I did my residency in Hartford, Connecticut, and my husband grew up in the area, so we have an affinity for it. We wanted to spend a day with my friend, Karen, who lives here. She knows I love ice cream and nature, so she suggested a day at Granville State Forest. We had a relaxed day in this quiet, forest removed from crowds and cities.
Granville State Forest
This northern hardwood-conifer forest was the home of the Tunxis Indians.
Granville State Forest lies just over the border from Connecticut in the Berkshire foothills of Western Massachusetts. If you prefer basic camping in the woods, this forest is a perfect spot to camp for a few days. Since Granville is just under two hours’ drive from Boston, it makes an ideal day trip from Boston to escape into nature. It also lies less than an hour from Hartford and Springfield. While here, you can hike up a river, see waterfalls, and enjoy natural pools.
The star of this state forest is the Hubbard River. The water flows around small and large stones, in places shallow enough to wade through exploring the underwater nature, and in others plenty deep for swimming. At points up the river, they are vertical enough to form waterfalls. Of course, the water level depends on the season.
Where to Park to Enjoy the Hubbard River
There is a free parking lot on West Hartland Road inside the forest where you can park to hike up the river. From the parking lot, go to the concrete bridge, and you will see the river right below it. We headed up to the right from the bridge.
Dogs are allowed on leash in the forest.
How to Hike the Hubbard River
There are a few choices for hiking along the river. There is a 6.1-mile trail that climbs 482 feet running alongside both sides of the river. It is relatively flat.
The other option if the water is low is to travel up the banks and rocks of the river. That is what we decide to do and loved it. Because we took this route, we were able to notice all the animals in the river and flowers along its banks. If you walk through the water, be sure to bring water shoes or, like me, Keens sandals.
There are five sets of water cascades along the river.
Camping in Granville State Forest
While we weren’t able to camp on this visit, we were able to see the campground. If you want noncrowded camping in a forest, this place is worth checking out. This is the way that I prefer to camp.
Make a camping reservation in Granville State Forest here.
If you have burned off enough calories in Granville State Forest, you deserve ice cream, and Granville, Massachusetts, has you covered.
Gran-Val Scoop Ice Cream
223 Granby Road, Granville, MA
I have traveled the world searching for fabulous ice cream, and the ice cream at Gran-Val is undoubtedly memorable.
Gran-Val Scoop ice cream is sold on a farm owned by the family for over 100 years. For 30 years, they have been making ice cream. The ice cream is rich, and they have many unique flavors, including seasonal ones. While waiting for your ice cream, you can check out the cute farm animals on display. The servings are tiny, but that is appropriate for quality ice cream. If you are looking for a large serving order a size larger than you usually do.
On the day I visited, I had Maple Cinnamon Crumble, which makes my list of the best ice cream in the world and a stroopwafels ice cream recently sourced from the Netherlands. Entirely unexpected for rural Massachusetts.
It is hard to beat a day with a great friend, family, beautiful nature, and ice cream. I hope that you enjoy Granville State Forest as much as we did.