October Mountain State Forest Campground – Lee, Mass

Hello again friends, today we are very excited but, at the same time, very disappointed to bring you our next campground. We are excited because we get to bring you a campground from a new state, we love exploring new places, and we love sharing those places with all of you. Unfortunately, between the noise, the price gouging, and the terrain the trip itself was not so good. With that, we bring you the October Mountain State forest campground located in Lee Massachusetts which is nestled up in the Berkshire mountains. We will try a new Massachusetts campsite later down the road but probably not for awhile due to the pricing as we will explain.

Upon arrival we discovered that the cost for non-Mass residents doubled, this year, to $54.00 a night. We aren’t sure how long they plan on keeping this fee hike but we can tell you the rangers, apparently, find it ridiculous because now nobody is coming to the campgrounds. To put this into perspective normal camping fees are $17.00 for Mass residents, and $27.00 for non-Mass residents, per night. As you can see it’s quite the jump from any reasonable standard especially when you consider other states only charge between $5.00 and $10.00 more for out of state residents.

Batman can't believe it.

To top it off, and due to the recent pandemic, the campground closed every other campsite for the season, along with all of their yurts, to help with social distancing. That’s a fine, and a responsible, thing to do except when you’re camping. We feel, that you really shouldn’t be close enough to anyone, while camping, to where this rule should ever be necessary. The fact that they have to close off every other site, for social distancing purposes, alone should give you some idea of how close together these campsites really are. We also believe that the huge, non-resident, camping fees are likely the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s attempt to recover some of the lost revenue. That too would be acceptable except $54.00 a night, at this campground, gives you nothing and we are surprised they are even open to be perfectly honest.

Dr. Evil Says No

So with that said, let’s talk about the campground itself so you can draw your own conclusions. The campground is set in a somewhat secluded area, geographically, but is very small, and even though there aren’t many campsites it is very overcrowded. The major downfall to this campground is that it is located across the road from a large electric sub station which emits a loud, deep, constant hum throughout the area. If we could compare it to anything we would say it’s like camping on top of your dryer for the weekend. You may get used to it after awhile but birds, nature, if any other sounds exist they are easily drowned out by this station unless you go hiking on one of the nature trails the campground has to offer.

Site 12 Overlooking the substation.

Massachusetts is one of those states where alcohol is prohibited on state land. Like Connecticut though it seems that rule is loosely enforced as long as you don’t have it out in the open or are being obnoxious. Interestingly enough marijuana use seems to be ok, and we thought it was strange that the state would pick, and chose, one over the other but we guess they have their reasons.

Although there are three levels to this campground we couldn’t believe how quickly we walked across it. If we had to guess the entire campground is squished into 3 maybe 4 acres, at most, and even with our map in hand we were still surprised. The campsites themselves are mostly stone, crush and run, definitely some sort of driveway material that, in some spots, isn’t even spread out evenly. The further back you go the more muddier the sites become until you finally reach the hill. The hill in back holds two campsites, very open, very grassy. The best part is that this is also where the hum from the power station is the quietest. The downfall to this area is that you have two sites, and three yurts, squished all together in the middle of it.

Comfort Station

The comfort stations are actually quite large, for the size of the campground. Oddly enough they are up to date, hands free, and clean. They are complete with shower rooms, then water fountains and a utility sink on the outside of the building. As sad as it may sound, these comfort stations are probably the best feature of the entire campground. There are also two of these buildings so if the campground ever filled to capacity we can’t imagine they see a lot of traffic. There are no additional water faucets on the grounds, however, so they may have a crowd, from time to time, at the outdoor sink but none while we were there.

October Mountain Campground Map
October Mountain State forest campground map.

That is literally all there is to tell, there is nothing else, so with that let’s just jump right into the campsites. We used Reserve America to help create a map so you could follow along since we couldn’t seem to find one. The map, we feel, is a bit misleading and the right side should be squished vertically, by about a third of the height, to be realistic.

