RANDOLPH (CBS) – There’s a year-round campground just outside of Boston that’s a hidden gem, even at 100 years old.
It’s Appalachian Mountain Club’s Ponkapoag Camp in Randolph.
“People don’t realize what’s here. Before I came, I didn’t realize what was here,” camp chair Dennis Maher told WBZ-TV.
What’s here is twenty rustic cabins, quietly tucked away in the Blue Hills Reservation, dotting the shore of Ponkapoag Pond. No electricity, no running water, just a few outhouses.
“You do have to bring your own water, your own food and cook with a small propane stove, so it is ‘roughing it.’ I think getting back to that part of living gets you more in touch with the outdoors,” said Maher.
Maher has volunteered at the camp for the last 30 years and knows the cabins inside and out. Each one is named after the family who built it. Cabins have beds but not bedding, and those with wood-burning stoves can be rented year-round.
“The idea of having the wood stove going, having an evening in the cabin reading is always fun,” Maher shared.
Back in the 1920’s the Appalachian Mountain Club was looking to build a camp within commuting distance of Boston where they could practice boating, fishing, and snowshoeing.
At just 13 miles from downtown Boston, with 230 acres of waterfront, they settled on Ponkapoag Pond.
“They saw the hillside and noticed the breeze from the pond comes up here and cools this hilltop in the summertime so that’s kind of how it started,” Maher explained.
Campers can stay in original chestnut log cabins from the 1920’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And there’s no shortage of winter activities at Ponkapoag, from hiking trails, to wildlife and ice skating on the pond.
“There’s a thing they call ‘Ponk Magic.’ They’re here a week and by the end of the week they’re running around in the woods, getting dirty, playing ‘capture the flag’, and ‘hide and seek’ and swimming in the pond and they don’t want to leave,” said Maher. “It’s a little bit of heaven right here in Randolph.”
Camp Ponkapoag is entirely volunteer run. Instructions on how to book a cabin can be found here.