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Connecticut State Parks

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Litchfield Hills Region
American Legion State Forest
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American Legion State Forest Farmington Canal Heritage Trail © Louis Galgano
Canal under bridge
American Legion State Forest Farmington River I © Gary Jordan
Fishing for trout is a favored sport here.
American Legion State Forest Austin F. Hawes Campground © Gary Jordan
This campgrounds is next to the Farmington River. There are plenty of trees and trails to hike right out your tent or camper door.
American Legion State Forest Farmington River II © Gary Jordan
Remants of old bridge
American Legion State Forest Farmington River II © Gary Jordan
Mother Nature is very well preserved along shores of the river in this area.
American Legion State Forest Austin F. Hawes Campground © Gary Jordan
Bathrooms and showers make this campground a very civil place to stay.
American Legion State Forest Farmington Canal © Louis Galgano
Canal Lock 12 and Museum.
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P.O. Box 1
Pleasant Valley, Connecticut   06063

Phone: 860-424-3200
Toll Free: 866-287-2757
Email: park email button icon
Established in 1925 to protect the streamflow at the headwaters of the Wisconsin, Flambeau and Manitowish Rivers, the Northern-Highland American Legion (NHAL) State Forest occupies more than 222,000 acres. This is the largest state property in Wisconsin and the most visited. Over two million visitors come to the state forest each year to enjoy a wide array of recreational activities.

The forest is characterized by its abundance of scenic lakes and streams. There are over 900 lakes that lie within the forest boundary and there are numerous streams and rivers. These water resources lend sports enthusiasts and recreationalists to a variety of activities on this magnificent state forest.

Hiking through the forest means seeing and appreciating the beauty of the forest, swamps, lake shores and streams. The abundance of trails throughout the forest provide an excellent way to listen to a variety of birds, to view wildlife and to observe the diverse plant species found here.

A wide variety of wildlife and bird species that occur in northern Wisconsin can be found within the forest. Common wildlife that can be seen include deer, beaver, otter, fox, coyote and black bear. Goshawks, blue jays, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, chickadees and song sparrows are just a few of the hundred or so bird species that can be seen or heard in the forest. Be sure to keep your eyes open to see a soaring bald eagle or your ears tuned in to hear a loon or two.
History of the Area
The American Legion State Forest, located in the state of Connecticut, has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. The forest was initially established in 1939 with the help of the American Legion organization and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs sought to provide employment opportunities to young men. The CCC was one of these programs, aimed at conserving and developing the nation's natural resources while also providing jobs and training.

In partnership with the American Legion, the CCC worked on various projects within the forest, including the construction of campsites, roads, and trails. The primary objective was to create recreational opportunities for the public and to improve the area's natural beauty.

The forest is located within the towns of Barkhamsted and Hartland, encompassing an area of about 890 acres. It is primarily composed of mixed hardwood forests, including oak, beech, and maple trees. The picturesque Nepaug Reservoir, part of the Metropolitan District Commission's water supply system, is also situated within the forest.

The American Legion State Forest has served as a popular destination for outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating, and picnicking. The forest's well-maintained trail system attracts hikers of all levels, leading them through the beautiful woodland scenery and offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The forest's history and legacy are still evident today, with various amenities and facilities that were established during the CCC era. These include picnic areas, campsites, a pavilion, and restroom buildings. The CCC's work in the American Legion State Forest reflects their commitment to preserving natural resources and providing recreational opportunities for the public.

The American Legion State Forest in Connecticut has a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1939. It stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of the American Legion and the CCC, providing a recreational haven for visitors to enjoy the beauty of nature and the legacy of conservation.
Connecticut has made state parks, forests, trails, historic sites and beaches more accessible to our residents so they can enjoy the many attractions and beauty they offer. Under the Passport to the Parks program, parking fees are now eliminated at Connecticut State Parks for those with Connecticut registered vehicles. You can view the CONNECTICUT PASSPORT TO THE PARKS web page to learn more.
1. Austin F. Hawes Memorial Campground: This campground is located in the American Legion State Forest and offers 30 campsites with amenities such as picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms and showers.

2. White Pines Campsites: Although not directly within the state forest but nearby it provides a variety of camping options including tent sites, RV hookups, cabins for rent etc.

3. Macedonia Brook State Park Camping Area: Again this one isn't inside the park itself but close by offering wooded campgrounds that provide an excellent base to explore both parks from.

4. Lone Oak Camp Sites: It's about half hour drive away from American Legion State Forest providing over 500 campsites ranging from full:hookup to rustic areas along with various recreational activities like swimming pool access or mini golfing facilities.

5. The Wilderness School: A little further out (about an hour's drive) has group camping available which could be ideal if you're planning on visiting with a large party.

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1. Henry Buck Trail: This trail is approximately 2.3 miles long and offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it suitable for most hikers with some experience under their belts. The path winds through dense forest areas filled with hemlock trees and features several small stream crossings.

2. Agnes Bowen Trail: A relatively easy hike at about 1 mile in length, the Agnes Bowen trail takes you on an exploration of beautiful pine forests along the Farmington River's edge.

3. Turkey Vultures Ledge Loop: This challenging loop covers around five miles across rugged terrain that includes steep inclines and declines as well as rocky sections to navigate over or around; however, your efforts are rewarded by breathtaking views from atop ledges overlooking Barkhamsted Reservoir below.

4. Tunxis Mainline Trial - White Dot Section: Spanning roughly four miles within American Legion State Forest boundaries before continuing into adjacent public lands this section provides diverse scenery including brooks, wetlands & hardwood stands.

5. Jessie Gerard Yellow Blaze Hiking Trails: Named after local conservationist Jessie Gerard these trails offer three separate loops ranging between two to six-mile lengths each covering different terrains such as marshes, ridgelines & riverbanks.

6. Robert Ross Greenway (RRG): Blue:Blazed hiking system's longest continuous footpath stretching nearly forty-miles traversing multiple state parks/forests offering varied landscapes like waterfalls, cliffsides etc., part which runs through American Legion State Forest providing ample opportunities for wildlife sightings.

7. Nature Interpretive Trail: Short half:a-mile educational walk near park office featuring informational signs explaining various aspects related flora/fauna found here ideal choice families young children / those looking quick stroll amidst nature without venturing too deep inside woods.

8. Farmington River Rail:to-Trail Path: Paved multi-use pathway following old railway line running parallel Farmington River suitable for walking, biking or rollerblading with several access points within the forest.

9. Beaver Brook Marsh Trail: This easy trail is approximately 1 mile long and takes you through a marshy area where beavers are known to reside.

10. Peoples State Forest Loop: A challenging hike of about seven miles that includes steep climbs but offers rewarding views over Barkhamsted Reservoir & surrounding hillsides.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
July 15 We go here every summer! by Sue
park review stars; one to five My family loves to hike the trails, fish different lakes and play at the Crystal Lake beach! We especially love all the bike trails! Each day we do something new! This is a great area!
May 3 kayaking, Walking trails, pet friendly by skychef
park review stars; one to five Close to town of Winsted.Stores near\by cinema. Deep in woods quiet Farmington river kayack, fish.
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Area Campgrounds
White Pines Campground
232 Old North Road
Barkhamsted, CT
Lone Oak Campsites
360 Norfolk Road
East Canaan, CT

Use Mapquest and the address below to create custom directions from you location to the forest.

Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest

DNR Woodruff Service Center

8770 Hwy J

Woodruff, WI 54568

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Connecticut State Parks