- Visit North Central
What’s a fun, affordable, and healthy way to connect with the outdoors and enjoy a variety of recreational and family activities? Camping, of course!
Relaxing in the fresh air under the stars, by a lake, or along a forest trail is a great opportunity to escape from the life stresses and electronic devices that are prevalent in today’s world.
Whether you’re looking for a full-service family facility, a secluded backcountry experience, or something in between, you’ll find a variety of camping options in North Central Massachusetts. Most campgrounds are open seasonally from May to September or October, and a few offer winter access. Dates vary annually, so be sure to check with the owners in advance to confirm availability.
Private campgrounds generally offer the greatest variety of amenities and family
activities, including pools, playgrounds, stores, recreation halls, wireless Internet, TV, and scheduled programs and events. Many are geared to RVs, but some offer cabins and rustic tent sites.
Public Sites Abound
Public campgrounds are a great base for exploring the region’s many conservation areas and trails. Most provide basic facilities such as restrooms and showers, swimming beaches, and boat launches. Otter River State Forest and Lake Dennison Recreation Area are part of a large protected are
a along the Millers River with more than 50 miles of trails.
Further east, Willard Brook State Forest and Pearl Hill State Park offer peaceful wooded sites and interconnected trails. There is also a small primitive campground at the Federated Women’s Club State Forest in Petersham. Reservations for Massachusetts state forest and park campgrounds can be made up to six months in advance.
Tully Lake Campground, located on the north shores of Tully Lake in Royalston, offers two boat launches, canoe and kayak rentals, and ranger programs. The trails include a scenic 4.5-mile loop around the lake, a 7.5-mile mountain bike trail, and the long-distance Tully Trail. The nearby Tully Lake Recreation Area includes a picnic area, playground, and a disc golf course.
Finally, several primitive shelters (also known as lean-tos) offer the opportunity to escape the crowds and enjoy a true backcountry experience. At the Bearsden Conservation Area in Athol, shelters are located on the banks of the Millers River at Duck Pond and Buckman Brook, and a cabin is available near the main entrance. There is no fee, but campers must register ahead with the town.
At Royalston Falls Reservation in Royalston, the Falls Brook Shelter, located at the junction of the New England National Scenic Trail (NET) and the
Tully Trail near Royalston Falls, is available for hikers on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit newenglandtrail.org for more information.
In addition to the state-operated campgrounds, the region is home to a wide array of private camping spots.
If you’re looking for lots to do, it’s hard to beat Pine Acre Family Camping Resort in Oakham, offering everything from arts and crafts programs for kids to a Cinco de Mayo celebration and Fourth of July fireworks, live entertainment and beach parties. There’s a wide variety of site options, from secluded wilderness areas to premium hook-up sites.
At The Pines Campground in Ashby, you can enjoy pond and stream fishing, a playground, swimming pool, potluck dinners and plenty of weekend activities.
Lamb City in Phillipston, conveniently located just off Route 2, has over 200 sites, along with three pools, canoe rentals, and a sports field. Like karaoke or “Let’s Make a Deal”? Come on down!
Toss some horseshoes, take a dip in the pool, or spend a day relaxing by the duck pond at Pout & Trout Family Campground in Rutland.
Peaceful Acres, tucked way on 300 acres of woodlands in Hubbardston, dishes up breakfasts, buffets and barbecues, and offers fishing, swimming, horse camping sites and trails, too!
Gather the family, pack up your camp-hing gear — and enjoy sleeping under the stars in Johnny’s backyard!
Written by: John Burk