Sunday, June 15, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Part 1: Clarksburg State Park

This past Memorial Day Weekend we camped with a group of friends at Clarksburg State Park. Having lived most of my life in the northeastern portion of Massachusetts, I've been enjoying our trips to the western part of the state. We followed the Mohawk Trail (Rt. 2) out to North Adams and prayed that it wouldn't rain. The camping trips in 2013 were terrible with rain. Memorial Day Weekend last year we were cold and wet most of the weekend except for when we were heading home. Labor Day weekend it was lovely until it rained and flooded most of the campground! We did hit some downpours on the road but once at the campground we managed to miss most of the precipitation.

Saturday morning we decided to stop in at the ranger station to pick up a trail map. We wanted to take our breakfast trash to the dumpster anyways. So Big and Lil' Dude, myself and Zazu wandered down the camp road. The ranger let us know that the weather was looking good for the weekend and gave us a map. We continued to the dumpster and followed the road to the bath house at Mauserts Pond.

We passed the trail head for Timberline and Shoreline Trails on the way. We decided that we would hike Shoreline back up towards the campsite after we checked out the beach. 

The pond looked full and the hills in the distance were lovely. I'm fairly certain that those hills are actually across the state line in southern Vermont. 

The bath house looked like a new facility. It had a clean and tidy look to it. I'm often surprised when I find a MA state park that appears to have had some money put into it. Many of them have fallen prey to budget cuts. 

We knew before we left home that swimming was out of the question. They had just treated the water for aquatic vegetation. :-(  

The beach itself appeared sandy and looked like a great place to picnic and spend the day. The fence and benches looked like they had seen better days. They were at strange heights. Lil Dude found one that he could climb up onto by himself. The other benches he needed assistance to climb on.

We spent some time examining the beach. Then we decided to head back towards the trail head. We crossed through the grove of picnic tables and charcoal grills. 

Then we hit the trail. The map we had was the basic one that state provides. There is a second one on their website that gives a better description of the Pond Loop and the legend of Mauserts Pond. The second map is much more entertaining, I advise printing it out before heading to the park. A park with a history of "sin" is an added bonus to the beauty of the woods. 

The trail starts out as a track for four-wheeled vehicles. Eventually it downgrades to a single track. There is very little elevation gain and it was a short while before we came to the junction of the Headquarters Trail. We continued on the Shoreline Trail and came across this curiosity.

We spent some time examining it and attempting to figure out what is could have been used for. Clearly it had been there for some time but we still don't know it's purpose.

A bit further down the trail we came to a lovely clearing looking north to Vermont. Soon after that we noticed a beaver lodge on the other side of the pond. Unfortunately, I did not have my DSLR on me so my point and shoot had to do.

About this time, we noticed lovely blue blazes marking the trail. We had not seen them early on but later I learned that they were to designate the Pond Loop. 

Lil' Dude remembered from our last hike that he should keep an eye out for blazes. So every time he saw one he let us know.  

And then the trail got muddy. There were bridges and boards laid out to aid against erosion and trail destruction. However, many of the boards were rotten and sinking into the muck. 

We came across this lovely marbled rock on the path. After finding it we noticed there were several along side the trail and through the campground.

And then it got very muddy.  

Like stinky mud.

As we moved up to higher ground and closer to the campground we spotted this boulder surrounded by tree roots. I loved it! Nature will work to overcome and adapt to it's neighbors.

Did I mention that we brought Ansel with us? Yup, muddy paws emerged once more. Don't worry he had a good grooming when we got home.

We sat at Lookout Point for some time. The skies were starting to clear up. The park had a picnic table there and it was the path for small craft boats to hike down from the campground. 

Not too far away we could see a line of windmills in the distance. They weren't moving very fast but I'm sure they catch some decent breezes on the ridge. 

While we were sitting, a father and pre-teen daughter came down with their kayaks. They launched and had the pond all to themselves. They were headed out to the beaver lodge when we left the pond. We walked up the short path to the campground road. From there we found our campsite and relaxed. 

The campground itself is relatively small. Reservations opened this year later than all the others in the area. So we managed to get in without issue. Our group had 4 sites. We tend to be relatively quiet campers (even with small kids). There was one large group that started it's parties up after quiet hours. There did not appear to be a campsite manager through the night. It probably would have helped with the noise control. There is a newer bath house in the campground as well. If we were to camp there again, I would try to get a campsite close to the pond. Our friends' were farther away from the road and experience less traffic noise. Given our history of bouncing from campground to campground, we probably won't be heading back to this one in the near future.

Where: Clarksburg State Park, 1199 Middle Road, Clarksburg, MA 01247

Directions From the East/I-91: From I-91 take Exit 26 in Greenfield and follow MA Rte. 2 west for 34 miles to North Adams, to intersection with MA Rte. 8 north. Turn right and follow Rte. 8 north for 3 miles to Middle Road. Turn left onto Middle Rd. and continue for 0.1 mile to park entrance on right.

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