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The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest sponsor many events and activities in and around MSSF, the biggest park in Eastern Massachusetts. Thousands of visitors enjoy camping every summer at one of the forest's 400+ campsites. Many day use visitors enjoy swimming and picnicking at College Pond starting after Memorial Day. Many dozens of miles of hiking trails and bike trails are also available for all users. Park headquarters off Cranberry Road in Carver is a good place to find public restrooms and pick up a map of the forest.

College Pond swimming beach

College Pond swimming.

The Friends activities include:
    Friends of Myles Standish Annual Activities
  • First Day Hike (New Year's Day)
  • Woodcock Walk (March)
  • Park Serve Day (Earth Day) April 20th
  • Plymouth Airport bird walk (May)
  • Whip-poor-will Walk (June)
  • Family Fishing Derby (at Fearing Pond usually last Saturday in September)
  • Photo Contest (Open all year for photos taken in MSSF; entries end two weeks before Derby day)
  • Weekly hikes most Thursdays and many Sundays
  • Trail work days whenever possible but typically in June and November

Our next board meeting takes place Tuesday May 7th . We will meet in the barn 100 yards up the Lower College Pond Road hill from the headquarters. Sign up on our Meetup site (

From our most recent newsletter:

Pine Barrens Restoration Project Debate (Mar 2024)

The Big Idea: Myles Standish State Forest (the forest) has pine barrens (the barrens) which is a rare habitat covering less than 0.1% of the land on Earth and is the home of endangered plants and animals. However, since forests are dynamic, the barrens will progress through ecological succession, leading toward a "climax" or "mature" forest. In the process, the barrens will be overwhelmed under a canopy of oak, maple, beech, etc., threatening a suite of life adapted to that habitat.

Disturbances such as fire, disease, drought, hurricanes, etc. can reset succession to an earlier phase and open the canopy, renewing barrens habitat. The barrens, then, are dependent on disturbances. Fire is the most common disturbance. Historically, the forest has had frequent fires which have sustained the barrens. However, human suppression of fires over the last 150 years, or so, has allowed the maturing forest to markedly reduce the barrens, and also the rare life forms.

The Program; In 2018. the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) proposed a plan to begin treating about 1,100 acres of the southern end of the forest and another 1,000 acres outside the forest over a planned ten-year period to restore the barrens. They would do this by removing at least 80% of the trees through logging, mulching and subsequent prescribed fires. The goals are to restore pine barrens habitat for endangered species, and to protect against severe wildfires.

Public meetings were held in 2018 but there was not a lot of opposition to the announced plan. The plan proceeded for the next five years, effectively treating about half of the planned area. It brought about stark change. Some people compared the area to an African savannah.

In 2023, newly elected Gov. Healey imposed a 6 month moratorium on logging, effectively pausing the 10 Year Pine Barrens Project for this year, since logging has normally been done in the winter season. A scientific panel was appointed by the Governor to make climate sensitive proposals for managing state-sponsored logging going forward with an eye on the Governor's announced plans for reducing atmospheric carbon emissions and increasing carbon sequestration.

The Climate Forestry Committee's report came out in January. One part recommended that the State reduce its plans for restoring lower successional habitat. That would seem to argue against what is being done in MSSF. Another part said that there would be criteria set up for deciding what to do going forward-- except for special areas like Myles Standish SF and Manuel Correllus SF (on the Vineyard), which were getting more active management. We are awaiting the DCR response and also trying to gain information about their plans going forward.

A recent meeting with the DCR Commissioner indicated that there were would be public meetings on the resumption of the plan. It is assumed that the State will propose going forward with the plan for the previously announced reasons. However, others are unsettled or are outright irate at the idea of any continued logging. Opponents contend that they are variously: appalled by the loss of sequestered carbon, or distressed about creating a heat sink in the new clearings, as well as aesthetic and other concerns.

This newsletter issue covers some of the basics. Future issues will explore the biodiversity/climate change interface.

