premier campground: Lake Manchaug Camping. In addition to full hookups, the grounds have a gated security system, lending some peace of mind to its visitors. Campers can also make use of the laundry facilities.
Cross the Massachusetts-Rhode Island state border and stay at Echo Lake Campground near Pascoag, RI. One of the older campgrounds in Rhode Island, it was established in 1952. Amenities offered to its campers include electric hookups, 1,000 feet of waterfront views, and an on-site camp store.
Exploring the Area
As gorgeous as the woods in Douglas State Forest are, the small mountain towns scattered across western Massachusetts are equally enticing. Full of history, charismatic locals, and fun attractions, exploring each is made a breeze when you rent a motorhome.
Stop at the cornerstone of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island for a photograph to commemorate the perfect RV camping trip. A triangular stone marks the exact spot at which all three states touch corners. The Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park, just outside Thompson, CT, regularly hosts NASCAR race events, regional races, and there is also an on-site golf course.
Walk on the wild side at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, MA. Around 150 animals from around the world live at this 300-acre zoo, including reticulated giraffes, which are endangered, and several species of monkeys and lemurs. Visitors can also opt for behind-the-scene animal encounters with giraffes, rhinos, and lemurs or attend zookeeper talks.
At the end of a long day of hiking and exploring, kick up your heels outside a camper rental at Douglas State Forest and look skyward. Far from towns, light pollution is minimal, and the night sky is extremely clear. On an especially good night, it’s easy to discern celestial bodies with the naked eye.