Welcome to D.A.R. State Forest
Welcome to D.A.R. State Forest, a 1,517-acre natural treasure in the Berkshire foothills of Western Massachusetts. The forest is managed by the Department of Environmental Management on behalf of the citizens of Massachusetts.
During the summer D.A.R. offers a popular beach for swimming on Upper Highland Lake, and a shady picnic area. A group picnic pavilion can be reserved in advance. The campground offers 50 campsites, modern comfort stations, and aprivate beach. Wheelchair- accessible campsites are available and may be reserved in advance. A group campsite accommodates nonprofit groups of up to 50 people, also by advance reservation.
Non motorized boats may be launched at ramps on both lakes. Ice fishing and skating are encouraged in the winter. More than 15 miles of marked trails wind through the woods, offering year-round opportunities for hiking and horseback riding. In winter these trails are popular with nordic skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. The fire tower on Moore Hill, offering wonderful views, is a popular destination.
The forest was established in 1929 when the Daughters of the American Revolution donated 1,020 acres to the Commonwealth. Almost 500 additional acres have been acquired since then, including the Upper and Lower Highland Lakes. Created in the mid- I 800s by mill owners in Haydenville and Leeds, the lakes ensured a steady supply of water for the Mill River, which powered such industries as a brass works, an ivory button factory, and an iron foundry.
During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps reinforced the dams, constructed trails and roads, planted trees, and built recreation facilities. The park opened for public recreation in 1936.
When New England farmers moved into the region in the mid- 1700s, they cleared much of the existing forest for use as crop and pasture land. The land quickly became tree-covered again when farming was abandoned a century later.
Mountain laurel, ferns, witch hazel, and blueberries grow lushly in the forests under story. Lakes and wetlands make the forest an ideal home for deer, fox, rabbits, beaver, mink, and weasel. Bobcat and black bear are occasional visitors.
DEM uses forest management techniques such as timber cutting, thinning and pruning, to enhance and protect plant and wildlife habitats, and to provide raw materials for Massachusetts' wood products industry.
We hope you enjoy your visit to D.A.R. State Forest. Compliance with the following rules will protect the forest's natural resources and help ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for all visitors.
A complete list of rules and regulations for D.A.R. State Forest and its campground is available from forest staff.
- Speed limit is 15 miles per hour.
- No parking is permitted on roadsides anywhere in the forest
- Fires are allowed only in fireplaces provided.
- Cutting, damaging or marking of standing trees, live or dead, is prohibited
- All pets must be on a leash and attended at all times.
- No pets allowed on beach
- Swimming is restricted to designated areas only.
D.A.R. State Forest
Mailing Address:, RFD #1
Williamsburg, MA 01096
(413) 268-7098 and (413) 549-1461