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Connecticut State Parks

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Litchfield Hills Region
Housatonic State Forest
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Housatonic State Forest Approaching Deans Ravine © Angela Hansen
This is what the terrain looks like as you approach the Deans Ravine waterfall.
Housatonic State Forest Summer hikes with mom © Angela Hansen
A child pauses to look around while hiking in Housatonic State Forest
Housatonic State Forest Springtime in Deans Ravine © Angela Hansen
Just downhill from the Deans Ravine waterfall, water burbles happily over rocks
Housatonic State Forest Deans Ravine Waterfall © Angela Hansen
The Deans Ravine waterfall is quite impressive after a morning rain, and only a 5-minute hike from the road
Housatonic State Forest Pine Swamp Brook Waterfalls © Gary Jordan
Housatonic State Forest © Ben Prepelka
Housatonic State Forest Pine Swamp Brook Waterfalls © Gary Jordan
Housatonic State Forest Pine Swamp Brook Waterfalls © Gary Jordan
Housatonic State Forest Deans Ravine through the tres © Angela Hansen
There are occasional glimpses of the stream and small cascades as you approach the Deans Ravine waterfall
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Housatonic State Forest consists of nearly 10,000 acres in 5 towns. It is the only Connecticut state forest containing part of the world-famous Appalachian Trail (AT). This trail runs for over 2,100 miles, from Georgia to Maine.

More than 3,000 acres of original purchases for the state forest were from one iron company in 1927. This gives a hint of the region?s land use history. Most of the picturesque hills that make up the topography of Housatonic State Forest were once repeatedly clearcut to feed the charcoal demands of the iron industry. Abundance of charcoal mounds across the landscape (round, flat-top mounds approximately 20 feet across) is evidence of this history. Today, the trees have re-grown, and the rugged hills of the state forest provide a panoramic backdrop for the scenic Housatonic River, producing what is arguably the most beautiful region of Connecticut.

Today, this land is a multiple-use state forest. Housatonic State Forest is managed for its diversity of native wildlife, high quality forest products, watershed protection for the Housatonic River, scientific research, a variety of recreational activities, and for the aesthetic beauty that is hard to beat anywhere else in the state. The state forest is also home to two different Connecticut Natural Area Preserves: Gold?s Pines and the Canaan Mountain Natural Area Preserve. Natural Area Preserves are established to highlight areas of special significance to our state?s natural history and to serve as refuges for rare species of plants or animals, and tend to feature noteworthy examples of natural ecosystems. Some of these Preserves require active management such as cutting or prescribed fire to maintain the unique and valuable characteristics that led to their designation.
History of the Area
Housatonic State Forest is located in the town of Cornwall, Connecticut, and is one of the oldest state forests in Connecticut. The history of Housatonic State Forest dates back to the early 20th century when the state government started acquiring land in the area to protect its natural resources and provide recreational opportunities for the public.

In 1927, the state purchased the first parcel of land that would eventually become Housatonic State Forest. Over the years, more land was acquired, leading to the expansion of the forest. The forest now spans across approximately 12,000 acres and is managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The primary goal behind creating Housatonic State Forest was to preserve the forested landscape, protect watersheds, and promote sustainable forestry practices. The forest, as well as nearby Housatonic Meadows State Park, offers various recreational activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing.

Apart from recreational activities, Housatonic State Forest also played a significant role in the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Connecticut during the 1930s. The CCC was a public work relief program established to provide employment during the Great Depression. Several CCC camps were set up in Housatonic State Forest, employing young men to carry out conservation projects like reforestation, trail construction, and forest management.

Throughout the years, Housatonic State Forest has remained an important destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Its dense forests, scenic trails, and diverse wildlife continue to attract visitors who appreciate its natural beauty and historical significance.
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. Macedonia Brook State Park: This park offers 51 campsites with a stream, picnic tables and grills available for use.

2. Housatonic Meadows Campground: Located within the forest itself, this campground provides over 90 sites in wooded or open settings along the river bank.

3. Mohawk Mountain State Forest Campgrounds: Offers primitive camping options near Cornwall Bridge area of Connecticut's northwest corner.

