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Massachusetts State Parks

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Central Region
Federated Womens Club State Forest
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Rte. 112
Petersham, Massachusetts   01366

Phone: 978-939-8962
The Massachusetts Federation of Women's Club State Forest lies in Petersham and New Salem on Route 122. Its 984 acres stretch to the south and west in the watershed of the Quabbin Reservoir. Groves of pine and stands of maple, birch and hemlock invite the visitor along the wooded roads. The road along Fever Brook is outstanding for its scenery. A wildlife sanctuary compromising 140 acres has been set aside in the center of the forest, and a dam on Fever Brook holds back sufficient water to attract migrating and native wild fowl. In the southwest section is the forest's chief geological feature, the Gorge.
History of the Area
The Federated Women's Club State Forest is a historic recreational area located in central Massachusetts, specifically in the town of Petersham. Originally known as the Bay State Forest, it was established in 1914 as the first forest in the Massachusetts state park system.

The forest owes its existence to the efforts of the Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs (MFWC). The MFWC played a crucial role in advocating for the conservation and preservation of natural resources in the early 20th century. Under the leadership of influential women such as Eva A. Whitney and Susan Minns, the MFWC supported the establishment of a forest dedicated to environmental education and recreation.

The MFWC purchased a 116-acre property near Bare Hill Pond in 1914 from private landowners. The organization donated the land to the state of Massachusetts, for use as a state forest open to the public. This donation was the first of its kind in the state, paving the way for the establishment of other state parks and forests.

In 1916, the forest was officially renamed to the Federated Women's Club State Forest, in recognition of the MFWC's contribution. Over the years, the forest has expanded its boundaries through additional land acquisitions, and today it encompasses around 2,800 acres of protected land.

The Federated Women's Club State Forest offers various recreational opportunities for visitors, including hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The park features several trails, such as the Tully Trail and the King Phillip Trail, which provide scenic views of the surrounding woodlands and water bodies. The main attraction of the forest is undoubtedly its tranquil and picturesque Bare Hill Pond, where visitors can enjoy boating and other water sports.

Throughout its history, the Federated Women's Club State Forest has remained an important example of grassroots conservation efforts initiated by women's organizations. Its establishment not only contributed to the preservation of natural resources but also became a symbol of the growing environmental movement in Massachusetts and the United States as a whole.
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1. Loop Trail: This is a moderate 2-mile trail that takes hikers through the heart of Federated Women's Club State Forest, offering glimpses of diverse flora and fauna along with serene forest views.

2. Blueberry Hill Path: A short but steep half-a mile hike leading to an open summit known as Blueberry Hill which offers panoramic vistas over the surrounding forests and hillsides.

3. Pine Grove Trail: An easy one-and-half miles long path winding its way through dense pine groves, providing opportunities for bird watching and nature photography.

4. Lakeview Track: As the name suggests, this two-mile track provides stunning lake views throughout its course while also passing by several picnic spots perfect for family outings or solo relaxation sessions amidst nature's tranquility.

5. Fern Gully Route: Known for lush ferns lining both sides of this pathway; it stretches about three-quarters-of-a-mile in length making it ideal even for novice hikers seeking some peace within greenery without much physical exertion.

6. Wildlife Observation Point Hike: It leads you on a gentle slope towards designated wildlife observation points where deer sightings are common during early mornings or late evenings - approximately 1 mile round trip from parking lot area.

7. Maple Ridge Way: This moderately difficult route spans around two:miles featuring maple trees forming natural archways overhead creating picturesque scenes especially during fall when leaves turn vibrant hues before falling off branches onto ground beneath your feet adding crunching sounds to overall sensory experience offered here at FWC state forest trails system.

8. Wetland Walkway: For those interested in exploring wetlands ecosystem, there exists specially designed walkway stretching little less than quarter:of- a- mile allowing visitors close-up encounters with marshy landscapes teeming life forms adapted uniquely survive such conditions.

9. River Run Trek: Following alongside river bank, trek extends roughly one:and-quarter miles presenting soothing water sounds accompanying hikers throughout their journey.

10. Wildflower Path: During spring season, this half:mile path transforms into natural gallery showcasing variety of wildflowers blooming in full glory attracting not just humans but also pollinators like bees, butterflies etc. making it a must-visit trail during that time period.

11. Old Growth Forest Trail: This is an approximately 1 mile long looped track which takes you through some of the oldest trees within forest premises giving glimpse into past centuries when these giants were mere saplings.

12. Sunset Ridge Track: A challenging three miles uphill hike leading to ridge top where one can witness breathtaking sunset views over horizon line marking end another day amidst wilderness setting provided by FWC state forest hiking trails network.

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1. Start by heading west on I:90 W (Massachusetts Turnpike) towards Worcester.
2. Take exit 10 for Route 12 towards West Boylston/Worcester.
3. Merge onto I:290 W and continue for about 7 miles.
4. Keep left to stay on I:190 N, following signs for Fitchburg/Leominster/I-495 N/New Hampshire/Maine.
5. After approximately 22 miles, take exit 8B to merge onto MA:2
6. Continue driving on MA:2W until you reach Exit #17 at Athol Road / Rt202 North Orange Rd., turn right off the ramp if coming from east or left if coming from west..
7. Follow this road (Route202 South) southbound through downtown Petersham until you see a sign indicating "State Forest" pointing right into Birch Drive; make that right turn here.

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Massachusetts State Parks