View the rest of this newsletter:

Pine Barrens Restoration Project Debate (Mar 2024)

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The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest listings are the best place to find up-to-date info on all our upcoming hikes, birding events and other activities in Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth and Carver in Massachusetts.

MSSF Centennial logo

What's going on in Myles Standish State Forest?

Jackie Sousa has been promoted to supervisor of the Myles Standish Complex (which controls MSSF as well as Ellisville Harbor State Park, Kingston State Forest, Pilgrim Memorial State Park and several other area state DCR properties) and Steve Niemi has been promoted to Supervisor of Myles Standish State Forest.

Park Serve Day will take place April 20, 2024 in MSSF. Join us at park headquarters for a half day of work sprucing up the park-- followed by a cookout sponsored by the Friends. Sign up on Meetup.

Camping will open Thursday May 16th in MSSF in 2024. Reserve your spots at Reserve America up to four months in advance of your camping dates.

The Friends welcomed DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo to our February 6th meeting.

We had a number of topics we discussed with him and others from the DCR leadership, including:

    Proposed Discussion Topics
  • DCR full-time year-round staffing reductions-- DCR had only one year round staff member at MSSF for most of 2023.
  • State of the Cottage Program- 125 cottages remaining in the park. DCR announced termination plans in 2006.
  • Infrastucture Maintenance-- Day use bathhouse at College, delapidated amphitheater, 50 year old bike trails
  • 10 Pine Barrens Restoration Project- effect of new climate sensitive logging plan on 2000 acre plan
  • Newly enforced parking restrictions on "parkland"

Long time Park Supervisor John Roberts retired as of the end of March 2023. He was the park supervisor since 2008 and will be missed.

There was distressing news in March 2023 that Fearing Pond was in a list of 14 ponds where PFAS chemicals had been detected. Department of Health Issues New Fish Consumption Advisories According to warnings posted at the pond, it is not safe to consume fish caught in the pond. However, swimming and recreational activities were reportedly still safe.

Find DCR events in Myles Standish State Forest with their new DCR event listings search. (Unfortunately, these seem to have been discontinued since the pandemic.)

We have been offering group hiking again on Thursdays and on some weekend days and had a half dozen trail maintenance days in the forest last year. Last year, we did major clearing of a long neglected 3 mile loop trail called the Larch Trail. It is named after a solirary larch tree that stands near the corner of Upper College Pond Road and Halfway Pond Road. The trail was cleared using a rental dingo machine that speedily cleared growth from the trail. Volunteers worked with the DCR to complete the clearing.

We also did a lot of work to restore the trail bed of the Pine Barrens Path and the Charge Pond Loop, which were severely disrupted by the Pine Barrens Restoration Project. Additional work was done to smooth out the trail bed for the trails running out of the Equestrian Parking Lot (near Barrett Pond.)

The Friends 16th Family Fishing Derby took place on Saturday October 14th, 2023 at Fearing Pond.

College Pond day use parking lot is now closed for the season. A fee was not charged at College Pond parking for the last three years. However, the DCR has installed an automated ticketing machine to collect parking fees. They have been having trouble with getting wifi coverage at College Pond to make the automated machine work. The Fearing Pond lot has been closed for the rest of 2023. Fearing Pond has an automated ticketing machine which was in use (except for Fishing Derby day). The fee requires a credit or debit card and is $8 per car for Massachusetts vehicles.

College Pond swimming beach

College Pond swimming.

For 2023, camping opened on May 11th. Visit to get your reservations. 24 hour advance registrations are required. There are no walkups allowed!

Fearing Pond was stocked for trout in March and September this year (2023).

A new Resource Management Plan for Myles Standish State Forest was adopted in 2022.

The Friends held muliple meetings to discuss the plan and to encourage public responses to the plan.

The Friends Annual Meeting was held at our January board meeting. Our January monthly meeting served as the Friends' annual meeting. We reviewed our last year's activities, including the major trail work we did last spring, the manure pit we installed at the equestrian campground and current projects being developed including a reboot of the East Head Reservoir nature trail. Last month, the group approved serving as a charter organization for Carver Scouts.

We also reviewed our financial status (good) and had an election for directors. About half of our directors were up for reelection. (There is a two year term.)

  • 2018 Boardwalk Repairs sign

    . Thank you for your support in getting the repairs done!
  • Public Meeting on Pine Barrens Restoration plan was held in 2018.

    DCR has announced a 10 year plan to treat 1,109 acres of forest land in the southern part of Myles Standish. This will involve cutting down white pines, thinning pitch pine density (by cutting), burning, mechanical clearing, etc. in areas surrounding Charge Pond and Fearing Pond, the Camp Cachalot easement and MassWildlife areas outside the forest. The campgrounds will not be closed. Trails may be closed while work is going on.

    A map of the proposed sections was published by the DCR. The area to be treated includes several MassWildlife areas outside the forest. The plan is to treat sections in the order shown on the map. Two areas have already been cut.

    The full 10 year pine barrens restoration proposal is viewable on the DCR website.

  • Boardwalk Repairs Complete!

    The Friends are very proud to report that repairs on the two East Head boardwalks totaling more than a football field in length have been completed after a total of 9 working days led by Roger Janson, Thom Gifford and John Bescherer

    thom and roger work on boardwalk AMC volunteer Dexter helps with boardwalk Len helps at AMC Open House picture of East Head boardwalk after re-decking Group finishing boardwalk repairs

    We started cutting up wood on April 9th and were able to lay the first boards on April 11th. With the help of AMC's Open House, great progress was made on the first boardwalk on April 14th and completed on April 17th. We started work on the second boardwalk on April 21st and made a lot of progress on Park Serve Day (April 28th). Work was completed on May 2nd. This is the biggest project ever completed by the Friends, using over $3,400 of your donations to purchase lumber and fasteners. We hope that it will last for many, many years.

    East Head Reservoir boardwalk

    Boardwalks Project Background

    The Friends were approved in December 2017 for a DCR Partnership Matching Funds to help rebuild two boardwalks near the north end of the East Head Reservoir. A little more than half of the 438 boards were in poor condition. A few were missing. Our proposal hoped to replace the entire top deck with pressure treated boards designed to last a long time. We anticipated spending about $2,000 and receiving a 2:1 match from the state.

    After receiving the matching funds award, we spoke with Plymouth Cable News (PACTV) in February 2018 about the project -

    We received approval from Plymouth conservation commission to use the pressure-treated lumber. However. after we received approval from the town, the DCR decided that since it doesn't actually own the reservoir or the land that surrounds it, it couldn't financially support the project. We decided to proceed on our own. After we obtained permission from the land owner, and the snow melted, we started the project.

    We needed a lot of help to make this happen and want to thank everybody who came out and helped.boardwalk repair

    Changes in dog leashing and waste collection for wildlife management areas

    The proposed changes were the subject of a public meeting at Mass Wildlife headquarters on Tueday, February 6th, 2018. Since there are are two large wildlife management areas within Myles Standish SF (the Bentley Loop area and the Cutterfields Road area) and there are others bordering the state forest, the discussion was an important one. At its March 14th meeting, MassWildlife's board approved the new regulations with some major revisions reflecting the public comments it had received:

      Approved Wildlife Management Area Dog regulations
    • Dogs must be physically leashed at all times unless they are actively used in hunting or hunting training
    • All dog waste must be picked up within parking areas and within 100 feet of parking areas. Regulation applies to hunters and non-hunters.

    A proposed prohibition of letting dogs interfere with other users' use or enjoyment of the WMA was scrapped as "too vague and hard to enforce."

    The DCR does allow off-leash dog areas in many of its parks. The Friends will continue to advocate for the establishment of such areas within Myles Standish State Forest.