First Circle

Now, we would recommend staying away from the first circle completely, unless you have an RV. This seems to be the designated RV area, so to speak, but the majority of the terrain is mud, stone, pine needles, and pavement. Some of the outer sites here are grassy but these all are in direct view of the loud electric substation across the road as shown in the picture of site 12 above. Again, every other site is closed, as of 2020, so overcrowding in any of these sites shouldn’t be too much of an issue this year but we recommend being cautious in the future.

Site 25
Site 29

Sites 25, 26 and 29 might not be too bad if you were traveling with a popup camper. These sites are fresh gravel, not much grass, but they seem to be a little further apart from the rest of the bunch. These sites are also level which is kind of important seeing that they are on the edge of a hill. There is also a tree line on the back side of the sites which helps with privacy, from the circle below, and it also helps reduce some of that hum you hear from the substation. Make no mistake you can still hear that hum quite clearly from these locations, it is just that the noise is a tad more muffled here due to the trees.

Sites 34, 37, 38, 41, and 44 are pretty small and are practically sitting on top of the bathrooms so we wouldn’t recommend choosing any of these spots.

Sites 35 and 36

Sites 35, 36, 39, 40, 42 and 43 are set back in the woods, are far enough away from the bathrooms, the noise is pretty well muffled, and they may have been the best spots on the grounds. Unfortunately, again, they are so crowded that they are almost on top of each other. We actually had high hopes for these sites, but once we went up the trails they were actually much closer than they look from the main stretch. We saw that some of them even branched off to two or more sites at the top so these sites were a complete letdown. It is sad because they could have very well been the quietest, most private sites on the entire campground. In 2020 however, since every other campsite is closed down, it may not be so bad if you chose to come here.

Inside the Yurt
Site 31

At the top of the hill you have the three yurts, which may actually drown out the remainder of the sub station noise but we don’t know for sure since we couldn’t gain access. Spencer had never seen a yurt before but says he would definitely stay in one under the right circumstances. These are basically a tee pee, that sits on a wood platform, with a glass dome on the top. The glass dome is propped up so the ceiling fan can circulate the air easier and we imagine the fan plays a huge roll in keeping the bugs off of you because they seem to be pretty bad here. Next to the yurts you have… well… the best site on the grounds in our opinion. We typically would say it’s our honeypot but it’s not really anything to write about. We apologize our picture is so terrible, we took several and it was beginning to rain so we were in a hurry. As you can see, it’s very open, grassy, on top of the hill, there isn’t a lot of noise but the hum is there. Unfortunately, again, they placed two sites here, sites 31 and 32, and even though they are larger than most there is no privacy, what so ever, since they sit together in a wide open area. There could also be a lot of activity in this area too if the yurts were all full but we don’t foresee that happening this year so site 31 is probably the spot you will want to shoot for.

There you have it no common, or play, areas, no horse shoes, swings, streams, or bodies of water. No hookups for campers, no faucets, but they do have a dumping station in case it is needed. The entire experience has been odd to say the least. We will say that Reserve America was very forthcoming in their description regarding the electric substation, along with the rules and regulations, but perhaps a bit misleading on the actual grounds.

So here they are, like always we put the best spots in the campground down in one group so that you can find them easily but, to be honest, they are just the best of the worst.

  • Site 25 (Popup/Camper)
  • Site 26 (Popup/Camper)
  • Site 29 (Popup/Camper)
  • Site 31 (Best for tents but not great)
Grinch Noise

With that, and especially at $54.00 a night, Kimberly and Spencer give this place a great big thumbs down. Massachusetts touts that the October Mountain State forest is over 15000 acres of wilderness, so you would think that the campsites could be spread out just a little more, so they wouldn’t have to worry about social distancing as much, or somewhere other than next to a substation, anything. We might have actually considered spending $54.00 a night if, you know, it felt more like camping, away from people, away from civilization, away from the noise.

How did we do, as always we would love to hear your questions, comments, concerns, or recommendations below. Until next time friends, thank you for reading, remember to always dance to the beat of your own drum, and happy camping!

– Kimberly and Spencer

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