4. Lake Waramaug State Park Camping Area: Provides about 76 spots suitable for tents as well as RVs up to certain length limit.

5. Kent Falls State Park: While it doesn't offer traditional campsite accommodations, you can still enjoy picnicking here during your camping trip nearby.

6. Austin Hawes Memorial Campground at American Legion & Peoples' state forests: It has around thirty tent and small trailer sites which are located on west side of Farmington River.

7. Black Rock state park: The Black rock offers fifty six spaces that include four cabins.

8. Mount Tom state park: Although no overnight stays allowed but one could visit while staying somewhere else close by.
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1. Appalachian Trail: This 52-mile stretch of the famous trail runs through Housatonic State Forest, offering breathtaking views and challenging terrain for experienced hikers.

2. Mohawk Blue-Blazed Trail: A looped hiking route that spans approximately 24 miles within the forest area featuring scenic waterfalls, panoramic vistas from atop mountains like Barrack Mountain and Red Mountain.

3. Falls Village to Cornwall Bridge Section (AT): An approximate 12-mile section of the Appalachian Trail running north-south in Connecticut's northwest corner with a moderate difficulty level suitable for intermediate-level hikers.

4. Pine Knob Loop Trail: Approximately three-miles long circular path offers stunning overlooks on top of Pine Knob along with diverse flora & fauna sightings throughout its course; it is considered moderately difficult due to some steep sections but overall an enjoyable hike.

5. Caesar Brook Campsite Trails: These trails lead you towards secluded campsites by Caesar brook where one can enjoy camping amidst nature after a day-long trekking adventure.

6. Cornwall Hollow Preserve Trails: Located at southern edge of state forest these well-marked trails are perfect choice if looking forward to peaceful walk or bird watching experience under canopy cover provided by mature hardwood trees present here.

7. Breadloaf mountain trail: It's about two mile round trip which takes you up Bread Loaf Mountain providing beautiful view over surrounding landscape including river valley below.

8. Race Brook falls trail: Starting near Route US:44 this four mile out-and-back type track leads toward Racebrook falls,one among tallest waterfall series found across entire region.

9. Mount Easter Overlook Pathway: Short yet rewarding pathway leading upto Mount easter summit known widely amongst local community as 'Sunset point' owing picturesque sunset scenes visible from there.

10. Skiff mountain road pathways: Series old logging roads now converted into multi:use paths ideal not only for hiking but also for mountain biking and horseback riding..

11. Great Falls Loop Trail: Easy level 1 mile loop trail located near falls village offering beautiful views of Housatonic river along with Great falls,highest volume waterfall in state . .

12. Rattlesnake Mountain Trails: These trails offer a challenging hike up to the peak, where hikers are rewarded with panoramic vistas over surrounding landscape.

13. Pond Brook Wildlife Area Pathways: Network of multiple short pathways crisscrossing through wildlife rich area around Pond brook perfect choice if looking forward to quiet nature walk or bird watching experience.

14. Kent Falls State Park Paths: Although technically not within boundaries of Housatonic forest these paths leading upto Kent waterfalls series is worth mentioning due its close proximity & popularity among visitors.

15. Bear Mountain Summit Track: This strenuous track takes you all way upto Bear mountain summit which happens be highest point across entire Connecticut region providing unparalleled view over surroundings including distant peaks present at New York side.

16. Mount Algo Lean-to Access Route: A moderate difficulty route that leads towards Mount algo lean-to campsite popular amongst backpackers planning overnight stay inside wilderness zone.

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Area Campgrounds
Cozy Hills Campground
1311 Route 202 Bantam Road
Bantam, CT
White Pines Campground
232 Old North Road
Barkhamsted, CT
Lone Oak Campsites
360 Norfolk Road
East Canaan, CT
Hemlock Hill Camp Resort
118 Hemlock Hill Road
Litchfield, CT

1. Start by heading onto Route 7 North from Danbury or South from Great Barrington.
2. Continue on Route 7 until you reach the town of Cornwall Bridge.
3. In Cornwall Bridge, turn west onto Kent Road (Route 4).
4. Follow this road for approximately three miles until you see signs indicating the entrance to Housatonic State Forest on your left.

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Connecticut State Parks