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BEARTOWN STATE FOREST

Beartown Backcountry exists as a partnership between WMass Backcountry Alliance (WMBA) and the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).  This unique winter recreation area, located entirely within the Beartown State Forest, returns skiers once again to the north facing slopes of the former Beartown Ski Resort in South Lee. 

 

The original ski area opened in 1936, after trails were cleared by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) companies 108 and 112 as part of FDR's New Deal program of public work projects.  The upper slopes of the three main trails, Polar, Kodiak and Grizzly, were cut to challenge all takers and today remain just as intimidating even with the advantage of modern equipment.

By the time the resort closed permanently in 1964, the famous Snow Trains had long ceased passenger service to Beartown's base, and public interest turned toward other mountains with better services and modern lifts (Beartown only ever had surface lifts, including the notoriously steep Upper Rope Tow, which is now a skiable chute).  Over the next fifty years, the forest overtook the mountain and the trails soon vanished into the history books. 

 

However in 2019, a small group of local skiers began researching to locate the margins of those original CCC-cut trails with the hope of making Beartown skiable once more.  In the Fall of 2021, WMass Backcountry Alliance, working with MA DCR, organized the first of several community trail work days and officially began management of Beartown as an entirely self-powered backcountry ski zone.  Now, with a dedicated uphill skin track on Panda Road, and the three main trails clear for public use, we are proud to be a part of the journey that brings Beartown alive again, and returns it to its roots---when every skier climbed the mountain to ski the trails.

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