Erving State Forest
Erving State Forest is located in midwestern Massachusetts in the towns of Erving and Warwick. It's an excellent base for a weekend in the Berkshires, especially during foliage season.
Erving's 4,479 acres support miles of old town and logging roads some of which have degraded to technical singletracks and pleasant woodland doubletracks. In the Summer, a swim in Laurel Lake offers a wonderful break from a hot ride, and its parking lot is a perfect place to ride from. Much of the `trail' activity in the forest is done on snow, and these same well maintained snowmobile trails are great for trail bicycling in milder seasons.
In the Fall leaf lookers will appreciate the foliage, as well as the availability of campsites. Erving is right next door to Massachusett's Northern Berkshires which offer unparralled horizons of multicolored splendor, not only while you ride, but on nearly all of the paved roads from Erving West to New York State.
I have never seen so many varieties of trees in one area as are present in the Erving State Forest. A local naturalist tells me that's because Erving is right on the dividing line between Northern and Southern New England forests cultures. In any case the diversity of woodland flora is pretty impressive. And to my un-educated eyes a lot of the trees appear to be `old growth' in nature.
Riding up through the campground from the Laurel Lake parking lot and then taking one of the two old woods roads leading South provide one with the best of terrain and the least uphill pushing. My favorite trails include Cut Off, Mountain and Pinacle Roads. Returning to the parking lot on the Paved Quarry Road or High Street will save you a lot of uphill sweat. I prefer riding down hard singletracks to pushing up them. Another easy route to the `top' of the forest is on Moss Brook Road. A wondefully secluded, smoothly graded, gentile uphill woodland climb. Take the trail out of the snowmobile parking lot and you'll have a very tdifficult climb, but it is do-able. I particularly enjoy riding "The Chute" in the western part of the forest as a downhill. And linking it with the "Bear Loop" will give you a pretty good look at some pretty remote woodlands. Most of Erving's trails are actually old roads, and for the most part it's a pretty mellow place to ride. Good for families, especially in the summer when Laurel Lake beacons.
North of Laurel Lake Erving borders Warwick and Northfield State Forests. Following the marked snowmobile trails through these three state forests will give you 30-40 miles of riding on wonderful old New England forest roads. These woods roads range in difficulty from graded dirt roads to almost vanishing double and singletrack paths. You could spend more than a few days just riding from the campground at the Erving State Forest without getting bored. Or, you could head 5 miles South and ride in nearby Wendell State Forest.
Riding in Western Massachusetts is fun. There are many large state forests, few people, lots of open spaces and great heaping gobs of unspoiled Mother Nature. But, directionality is important. It makes a lot sense to go uphill on something that's relatively smooth and downhill on something that's relatively technical. The opposite is more work and much less fun. So, in addition to carrying a DCR map, I recommend that you carry a geological survey map. The survey map will clue you in to the relative difficulty of what you'll be riding and also give you advance notice of elevation changes. If you have one of the newer DEM forest maps, you will see contour lines. However the detail on the newer maps leaves much to be desired as many trails and paths are missing.
DCR maps are available on-line. On the map below I've sketched in suggestions for some great riding.
As always, maps are only a guide. Exploring is what follows and that's what's the most fun.