Beartown State Forest, Monterey, MA

Housatonic river, looking back toward Beartown Forest

During this year of 2020, we have headed out more and more on road biking adventures. This trip took us to Monterey, MA in the Berkshires, to Beartown State Forest, to see if what looked like a road through the forest was rideable on our adaptive tandem. Turns out, it was!

Benedict Pond, near sundown

We found parking next to Benedict Pond, which offers a boat ramp for pond access. Canoes, kayaks, and boats with electric trolling motors are welcome. From Memorial Day to Labor day fees are charged for entrance. On another trip, we hope to bring our kayaks with us to enjoy the beautiful scenery of this area.

All that remains of the CCC camp that was built here in the 1930s to house young men during the Great Depression. They worked in state forests building roads, fire ponds and trails.

Remnants of a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp stand next to the road we traveled on through the forest. A very short distance from the camp site were several apple trees, loaded with fruit. We wondered if the CCC workers planted the trees, or if they had been part of an earlier settlement.

The weather was cool, so we packed wind breakers, sweaters, and food to have a picnic along the way.

Fresh apples!

The state campsites are closed this season to help prevent the spread of the Covid 19 virus. We guessed that other years this road might be much busier, at least around the boat ramp and swimming area. For this visit, the area was very quiet, with few vehicles passing us as we pedaled along.

Quiet road through Beartown State Forest

As we continued, we headed towards the town of Lee, where we met up with the Housatonic River. The road sloped steeply as it headed down to river level, and the pavement was badly washed out in several spots.

Steeply sloping sections of road were washed out

Some of the multiple culverts that cross the road have become crushed, so traveling through this section required attention and care. Most of the road that is in worst repair is not maintained, and has gates that block off travel through the winter.

Bridge over the Housatonic River

The stream beside the road burbled quietly as it headed down to the Housatonic, and must offer an impressive sight come springtime.

Stopping at one of the multiple wetland bogs along the way. No moose today…

The wetland bogs we passed were low, but still had water, and we kept an eye out for moose. Alas, no moose on this visit.

Touches of color starting to show in the foliage

The trees are beginning to turn, earlier than we might expect. We suspect it is because of the ongoing lack of rain we have experienced throughout this summer.

When we returned from our ride we were greeted by trumpet sounds from across the lake. After sharing with us a brief concert, three or four tunes crossing the lake to greet the evening, the trumpeter ceased his music. The pond returned to stillness as dusk closed in. The Appalachian Trail passes quite near Benedict Pond near the boat ramp. Perhaps a hiker brought along their trumpet to keep them company on the trail?

Dusk at Beartown State Forest

Multiple trails branched off from the paved road we traveled on. We did not have time this trip to investigate these trails further. Snowmobiles and off-road vehicles have access to these trails, so be mindful of this if you visit. 12,000 acres awaits in the Berkshires. That’s a lot of space to explore. Happy trails.


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

2 responses to “Beartown State Forest, Monterey, MA

  1. Philip Howard Brewer


    • marjorie561

      Hah! What an adventure, glad you were OK. Turns out, we were racing daylight, and the mountains shorten the daylight as well. We got back all right, but worried about getting back up the road. I don’t always include those parts of our adventures 🙂 in what I write. Thanks so much for commenting. Happy trails!

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