Moore State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located in the towns of Paxton and Westfield, Massachusetts. The park’s 1,000 acres (400ha) include forested hills, open meadows, wetlands, glacial erratics, ponds, rolling fields, and several historic sites related to author Louisa May Alcott and her family. It was established as a Commonwealth Forest Reserve in 1919, with the purchase by the state of land from railroad magnate Oliver Peabody.
On October 31, 2007, the newly christened Louisa May Alcott State Park opened for recreational access with over 200 acres available. The state owns 405 acres of land and another 267 are owned by the non-profit Friends of Moore State Park. There are also additional parcels held privately by individuals that have been donated to the park. The park has no phone, no visitor facilities, and no entry fees. Access is via Rt 2/Maine Rd 44 west of Paxton center and east of Mansfield. Parking is easy along side Rt 2 with ample room for trailers. No permit is required for dogs or horses. The only animals allowed off lead are horses and they must be kept below treeline. No hunting is permitted at Moore State Park.
In 1927, the Forest School was founded on its grounds. During the 1930s, work began on what would become one of America’s first ski resorts at nearby Mount Holyoke. After World War II veterans were welcomed as part of their readjustment, many stayed at Mt. Holyoke resort instead of returning home to the Pacific Northwest. This resulted in the development of an entirely new industry based around seasonal employment for thousands of young people who could not find jobs during the Great Depression.
Known today as the “Ski Capital of New England,” it became the site of alpine racing, figure skating events, and even a stunt skiing show called Epic Movie. While these ventures failed to last, the ski school operated continuously until 1982 when it closed due to lack of students. However, the school reopened in 1985 under the direction of Pat O’Gara and within a few years had grown to nearly 100 students per class. A second ski slope was added in 1990 which brought the total vertical drop to 350 feet (110m). With this addition, the ski hill became known as Ski Moore Mountain. The mountain remained undeveloped except for maintenance equipment and snowmaking infrastructure until 2003 when the town of Paxton received a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to develop a master plan for the conservation of natural resources in their town. Based upon that plan, the state acquired more than 300 acres through the purchase of 204 deeds between 2004 and 2008.
Typical outdoor activities include:
- cross-country skiing
- horseback riding