Amid Mohawk Trail State Forest camp closure, other businesses report booking upticks

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 07-07-2023 4:23 PM

CHARLEMONT — With the Mohawk Trail State Forest campground closed for camping due to repairs and improvements to the water system and infrastructure, campsites countywide are filling up as the summer goes on.

The work at the campsites at Mohawk Trail State Forest, which is expected to take 10 weeks to finish, includes connecting and testing a new well and waterlines, replacing roofs and making repairs to Civilian Conservation Corps-era cabins, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

This closure affects the state forest’s 46 drive-in campsites, six vehicle-free campsites, one group campsite and six rustic cabins. The day-use area remains open throughout construction. DCR hopes to reopen in November for the winter camping season.

Camping options that are not closed for the season in Charlemont include private camping locations Foolhardy Hill, Mohawk Park Campground and Country Aire.

“We are hoping to see some pour over from Mohawk to our midweek scheduling,” said Foolhardy Hill owner Katie Banks, noting that she’s had at least two extra bookings already due to the Mohawk Trail State Forest campground’s closure.

Campsites at Foolhardy Hill include a stocked outdoor kitchen. There is also a bar and yard games at the site.

“We do not consider ourselves glamorous camping, but we do say we are convenient,” Banks continued.

Banks reported this year has been slower than her first two seasons in business, but she hopes that might change as more people look for alternatives to the state forest campground. She said people may have begun traveling farther away now that pandemic-related health safety fears have subsided.

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Nearby, Mohawk Park Campground owner Deb Fantucchio said customers often confuse her campground with the one at the state forest, so people have been asking if her campground is closed. Her campground is open for business and almost entirely booked for the season.

“We are getting some business out of it,” Fantucchio explained. She said she feels bad that camping options are so limited this year, especially because the cheapest option for camping is the state forest.

Farther away in Bernardston, Travelers Woods of New England manager Patti Wilcox reported seeing more bookings in the past few weeks following the Mohawk Trail State Forest announcement.

Kurt Warner, president of Travelers Woods, said that in the past three years of the pandemic, there has been a large uptick in interest in campgrounds. The business in Bernardston consists of primitive, electric and water, and full RV hook-up options, with several spots that people live in for the complete season.

“People just want a place affordable to go to spend time with their families,” he said.

Travelers Woods saves spots for “transits” or weekend campers, and its busiest time is July and August, according to Wilcox.

“There are only a couple of campgrounds in the area,” Fantucchio said. “With this closure, there isn’t much to offer in the community as far as accommodations go.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.

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