In 1929, the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) donated 1,020 acres of pristine woodlands, just east of the Berkshires, to the state of Massachusetts. The park later acquired 750 additional acres to encompass both the Upper and Lower Highland Lakes, in Goshen, MA.
Today, there is a beautiful sandy beach, with a clean bathrooms and changing areas, as well as plenty of nearby picnic areas equipped with charcoal grills. A large picnic pavilion is also available for rent, in addition to 51 overnight campsites.
The DAR offers 15 miles of wooded hiking trails, including a gorgeous trail skirting the lake that is both handicap accessible and stroller friendly, complete with a gazebo, wildlife viewing stations, floating docks and shady fishing spots.
Several trails, varying in steepness and intensity, lead to my kids favorite spot in the park, the Goshen Fire Tower, which is open to climbers and offers a spectacular panoramic view of five states! (The Tower is also accessible by car. Take Tower Rd. but park below the large brown gate as you near the tower.)
There is also a paved boat launch (non-motorized boats only) and designated mountain biking, horseback riding and snowmobile trails. Visitors during the winter months are welcome to warm up at the warming station after skating, ice fishing, snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Dogs are always welcome (on-leash).
The entrance to the state forest is located at 78 Cape Street (Rt 112) in Goshen, MA. When traveling to the DAR State Forest from the Berkshires, follow Route 9 east in Dalton for 27 miles to Goshen. Across from George Propane, turn left onto Route 112 north and continue for 0.7 miles. The park entrance is on the right. There is a daily parking fee of $8 for MA vehicles and $10 for out if state vehicles, between Memorial Day and mid-September. Day use of the park is free in the off season from sunrise to sunset.