Lake Lorraine 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 1,100 acres (4km2) include Lake Lorraine, the largest lake in an 11-mile (18km) length of narrow valley, as well as Mount Holyoke, Silver Cascade Mountain, and other peaks including Mount Katahdin and Bear Mountain. It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation which protects forests of the North American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees. In addition to hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing are popular activities at the park.
The park was closed for camping from November 30, 2010 through March 17, 2011 due to budget cuts and reopened with new campsites that allow for group tenting. A network of trails maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club passes through the park. On these trails runners have run races every summer since 1973, including the inaugural Bay Circuit Trail Run. Lake Lorraine State Park has become a very popular spot for running, walking, cycling, and general outdoor enthusiasts. There are over 50 miles (80km) of trails within the park. Some of these trails are open all year long while others close down during winter months because it is too dangerous or difficult to access.
Lake Lorraine State Park features two campgrounds, one on each shore of the lake. They contain a total of 140 campsites divided into tent/RV sites, lean-to shelters and partial hookup facilities. Half of the campsites are available on a first come first served basis but the remainder must be reserved. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. Camping costs $10 per night per vehicle. Boat launch fees are waived for those renting a cabin or room at the lodge. The park also contains four lodges, ranging from rustic cabins to modern hotels, which provide additional lodging options. Each lodge has between 4 and 16 rooms plus common areas, some even having indoor plumbing. Prices range from $20 per person per night for a regular hotel room to $40 per person for a deluxe double room.
The Group Tenting Facility allows up to 100 people to sleep in tents or small recreational vehicles. No fire rings or picnic tables are provided. Water and flush toilets are accessible nearby. This facility is only open from May through October. Cabin Rentals The 120 cabin rental complex offers many different types of accommodations. All cabins have electric heat, lights, and outlets as well as either an outside porch or patio. Most have both a shower and a bathtub. Single and double bunks can accommodate up to three guests in twin share or six guests in triple bunk beds. Children under the age of 14 may stay in any cabin without parents’ permission, however they cannot leave the property.
Campsites Open Year Round With no fee, there is plenty of space around the lake for everyone to enjoy. Over 250 acres (1km2) of land are given over to this purpose. The campground opens the second Friday in April and closes Columbus Day weekend. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Walk-in campers can register on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping costs $10 per night per vehicle. Boat Launch Fees Waived For Rental Cottages, Campsites & Lodges Those interested in fishing will find a boat launch near most of the cottages, campsites, and lodges. Fishing licenses are required and are available from the DCR offices. Hunting is permitted on about 500 acres (2km2). Hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Massachusetts Game Commission. The common game species are ruffed grouse, squirrels, white-tailed deer, turkey, pheasant, and rabbits.
As of February 22, 2008, Lake Lorraine State Park had received nearly 2 million visitors. An average of more than 200,000 visitors daily were counted at the park during 2007. Lake Lorraine State Park features numerous peaks, including Mount Holyoke (which lies almost entirely within the southern part of the park), Silver Cascade Mountain, Bear Mountain, and Westmoreland Peak. Other notable mountains visible from the park include Camel’s Hump, Mount Lafayette, and Bode Mountain. Lake Lorraine State Park hosts an annual cross country race called the Bay Circuit Trail Run. First held in 1973, the course records for men and women stand at 12 minutes 40 seconds respectively. The Bay Circuit Trail Run is considered one of America’s top 10 ultramarathons, drawing participants from across the United States and Canada.
Lake Lorraine State Park hosted the 2002 USA Cross Country Championships, attracting more than 300 elite male and female runners. The race serves as a USATF certified championship event. Lake Lorraine State Park has played host to the World Masters Flying Disc Championships twice, in 1978 and again in 1983. More than 1000 players take part in the disc golf tournament, which includes several professional athletes. The park also plays host to the annual Mt. Holyoke International Hill Climb Road Racing Championship.
The park receives its name from Lake Lorraine, created when Hurricane Diane flooded the sawmill town of Lee on August 21, 1965. The dam holding back the water was named after the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s home in New York City, where his widow, Ethel Skakel, lived until her death in 2009. The flood destroyed much of what remained of the mill village, which is now underwater. The waters held back by the dam formed a reservoir, which continues to fill annually.
The dam is monitored and serviced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who reported in September 2005 that the “concrete core” of the dam had been damaged by repeated lightning strikes, and would need to be replaced. However, repair work began in June 2006, and the new core was installed during restoration work performed in the fall of 2007. Lake Lorraine State Park was established in 1965, less than five years after the creation of Lake Katherine, another major feature of the White Mountains National Forest. Its primary mission at the time was to provide employment for the out of work lumbermen, though it soon became apparent that this forest needed protection from the wildfires which were becoming increasingly frequent throughout the region.
Legislation authorizing the purchase of land for the park passed in 1969. Land acquisition continued slowly, however, with the state government reluctant to sell land owned by residents who wanted to keep it as private property. Only after legislation allowing tax incentives for landowners willing to sell their land did the pace of acquisitions increase. Additional land along the Blackwater River was purchased in 1974, increasing the size of the park to 936 acres (378ha). Further purchases increased the park to its current 1,100 acres (430ha), with 700 acres (280ha) dedicated to conservation easements, added in 2001.
Lake Lorraine State Park provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife.
Common birds seen around the lake include :
- owls such as screech owls
- red-bellied woodpeckers
- bald eagles
Mammalian tracks that have been found around the park are: