Not too long ago I wrote about a walk through Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, Mass. At the time, I recall thinking that I had never spent much time in south-central Massachusetts. It was the kind of area I always drove through on my way to someplace else.

That’s why I decided to make another trip down there, this time to the 5,907-acre Douglas State Forest, in Douglas, Mass. The last few miles of the Midstate Trail run through it, before ending at the Connecticut border. Over the years, I’ve hiked the northern half of the trail – from the New Hampshire border to the Wachusett Meadows sanctuary in Princeton – but never farther south. This seemed as good a time as any to check it out.

As it turned out, I got so distracted by the other things to see, that I ran out of time and never got out to the Midstate Trail.

The entrance and parking areas are located in one corner of the forest, on the shores of Lake Wallum. There’s a picnic area, a bathhouse, boat ramp, a store, and a bird blind. It must be popular, because their literature warns that they often have to turn people away because it’s reached its capacity. On this particular day, I was there early and it was the off-season. I had the place to myself.

Not counting the Midstate trail, there are a number of shorter trails. The landscape is generally a bit gentler, more rolling, than farther north where the hills are higher and steeper.  But just like much of New England, he woods are full of rocks and boulders left behind by the melting glaciers 11,000 years ago. The most common rocks that seem to be native to the area are gneiss and schist.

I took a trail called the Coffeehouse Trail, most of which wound through an oak forest. The oaks seemed to be white, black, and maybe scarlet oak, with grey and white birch, and maybe some yellow birch mixed in, along with white pine and occasionally some eastern hemlock. Identification was a little tricky since the leaves hadn’t come out yet – not surprising given the late spring we’re experiencing.

This is a little different from the mix found farther north, where there’s a lot of maple and ash mixed in.

There’s also a 5-acre Atlantic White Cedar Swamp – quite rare. A boardwalk trail loops through it.

Note: I usually try to post a photo, but I seem to have lost the ones I took in Douglas. I was sure I downloaded them, but now I can’t locate the file. And of course, I erased them from my camera. It’s not easy getting old.

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