Pinewood Lodge Campground offers rustic accommodations in a tranquil forest setting.By Chris Reagle | Photography by Dan Cutrona
Summer may be over, but the fires are still burning at Pinewood Lodge Campground in West Plymouth. Driving along Carver Road, a traveler can easily miss the sign for the family-owned campground, which is tucked deep in the woods beside a tranquil lake. Owned and operated by the Saunders family for the past 65 years, the enchanting 55-acre campground, function hall and RV service sit on a 215-acre parcel of land that has been in their family since at the late 1700s.
Originally, the family used the property as a hunting estate and tree lot before making it their year-round residence in the early 1960s. The business is now run by Jim Saunders and his two brothers, Jack and Jeff, who all spent their childhoods growing up in the idyllic forest setting.
The property has been a campground since 1962, but it had been a lodge and function hall 10 years prior to that, thanks, literally, to forces of nature. In fact, according to the Saunders family narrative, it took two hurricanes—one in 1938 and another in 1944—knocking over hundreds of tall white pines on the property to make the Saunders brothers’ father and grandfather, both named Albert, decide to build the big lodge function hall because they needed to do something with all the fallen timbers on the property. The lodge now houses a large function space, a camp general store and a bar overlooking shimmering Pinewood Lake.
The Saunders brothers still live on the family property and have raised their families there. “It was a perfect place to grow up,” says Jim. “My mother would ring a great big bell that hung in our breezeway when she wanted us to come inside.”
What started as nine campsites in 1962 grew incrementally until 1982, when the family made its first major addition by adding 30 full-service campsites. The brothers have overseen further expansion and modernization, including WI-FI and cable TV.
The rolling terrain of the campground contains numerous small park areas with names like Lady Slipper Park and Horseshoe Hill, pavilions, playgrounds and playing courts. There are simple tent campsites and RV hookups with access to laundry, shower and bathroom facilities, as well as efficiency cabins and yurts (a rounded structure with a solid base and canvas roof and sides).
The soft, rolling pine needle-carpeted landscape leads down to 30,000 square feet of sandy beachfront on Pinewood Lake, a 50-acre body of water that surrounds a six-acre island owned by the Saunders family. The campground rents boats for pleasure paddlers and those who want to fish.
There is a total of 300 campsites, with 100 sold seasonally, from May through October. “Some campers have been coming here for generations,” says Saunders. “We have people who spent childhood summers here and come back as adults and rent space next to their parents.”
Saunders credits his family’s longevity in the campground business to their ability to work together. Everybody has a role and function. Meghan Saunders Block, Jeff’s eldest daughter, and Brian Saunders, Jim’s eldest son, are among the fifth generation of the Saunders family being groomed to take over the business. Block, a married mother of a 4-year-old and a 1 ½-year-old, has taken over a good deal of the campground’s marketing and social media, while her cousin Brian is full-time director of operations, managing a staff of 32 that includes numerous cousins.
With the pressure of land developers ever present, Saunders says that he and his brothers are resolved to keep their ancestral land pristine and limit development to what it takes to support the campground.
“I have at least two offers on my desk right now,” says Saunders of the proposals to buy his family’s land. “When I was 18 I had a guy come in with a suitcase of more money than I had ever seen. But what would I do with that money? I’d probably buy another place like this, so why bother?”
For more information or to make a reservation, call 508-746-3548, visit pinewoodlodge.com.
2017 CAMPGROUND RENTAL FEES
Yurts – $94 (nightly); $357 (three-day holiday weekends).
Yurt includes electricity, futon, bunk bed, tables and chairs.
Log Cabins – $126 (nightly); $453 (three-day holiday weekend). Cabin includes one full-size bed and one bunk bed, efficiency kitchen, bathroom with shower, cable TV and a porch.
Deluxe Log Cabins – $159 (nightly); $552 (three-day holiday weekends). Cabin includes one full-size bed, one bunk bed, a futon, kitchen, living area, bathroom, cable TV and AC/heater.
Lakeside Cottage – $159 (nightly); $552 (three-day holiday weekends). Cottage includes full kitchen, full bath, one full/twin bunk bed, A/C-heater and cable TV. Screened porch at rear overlooks Pinewood Lake.
Lake House – $195 (nightly); $660 (three-day holiday weekend). House includes full kitchen, 1 ½ baths, two bedrooms, a living room, heat and cable TV and a spectacular view of
* All rentals have an outdoor charcoal grill, some cookware and utensils, an outdoor picnic table and a fieldstone fire pit. Linens must be brought from home or may be rented for a nominal fee.