Jen and I finally got around to exploring some more up at Laurel Lake (most of which is part of Erving State Forest) about half an hour east/northeast of us in Erving, MA. We'd been to some of the trails west of the lake before (The Chute, etc.), which are a mix of doubletrack snowmobile trails and wide forest roads, but never ventured up to the lake itself. It's just far enough away up Rte. 2 and known for being a busy state park-ish swim area that it's been off our mental radar of local outdoor adventure spots, but when we went it was nice and not too crowded and we really enjoyed it.
We parked in the big lot above the swimmer's beach, which seemed pretty sparsely occupied to me considering it was the end of a nice Labor Day weekend, and started hiking uphill on the very pleasant, mile-long Laurel Loop trail. After rising gently along a little stream, the trail passes through some dense stands of mountain laurel and climbs steadily to a set of semi-open summit ledges with views to the south. A little farther along there is a small clearing with a view north to Mt. Monadnock.
Back at the bottom, we decided to attempt a loop of the lake. We weren't really sure we'd be able to get all the way around, as there are a string of private camps along a road on the north shore that doesn't go all the way through, but sure enough there is a little path that goes through the woods above the cabin at the end of the road. On the far side, we watched some bald eagles above the causeway road, then continued west along a path called Nature Trail at the western end of the lake. This section was very pretty, undulating along the edge of the woods and passing alongside some boggy wetlands. The trail blazes split at one point, with no signage of any kind, and I'm fairly sure both options lead south to the main park road. We took the longer one that sticks close to the wetlands. At the end we just walked back along the road to the lot. Total mileage of our loop was about 3.5 miles.
I'd wanted to take a swim in Laurel Lake afterwards, but some strong storm clouds rolled in just as we got down to the beach and looked like they were ready to send down some lightning strikes. Sure enough, a few thunder booms sounded in the distance and kept me from venturing in. But it looked really nice and I'd definitely go back at a not-busy time to give it a go.