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  1. #1
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    Default Camping regulations in Massachusetts

    Quick question: Does anyone know if dispersed camping is legal in all or part of Massachusetts?

    I have hiked most of Massachusetts several times and thought that it had a "designated site only" camping regulation. I just checked both my ATC Thru hiker companion and A.W.O.L. guide and can't find mention of a state wide regulation. Any clarification or links to regulations would be appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Registered User rather.be.hiking's Avatar
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    It depends on where you are. I live right by Leominster State Forest, where there is no dispersed camping allowed, but I have seen people using dispersed camping areas many a time on and around Mount Greylock.

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    Registered User rather.be.hiking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rather.be.hiking View Post
    It depends on where you are. I live right by Leominster State Forest, where there is no dispersed camping allowed, but I have seen people using dispersed camping areas many a time on and around Mount Greylock.

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    Whoops realized my post didn't really answer the question. There are no statewide rules about dispersed camping. I have not yet found any one site listing all park policies on camping, but if you have a park in mind I find I can pretty easily find that park's website and from there find its policy on dispersed camping.

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  4. #4

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    For what its worth, some years ago we met a ridge runner in MA and asked this same question. The answer made sense but not sure how "official" it is. The designated camping area only policy is to protect private lands and is the preferred method of containing high impact activities along the AT corridor. We were encouraged to use the designated camping areas if not in a park. Some State parks allow dispersed camping but rarely mention it, at the time if it was not specifically prohibited it was allowed in the parks.

    This is old information, maybe 8 years old, but I have not seen any changes in MA AT rules that lead me to believe its changed.

  5. #5

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    On the AT, camping is only permitted at designated sites--regardless of whether you are on state park lands or federal lands. This "limits" you to 14 sites in the 90 miles of AT in Mass. This regulation was created to concentrate use at a few places that can be managed to contain impacts caused by the high number of hikers that use the Trail. In addition, the AT corridor in Mass has the highest number of rare plant sites than any other Trail state. The same policy applies to CT, NY and NJ.

    Once you pass into Vermont, and are in the National Forest, dispersed camping is in effect (similar to the southern trail states). This means camping is permitted at any location below tree line, and at least 200ft from the Trail and water sources. Anyone who has hiked in areas with dispersed camping, will quickly become aware that people do not pay much attention to this 200ft rule--unfortunately.

    Camping at appropriate sites--designated or dispersed--is a measure of one's respect for the Trail.

    Cosmo


    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    For what its worth, some years ago we met a ridge runner in MA and asked this same question. The answer made sense but not sure how "official" it is. The designated camping area only policy is to protect private lands and is the preferred method of containing high impact activities along the AT corridor. We were encouraged to use the designated camping areas if not in a park. Some State parks allow dispersed camping but rarely mention it, at the time if it was not specifically prohibited it was allowed in the parks.

    This is old information, maybe 8 years old, but I have not seen any changes in MA AT rules that lead me to believe its changed.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
    On the AT, camping is only permitted at designated sites--regardless of whether you are on state park lands or federal lands. This "limits" you to 14 sites in the 90 miles of AT in Mass. This regulation was created to concentrate use at a few places that can be managed to contain impacts caused by the high number of hikers that use the Trail. In addition, the AT corridor in Mass has the highest number of rare plant sites than any other Trail state. The same policy applies to CT, NY and NJ.
    Once you pass into Vermont, and are in the National Forest, dispersed camping is in effect (similar to the southern trail states). This means camping is permitted at any location below tree line, and at least 200ft from the Trail and water sources. Anyone who has hiked in areas with dispersed camping, will quickly become aware that people do not pay much attention to this 200ft rule--unfortunately.
    Camping at appropriate sites--designated or dispersed--is a measure of one's respect for the Trail.
    Cosmo
    The OP was looking for that regulation, frankly I would like to find that reg in writing myself. Where can I find it?

  7. #7
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
    On the AT, camping is only permitted at designated sites--regardless of whether you are on state park lands or federal lands. This "limits" you to 14 sites in the 90 miles of AT in Mass. This regulation was created to concentrate use at a few places that can be managed to contain impacts caused by the high number of hikers that use the Trail. In addition, the AT corridor in Mass has the highest number of rare plant sites than any other Trail state. The same policy applies to CT, NY and NJ.

    Once you pass into Vermont, and are in the National Forest, dispersed camping is in effect (similar to the southern trail states). This means camping is permitted at any location below tree line, and at least 200ft from the Trail and water sources. Anyone who has hiked in areas with dispersed camping, will quickly become aware that people do not pay much attention to this 200ft rule--unfortunately.

    Camping at appropriate sites--designated or dispersed--is a measure of one's respect for the Trail.

    Cosmo
    I'm guessing this only applies to tents. Or more practically speaking, it should.


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  8. #8

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    302 CMR 12.05(3): No person shall camp along the Appalachian Trail except in designated campsites, camping structures or shelter areas.

    Cosmo

  9. #9

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    302 CMR 12.02, Defitions: Camping means the utilization of any piece of equipment for sleeping in or upon, for the purpose of occupying a portion of DCR property, land or water for transient and temporary outdoor living.

    So I suppose if you just lay down n your clothes and slept someplace, you technically would not be "camping"--at least as Farr as DCR is concerned.

    Cosmo

  10. #10
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Established camps aren't made for hammocks. I guess I would respectfully not comply.


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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    Established camps aren't made for hammocks. I guess I would respectfully not comply.
    There are suitable trees in the designated camping areas, so there is no reason not to comply.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  12. #12
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    I figure so. Still, not the point.

    Isn't the AT corridor it's own entity?


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    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  13. #13
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    I figure so. Still, not the point.

    Isn't the AT corridor it's own entity?


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    The A.T. corridor is not its own entity, it is a collaboration of over 200 different property owners including Federal, State, and local governments, multiple non-profits, and various private property owners. Much of the trail passes over private land through easements. This is less of an issue down South where most of the trail is on federal land, but is much more common in the northern half of the trail.
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  14. #14
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    Thank you all for your feedback by the way.

    Cosmo, I thank you for the citations as well.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
    302 CMR 12.05(3): No person shall camp along the Appalachian Trail except in designated campsites, camping structures or shelter areas.

    Cosmo
    Perfect, thanks!

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