With boost from $25K grant, new campground looks to open in Charlemont

  • Patrick and Katie Banks, owners of Foolhardy Hill, a new campground opening this summer in Charlemont. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Foolhardy Hill, a new campground opening this summer in Charlemont, has five small cabins, space for tents, running water, bathrooms, a communal kitchen space with cooking supplies and a fire pit. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/25/2021 2:50:06 PM

CHARLEMONT — Foolhardy Hill, a new campground opening this summer on Zoar Road, aims to make camping accessible without diluting the outdoor experience that visitors enjoy about the area.

The new campground was supported by a business development program called the Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge from Lever Inc., an economic development nonprofit based in North Adams. Out of five finalists, Foolhardy Hill was selected to receive a $25,000 grant.

Foolhardy Hill is run by husband and wife Patrick and Katie Banks, both of whom grew up in the area. They met when working for the Charlemont whitewater rafting company Zoar Outdoor.

Both have always enjoyed the outdoors, Katie Banks said, and they bring to their new business backgrounds in hospitality, customer service and public service.

“We were always really focused on taking care of the land,” Banks said. “We constantly find ourselves saying, we don’t want commerce to spoil the reason people come to Charlemont. We want to preserve and conserve the area. What better way to do that than provide a way to camp?”

The idea came when they noticed that people who went camping in the area often did so by trespassing on privately owned or state-owned land, according to Banks.

Instead, Foolhardy Hill will provide the basic amenities of a campground. It has five small cabins, space for tents, running water, bathrooms, a communal kitchen space with cooking supplies and a fire pit.

But the site is also designed to fit into the natural environment, Banks said. It was designed around old logging roads, which reduces the effect on the forest floor by avoiding the need to cut too many trees, she said. It’s also entirely solar powered.

That made the project a good fit for Lever’s Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge, which has provided business development training to companies that would serve customers from within and outside the region, would create jobs and could potentially attract grant funding.

The four other finalists in the Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge were Adventure East, a luxury outdoor travel company; Berkshire Bike Tours, which leads tours in mountain biking and road biking for a variety of skill levels; Remote Harvest Sensors, a company developing technology to support sustainable forestry; and Western Wigwam Summit, an inn on Route 2, at the hairpin turn into North Adams.

Lever worked with the participating companies to develop their business plans and to lend technical support for building a business. At the end, each company gave a pitch to win a $25,000 grant from the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

On opening during the pandemic, Banks said it might work well for the business.

“People are wanting to get outside,” she said. “It’s much better to social distance outdoors than indoors.”

Foolhardy Hill, at 232 Zoar Road in Charlemont, aims to open for Memorial Day weekend. For more information, visit foolhardyhill.com.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


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