Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Vanagon Road Trip: Erving State Forest, Laurel Lake Campground

We have some catching up to do with a backlog of maintenance and trip posts, so I'll start with the most recent. This past weekend we packed the family into Ruby the van and headed to Erving State Forest in western MA.

The campground is situated on small but lovely Laurel Lake. We always try to avoid resort-like, RV-heavy campgrounds in favor of more rustic, simpler options, and the camping at Erving offered the perfect balance of easily accessible adventures, nice facilities, and spacious, reasonably private camp sites. We stayed in site #20 and left feeling that it's one of the best available at Erving. The only downside is that the lake access was quite far from most sites. Not walking distance when you're traveling with a 2 year old and a 4 year old.

We were also camping with the dog, and dogs are not permitted at the Laurel Lake beach. The temperature was 95 degrees that day so we certainly weren't leaving him in the van. The solution: while one of us was swimming with the kids, the other took the dog on the short (1.5 mile?) trail loop that begins at the Forest Headquarters hut near the lake's day access parking lot. The trail offered surprisingly excellent terrain: rugged, varied, and scenic. Parker was able to run wild and release some pent-up energy while the lone parent enjoyed some quiet time in the woods. Neither of us saw another person out there; maybe we were the only ones crazy enough to hike in that heat and oppressive humidity.

The trail loop ends a bit further down the park road and I found a sneaky access point on the lake for Parker to swim and drink.  Amanda and I then traded places and she took Parker for a second hiking loop while I enjoyed a swim with the kids. Everyone was happy, dog included.

Forest staff visited the site in the early evening to warn us of approaching severe weather, so we finished up the campfire s'mores session and prepared to hunker down. The skies quickly darkened and a lighting storm did rip through the area, but it was brief and the rain brought some desperately needed cooler temps.

I'd call this trip a success. The boys were happy (Jacob's first time sleeping in the upper bunk!) and this little adventure was a great way to continue easing them into Vanagon life. We would definitely return for another stay in Erving State Forest.