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Connecticut State Parks

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USA Parks
Greater New Haven Region
Naugatuck State Forest
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Naugatuck State Forest Spruce Brook Falls © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest © Joseph Green
Naugatuck State Forest Upper Spruce Brook Falls High Rock © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Ghost Falls V © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Ghost Falls III © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Ghost Falls VI © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Ghost Falls IV © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Ghost Falls I © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Ghost Falls II © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Spruce Brook Falls © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Spruce Brook Falls © Gary Jordan
Naugatuck State Forest Spruce Brook Falls © Gary Jordan
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Naugatuck State Forest covers almost 5,000 acres and is spread across Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Oxford, Bethany, Hamden, Cheshire, Ansonia, and Seymour. It is organized into five Blocks, named West, East, Mt. Sanford, Quillinan Reservoir, and Great Hill.

The Forest originated with Harris Whittemore, an industrialist and member of the State Forest and Park Commission. In 1921, Mr. Whittemore began buying parcels of land in the Naugatuck Valley, intending to donate them to the State. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to realize his dream, but after his death in 1928, his family continued to acquire land, and in 1931, almost 2,000 acres were donated in his memory.

The Forest is managed for sawtimber, firewood, wildlife habitat, and recreational activities such as hiking, hunting, mountain biking, bird-watching, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
History of the Area
Naugatuck State Forest, located in Connecticut, has a rich history that dates back several centuries. Here is an overview of its historical significance and development:

1. Native American Presence: The land encompassing Naugatuck State Forest was traditionally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Paugussett and the Wepawaug, who used the area for hunting and gathering. Evidence of their presence can still be found in the form of Native American artifacts and tools.

2. Colonial Era: During the 17th and 18th centuries, European settlers arrived in the region, and the forests were utilized for timber, farming, and other natural resources. As Connecticut's population grew, the area experienced significant deforestation, leading to concerns about the destruction of the natural environment.

3. Conservation Efforts: In the early 20th century, the state of Connecticut recognized the importance of protecting its dwindling forested areas. In 1921, the state began acquiring land for conservation purposes, eventually establishing Naugatuck State Forest in 1931. The initial purchase of land focused on restoring the forested landscape and preserving the natural resources of the Naugatuck River Valley.

4. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): The establishment of Naugatuck State Forest coincided with the Great Depression, during which the federal government initiated various work relief programs. One such program was the CCC, which operated from 1933 to 1942 and employed young men to carry out conservation work. In Naugatuck State Forest, CCC Camp Co.169 was established, and its enrollees constructed forest roads, bridges, and recreational facilities. The CCC's efforts greatly contributed to the development and accessibility of the forest.

5. Recreational Development: Over the years, recreational opportunities within Naugatuck State Forest have expanded. In the 1930s, a campground and picnic areas were developed for public use. Today, visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Various trails, including the Naugatuck Trail and the Quillinan Reservoir Loop, offer scenic views and opportunities to explore the forest's diverse wildlife.

6. Forest Fire and Disaster: In 1946, a devastating fire known as the Great Hill Disaster swept through Naugatuck State Forest and surrounding areas, destroying over 16,000 acres of land. The fire was caused by a cigarette flicked from a passing car, and the dry conditions and strong winds fueled its rapid spread. This disaster prompted further efforts to protect and manage the forest more effectively to prevent future devastating fires.

Naugatuck State Forest covers approximately 4,000 acres and serves as an important natural area for wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education. It continues to be managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to ensure its preservation for future generations.
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.
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1. Whittemore Glen State Park Loop: This 4-mile loop trail is moderately trafficked and offers a variety of activities including hiking, bird watching, and nature trips.

2. High Rock Shooting Association Trail: A short but steep hike that leads to an overlook with panoramic views of the surrounding area.

3. Naugatuck Railroad Greenway Trail: An easy-to-follow path along the old railroad tracks offering scenic river views throughout its length.

4. Larkin Bridle Path-Blue Blazed Hiking Trails: These trails are perfect for horseback riding as well as walking or running; they offer beautiful forest scenery across their 9 miles stretch.

5. Beacon Cap via Mattatuck Trail - Blue Blaze Route: It's about a six mile out-and-back route which features stunning wildflowers during springtime and provides excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting year-round.

6. Quillinan Reservoir Yellow Circle & Red Square Trails: Two interconnected loops around Quillinan reservoir providing serene water vistas over approximately five miles distance each way.

7. Naugatuck Forest Orange Triangle & White Rectangle Routes: Both these routes provide challenging hikes through dense woods, rocky terrains , small streams making them ideal choices for experienced hikers.

8. Spruce Brook Ravine Waterfall Walk: Short yet rewarding walk leading up to picturesque waterfall nestled amidst lush greenery ; suitable even for beginners due it's relatively flat terrain.

9. Naugy River Valley Overlook from Hunters Mountain Road: Steep uphill climb rewarded by breathtaking view overlooking entire valley below; best visited in fall when foliage colors add extra charm to landscape panorama.

10. Mattabesett:Metacomet-Menunketesuc (MMM)Trail System: Part of this extensive network passes through Naugutack state park allowing long-distance trekkers access into diverse landscapes ranging from high ridges down low valleys.
Things To Do in the Area
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CT Bike Tours.Com, LLC - GUILFORD, CT
Family Outting
Our Shoreline Bike Boat Tour is a leisurely paced guided ride along the coast on gently rolling hills. We combine it with a narrated 45 minute boat tour of the lovely Thimble Islands. If you have your own bikes and helmets, bring them. Custom guided rides are also available. Minimum age allowed is 16 yrs. old. The bicycle guide, boat tour, bikes, helmets and refreshments are all provided, all you need is your energy
8.3 miles from park*

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
February 22 An amazingly enchanted forest retreat by Doctor Rocker
park review stars; one to five Solitude, scenery, interesting trails, amazing hikes, swimming and fishing holes, a magical wilderness, idyllic picnic potential, great date, worthwhile exploring. Love it!
July 26 Hidden gem of CT by Ron
park review stars; one to five This forest is one of the best around - cliffs looking out to scenic views, fantastic hiking, rivers and waterfalls, and almost no one goes here, why? Well, the roads are in such poor condition the state had to close them and it doesn?t look like they will plan on any improvements is near future. It?s a shame really, it a much better place to visit than Sleeping Giant.
October 4 Great place to hike
park review stars; one to five We love it here and hike different segments of the forest 5-6 times a week. It is quiet, not busy, and and has some beautiful spots if you search around a little bit. Great spot for dogs to run free to if they are friendly.
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Area Campgrounds
Lake Compounce Campground
185 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
Totoket Valley RV Park
244 Foxon Road
North Branford, CT
Gentile's Campground
223 Mount Tobe Road Route 262
Plymouth, CT

1. Start by heading onto CT:8 North from Waterbury or Bridgeport.
2. Take Exit 25 for Route 63 towards Beacon Falls/Naugatuck.
3. At the end of the ramp, turn left onto Route 63 South (Prospect Street).
4. Continue on Prospect Street until you reach a traffic circle with multiple exits; take the second exit to stay on Route 63 South (Beacon Valley Road).
5. Follow Beacon Valley Road for approximately two miles until you see signs indicating entrance into Naugatuck State Forest.

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Connecticut State Parks