Sandisfield State Forest is comprised of several tracts of forest, York Lake being one of them. I first started hunting and fishing the Sandisfield forests when I was a teenager when the state had forest rangers on duty at the West Lake area. At that time the hunting season was only a week long and many Massachusetts residents used to travel from the eastern part of the state to enjoy the woods. The trails in the various tracts of forest were well marked, maintained and the primitive campsite at West Lake was nicely kept. The trails at York Lake were also well defined and maintained. There were miles of trails in the West Lake and Abbey Lake areas at that time.
Over the four decades since I started visiting these areas the decline in the forest supervision is very noticeable. The trails are no longer kept up and, in most locations, no longer viable or recognizable as trails. Worse, the state has allowed logging within the tracts and, from my perspective, with total disregard for the forest or the few people who still attempt to utilize this area for outdoor recreation. The logging equipment and the unused residue from the the process renders vast tracts unnavigable. The risk of breaking a limb is high. As I continue to spend my precious spare time in this area, it saddens me to see the decline in stewardship that Massachusetts is maintaining.
The ponds are still beautiful and provide good fishing spring through fall and swimming and picnicking, where allowed, for warm weather activity. Hiking can be done in much of the forests but the aid of a GPS unit or good map skills are essential without the availability of the trails. Just stay away from the logging areas for safety sake. Small boating is permitted in a few of the areas and the fishing can be good.
There is a lot of acreage to explore and a lot of wildlife to view, photograph or hunt. Parking is limited but please take the time to enjoy the beauty of these forests.