    The Friends (normally) host a lot of hikes, bird walks, stargazing nights and other activities in the forest. The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest listings are the best place to find up-to-date info on all our upcoming volunteer-led hikes, birding events and other activities in Myles Standish State Forest.

    Find DCR events in Myles Standish State Forest with their new DCR event listings search.

    Myles Standish State Forest map available at headquarters.

    A beautiful map of the forest was published in 2016 and is available for free at headquarters. Here is a scan of the map. MSSF trails map Download a printable PDF copy of the Myles Standish map.

    Check out some of our favorite trails!

    Friends Photo Contest

    The Friends have been holding a photo contest for the last 10 years. All photos have to be taken in Myles Standish State Forest. We are looking for photos in many categories that show off the beauty of Myles Standish State Forest. The best photos are enlarged and are displayed at our annual Fishing Derby.

    The awards for 2023 were announced at our annual 2023 Fishing Derby. 6 photos were chosen by the judges as winners. The Friends thank everyone for their wonderful submissions and look forward to receiving your 2024 best photos from Myles Standish State Forest.

    Four photos were chosen by the judges as winners in 2022.

    A colorful car wreck hides in the woods off Three Cornered Pond Road west of the Bare Hill Road fire tower down the hill from the intersection with Ebeeme Road. Photo by Becky Stoudt.

    See all the 2022 Photo Contest Winners, along with photographer names and photo names and locations


    Friends hike in Myles Standish State Forest

    Please consider becoming a member of the Friends. Your contribution helps the Friends pay for our free family fishing derby, trail maintenance, running this website and our Meetup activity scheduling site and the many other programs we run for the benefit of the Forest and its users.

    More details about membership are available on our Membership page You can mail your contribution or use the PayPal Donate button below to join online.

    Do you know someone who regularly camps, bicycles, rides horses, skis or snowshoes or kayaks in Myles Standish State Forest? Our group needs more input from all legitimate forest users. Currently, we have hikers, wildlife observers, hunters/fishers and cottage owners. We would love to have active campers, bicyclists and cross country skiers join us. You are welcome to attend our next Board meeting.(More info.)

    Last Update 4/15/2024

    Contact Us

    About Us


    Order a Friends embroidered logo hat

    Favorite Trails

    Camping in MSSF

    Cottage Program

    Native Bird Support Group

    Take Me Fishin Highlights 2007-2013

    Take Me Fishin Highlights 2014-2017

    Friends Membership Page- Join Us!

    Report Illegal Off Road Vehicle

    Local business sponsors

    Pine Barrens Community Initiative

    Native Plant ID Page

    MSSF Resource Management Plan

    Equestrian Page

    Friends of Myles Standish State Forest Meetup Group The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest listings are the best place to find up-to-date info on all our upcoming hikes, birding events and other activities in Myles Standish State Forest.

    Friends Hats

    Friends logo hat

    The Friends are selling caps with the Friends logo. You can purchase one of these hats at many Friends events. These hats are now also available for order online blaze orange hat(Note: Blaze orange hats are now back in stock.).

    No hunting is allowed on Sundays.

    According to this 2014 article from the Star Tribune (Minnesota) , "Massachusetts has nation's toughest ATV law." In a recent presentation to the DCR Stewardship Council by an Environmental Police Officer, Plymouth and Carver were shown to be the leading sources (#1 and #2) of calls to the Massachusetts Environmental Police with complaints about illegal riding. Your calls have been noticed and the many visits of EPO's to MSSF over the fall were credited to the calls. (Numbers for reporting OHV's in the park)

    It's tick season! (It's always tick season.) Find out more about ticks and what you can do to protect yourself and your pets at the University of Rhode Island's Tick Encounter Center You can:

    • Learn how to make your clothes tick repellent.
    • How to remove ticks.
    • How to treat your yard for ticks.
    • Get your ticks tested. A $50 mail-in test performed by UMass Amherst will quickly tell you if the ticks you find are infected.
    • Identify ticks.

