194 Cranberry Rd, Carver, MA 02330, USA
Owned By: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Myles Standish State Forest is large — more than 12,400 acres. Many rare habitats and species can be found here including Pine Barrens, frost pockets, coastal plain kettle ponds, as well as 42 rare and endangered plants and animals. Recreational features include 4 camping areas for trailers, RVs and tents, swimming at College Pond, 15 miles of paved bike paths, 13 miles of forest trails, plus fishing, non-motorized boating, and horseback riding. There are 35 miles of equestrian trails. Stroller-friendly.
Myles Standish State Forest, the largest public open space in southeastern Massachusetts, was established in 1916. Many of the recreational amenities were developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps; they also planted over 700,000 trees. Noteworthy past visitors include: Daniel Webster, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson.
• There are dozens of ponds for fishing. Click here to apply for a freshwater fishing license.
• Quail and pheasant hunting are allowed in two Wildlife Management Areas. Call ahead to verify hunting season dates. Click here to apply for a hunting license.
The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest is an organization that promotes and conserves the natural, scenic, and historical resources of the forest. For more information, visit www.friendsmssf.com.
Fire is sometimes used as a land management tool. This practice dates back to Native American communities. The Great Fire of 1900 burned about 50 square miles of Plymouth, from Myles Standish State Forest to Cape Cod Bay. There was another significant blaze in 1985. To reduce future damage, Myles Standish State Forest began a prescribed fire program in 2000. Timber harvests, mowing, and brush cutting also contribute to wildfire reduction and management practices.
Long before European settlers arrived in 1620, this land was part of Pokanoket, a Wampanoag village governed by Massasoit.
The park offers 13 miles of hiking trails, 15 miles of paved biking paths, and 35 miles of equestrian trails. Motorized vehicles (except snowmobiles) are prohibited from all unpaved roads and trails. Be sure to read the Trail Use Guidelines before setting off. At Headquarters, look for self-guided trail brochures, updated trail information, and a paved bike path guide.
MSSF Suggested Hikes and Rides
• Bicycle the Camping Pond Loops • 6.25± miles round trip. • Easy. • These scenic bike loops are perfect for families and people looking for a relaxing ride to Fearing Pond and Charge Pond. Begin at Headquarters where you will find public restrooms and a water station.
• Bicycle the Rocky Pond Path • 7.8 miles round trip. • Moderate. • Starting at Headquarters, this paved path winds through the pine, spruce, and scrub oak forests on its way to the Rocky Pond parking lot . At Rocky Pond, take a hike on the Rocky Pond Bog Loop trail.
• East Head Loop/Healthy Heart Trail • 2.6 miles circling East Head Reservoir. Blue blazes. • Easy. • This hike is an ideal introduction to the forest. Starting from Headquarters, the trail hugs the shoreline of the East Head Reservoir. Traverse the boardwalk sections over wetlands and enjoy the scenery in any season.
• Bentley Loop Trail • 3.6 miles. Blue blazes. • Moderate. • The Bentley Loop starts from the parking lot off Upper College Pond Road. It passes some lovely ponds and meadows. Hikers are reminded that the Bentley Loop travels through a Wildlife Management Area stocked with game birds during the fall. Be sure to wear blaze orange if you go out during the fall and check the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife guide for a full list of hunting season dates.
• Friends’ Loop Trail • 2.7 miles. Blue blazes. • Moderate. • Begin at the East Entrance parking lot . Take the Frost Pocket Bike Path to the Friends’ Loop Trail. The trail is some- what hilly, crosses a glacial moraine, and offers a number of excellent views through the tall pines. At the trail’s southwest corner, it connects to the 8-mile Pine Barrens Path.
• Charge Pond Loop Trail• 4.8 miles. Blue blazes. • Moderate. • This trail circles the campgrounds near Charge Pond. Easiest trail access is provided from the parking lot along Charge Pond Road. Take a short walk north along the bike path from the parking lot and turn onto Sasemine Way. The trail passes close to the campgrounds at several points and crosses a number of the fire roads.
• Pine Barrens Path • 8 miles one-way. Blue blazes. • Difficult. • This trail connects the Friends’ Loop to the Charge Pond Loop along the eastern side of the forest. You can also access the trail from the fourth parking pull-off on Cutter Field Road. This path will take you through the globally rare Pine Barrens habitats and past various frost pockets. Look for the Buck Moth, a black, white, and orange species that flies during the day like a butterfly, and birds like the Rufous-sided Towhee and the Pine Warbler.
Habitats and Wildlife
Myles Standish State Forest is home to numerous wildlife species including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, red squirrel, gray fox, and a federally endangered turtle known as the Northern Red-bellied Cooter. Over 130 bird species visit the forest including rare (in Massachusetts) species such as Prairie Warblers and Eastern Whip-poor-wills. Within the ponds, you may find largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and pickerel. Fearing Pond is stocked with trout in the spring and fall. Forty-two rare and endangered species have been documented here, including moths, butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, beetles, birds, reptiles and plants.
Highlights of the Myles Standish State Forest landscape include frost pockets, kettle ponds, and the third largest Pine Barrens in the world! Pine Barrens are ecosystems defined by large areas of tall Pitch Pines, growing on sandy, infertile soil. Look for wild blueberries along the trails. There are also two working cranberry bogs within the park — experimental bogs, where Best Management Practices in cranberry agriculture are tested and then shared with local cranberry farmers.
Myles Standish State Forest is within the watersheds of the Wankinco and Agawam Rivers. The two rivers flow together in Carver to form the Wareham River, which drains into Buzzards Bay. The forest also contains 58 kettle ponds. Kettle ponds are created by holes left behind by glaciers. They are filled with groundwater and have no inlet our outlet. The water levels vary over time.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: Yes
Size: 12,400 acres
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
Parking: Numerous on-site parking areas.
Cost: Day use parking with fees: May 14 - Labor Day. MA residents $8/ Non-MA residents $30.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium, Hard
At headquarters: restrooms, interpretive center, drinking water, bicycle racks, kayak rentals, picnic tables, grills, informational kiosks, trash receptacles, firewood for sale. The property also features picnic areas, a pavilion, campsites with showers, trailer/RV dumping. Geocache locations.
Dogs: Dogs (except hunting dogs, in season) must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Accessible fishing with beach mat at Fearing Pond. Some accessible restrooms. Beach wheelchairs available. Many paved trails are wheelchair-friendly.
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Wankinco River (Wareham River watershed)