Dunn State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located in the towns of Hadley and South Hadley in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. The park’s 1,070 acres (430ha) include forested hillsides, glacial lakes, waterfalls, and white granite peaks including Mount Holyoke, Mount Lafayette, and Bear Mountain. It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation which protects forests throughout the region as part of an overall effort to conserve natural resources.
There are over 20 miles (32km) of trails. These trails connect with additional trail networks within the White Mountains National Recreation Area, including those on Mount Holyoke, Mount Lafayette, and across Longs Peak to the south and west. The park has four small ponds for fishing, canoeing/kayaking, and picnicking. Two of these ponds are stocked with trout. The park also features camping facilities, cabins, picnic areas, playgrounds, swimming beach, playing fields, and extensive parking. The park hosts many events, some annual festivals, such as the St. George International Cross Country Ski Races, and the Trim-Olympics. The park also played host to the 2006 Intercollegiate Championships in Snowboarding.
The park provides access points for paddling the Connecticut River and surrounding lakes. The park’s bike path connects with the Bay Circuit Trail. On Mt. Holyoke, there is a moderately difficult 3 mile climb via the Palmer Divide. At the summit, there is a moderately good view of about 40 square miles, mostly agricultural with a few houses here and there. From this vista point, it is possible to see Mount Tom, Mount Katahdin, and the distant peak known variously as Hedgehog Hill, Bald Knob, or Boneyard Hollow. Other notable nearby mountains include Camel’s Hump, Mount Washington, and Franconia Ridge. On the opposite side of the highway bridge, there is a steep uphill section to the top of Signal Hill.
This hill gets its name from the old signal tower atop it. When the interstate was being constructed, engineers erected a 400 foot tall concrete pylon sign visible from Interstate 93. However, after only 18 months, the original tower had been dismantled, and a new one was built directly adjacent to the former foundations. That tower still stands today, though it now holds wireless communication equipment. Nearby are two observation towers, one of which contains a scale model of the entire state, designed by Amherst College students studying architecture.
The park also includes the Old Stone House, a reproduction of an eighteenth century farmhouse which serves as the headquarters for the park rangers. Built on the foundation of an earlier building, the current structure is a exact duplicate of the original except for its roof, which is slate rather than shingle. The house contains period furnishings and exhibits, and is open year round. The park has campsites ranging from modern RV sites to tent camping to cabin. Each site has access to hot showers and flush toilets. Some sites can accommodate tents more easily than others, and some sites may be available all season long while others may not be available at certain times of the year. Campgrounds range from ADA accessible to non-accessible.
In 1908, Boston financier Ernest Treadway donated 500 acres to create what was then called “Treadway State Forest.” The land included Mount Holyoke, Mount Lafayette, and Bear Mountain. A gatehouse and garage were built near the present site of the ranger station; other buildings followed that housed everything from icehouses to sawmills. In 1943, during World War II, a fire department training school was established at the site with classes ending there each summer until 1949 when the camp closed. In 1951, DCR purchased 690 acres from the town of Hadley for use as a state park. Additional purchases have brought the park to its current size of 710 acres.
Otehr activities include;
- mountain biking
- horseback riding
- cross-country skiing
The park also offers a wide variety of terrain suitable for a variety of winter sports, including:
- downhill skiing
- cross-country skiing