    The bluebird boxes went up in April. The boxes are filling up quickly!

    A new map mural was put on display next to the Park's Interpretive Center.MSSF map mural The map was commissioned by the Friends and the DCR from local artist Laura Anzalone.

    New Treatment Facility for Addicts opened at site of former MCI Plymouth in May 2017

    In early May 2017, patients were transferred in to a new treatment facility for substance abusers and alcoholics at the site of the former MCI Plymouth, which is located within the state forest off Circuit Drive. MASAC Plymouth at Myles Standish State ForestIt is called MASAC (Massachusetts Alcoholic and Substance Abuse Center) at Plymouth. Some of them (17 at last count) had been leaving the facility without permission and have had to be returned by law enforcement. The patients have been committed by the Courts to the facility under Section 35, which explains that those committed to the facility are judged by a Court to have a subtance abuse problem which is causing them to pose a danger to themselves or others. MCI Plymouth existed for about 75 years in the forest using the same facilities and had no escape problems that we were ever aware of. Friends President Bill Vickstrom spoke to the media about the Friends' concerns.

    We hosted the Deputy Commissioner from the Corrections Department at both our June and July meetings. In June, he apologized for the problem and explained how "elopements" from other substance abuse facilities are handled around the state. He told the assembled group about the State's reaction to the "elopements" and how an 8 foot fence topped with barbed wire will be in place around the residential area by the end of June with additional fencing in place by the end of August around the recreational areas. He said that a tactical team is now available for rapid recapture. Many attendees demanded that the State provide better notification of escapes through the use of the reverse 911 systems available in Carver and Plymouth and asked that the State provide better cell coverage in the forest so that users of the forest would be aware when a problem occurs. They also asked that if these are "patients" and not convicted criminals, the response be moderated and stated that the state's SWAT team response with assault rifles drawn and dogs and helicopters had made park users feel threatened.

    As of June 30th, 2017, the new fencing was visible, as was the enhanced security around the site. The Deputy Commissioner provided an update at our July 2017 meeting. Fencing was then complete around two of the residential buildings. Guards continued to be stationed around the perimeter. There were no additional "elopements" in June. We reiterated our requests for an improved notification system, suggesting that temporary cell tower might provide the ability to notify park users who are currently off the grid while in the forest. Solar Energy


    Our most recent newsletters:-

    Pine Barrens Debater (Mar 2024)

    Hello Deer (Apr 2023)

    Vernal Pool (Mar 2023)

    Photo Contest, Free Fishing (Sept 2022)

    Special Meeting, New RMP (Mar 2022)

    Free Fishing, Photo Contest, Life is Skewed (September 2021)

    Return of Fishing Derby (July 2021)

    Forms Most Beautiful (May 2021)

    Tick talk (April 2021)

    March to Spring (March 2021)

    East Head Hike (June 2020)

    From Virus to Human (April 2020)

    Vernal Pools (March 2020)

    The Forest for the Trees (early March 2020)

    Hike then Party (January 2020)

    Myles Standish- the Man(December 2019)

    Life in MSSF- the biggest and the smallest (Nov 2019)

    Fishing Derby and Photo Contest winners. Also Megafauna (Oct 2019)

    Summer 2019 /a>

    Winter 2018-2019- Animalia

    Free Fishing Fun

    If off the pavement, then put on the Off- June 2018

    Boardwalks, Vernal Pools and Mosquitos- May 2018

    Spring 2018

    December 2017

    May 2017

    March 2017

    Centennial Celebration

    Spring 2016

    January 2016

    December 2015

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    More Photo Contest Winners from previous years

    frog in a log
    Hello there! Photo by Kathleen O'Donnell.
    eagle with fish
    Eagle with Dinner. Photo by Steve Nikola.
    display of photos
    Winners were displayed at 2019 Fishing Derby