DCR sees booking surge at state campgrounds

A campsite in Erving State Forest.

A campsite in Erving State Forest. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The boat ramp at Laurel Lake in Erving State Forest.

The boat ramp at Laurel Lake in Erving State Forest. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Erving State Forest and Laurel Lake.

Erving State Forest and Laurel Lake. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Campers enjoy a campfire at their DAR State Forest campsite in Goshen.

Campers enjoy a campfire at their DAR State Forest campsite in Goshen. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-27-2024 5:23 PM

It seems people from all over are anxious for spring to arrive as bookings at the three state camping locations in Franklin and Hampshire counties are filling up fast.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation reports that at least 756 total reservations for the upcoming season had been made at Erving State Forest, Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont and the Daughters of the American Revolution State Forest in Goshen as of March 22. This mirrors a statewide trend, with more than 10,000 reservations placed within the first 24 hours of reservations opening to the public on March 6, nearly doubling the figure seen on last year’s first day of reservations. To date, DCR has booked nearly 16,000 reservations across all its campsites in the state.

“One of our goals at DCR is to get more people outside, exploring our state’s beautiful natural and recreational resources, because we know how important it is for our physical and mental well-being,” DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo said in a statement. “Receiving over 10,000 reservations in the first 24 hours of opening them to the public is a testament to how special our properties are and how much people look forward to spending time in them.”

According to DCR’s statistics, at least 49 reservations had been made at Erving State Forest as of March 22, while DAR State Forest had at least 315 and Mohawk Trail State Forest had at least 392. This nearly matches last year’s totals for the season.

The Erving State Forest campground has 27 campsites, each equipped with a picnic table, pedestal grill and fire ring, according to DCR.

The DAR State Forest campground offers 51 campsites each with accessible flush toilets, showers, a picnic table, pedestal grill, fire ring and food storage locker.

“As soon as it opens everybody has to sort of jump on [a] four-month window,” said Janice Martin, assistant supervisor at Erving State Forest. She mentioned 25 of the facility’s 51 campsites were closed down in 2020 to accommodate social distancing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mohawk Trail campground includes 46 drive-in campsites, six vehicle-free campsites, one group campsite and six rustic cabins, according to DCR. Three of the cabins have a wood-burning stove, serving as both a heat source and cooking surface. Last year, the campground underwent a $1.4 million renovation, including a new water system, road repavement, bathroom upgrades and chimney restorations.

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DCR has 25 campgrounds that are open this year from April to October, depending on the site. Reservations can be made up to four months in advance of an arrival date. However, they must be made through ReserveAmerica, a third-party company. Same-day camping is available until 2 p.m. through ReserveAmerica, but DCR cannot accept walk-in camping.

Campers can find a DCR campsite near them by visiting mass.gov/camping-at-massachusetts-state-parks.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.