Four season fun can be found at American Legion/Peoples State Forests which offer the region's finest fishing, hunting and winter sporting activities nestled amid the wooded splendor.
History of the Area
Peoples State Forest is located in the Pleasant Valley section of Barkhamsted. The forest was established in 1924 through the efforts of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association which coordinated subscriptions for donations. The donations came from citizens groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Connecticut Federation of Women's Clubs and many other groups and individuals who purchased land and donated it to the people of Connecticut for approximately $8.00 an acre. The West Branch of the Farmington River, designated as a Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service, is the center point of river-based recreational activities including trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Other attractions include the 200 year old white pine picnic groves in the Matthies Grove and Whittemore Recreation Areas, over 11 miles of hiking trails, the Barkhamsted Lighthouse and other cultural and historic sites. See American Legion State Forest for nearby camping opportunities.
Agnes Bowen Trail (Orange): Starts at the Museum and proceeds north to the James Stocking Recreation Area, crossing the Pack Trail near Beaver Brook, to Beaver Swamp; follows Beaver Brook Road for several hundred feet, proceeding westerly to a crossing of Greenwoods Road, and southerly to East River Road, about a mile north of the starting point. The trail is a traditional 1930's ski trail. Distance - 2.5 miles.
Charles Pack Trail (Yellow): Starts at Greenwoods Road north of the James Stocking Area; runs southeasterly crossing the Bowen Trail near Beaver Brook; crosses the brook and leads northerly past an old cellar hole, crossing Pack Grove Road, and through Pack Grove to cross the road again at Beaver Brook Bridge; then, running northwesterly to the recreation area on Greenwoods Road. Distance - 1.9 miles.
Elliott Bronson Trail (Red): Starts at Greenwoods Road near the Museum, runs through the southern portion of the forest crossing a 60' cliff with a good view; terminates on a town road near Route 181. Distance - 1.5 miles.
Jessie Gerard Trail (Yellow): Starts at East River Road near the old Indian Settlement known as Barkhamsted Lighthouse. The right trail fork goes through the lighthouse site and continues northerly to the Chaugham Lookouts. The left trail fork climbs more directly to the overlooks by 299 stone steps. The views from this area are some of the best in the state. Continuing north, the trail passes between the Veeder Boulders to the picnic area on Greenwoods Road. Distance - 1.3 miles.
Robert Ross Trail (Blue): Starts at the end of Warner Road, runs westerly to the Jessie Gerard Trail; and then southerly along the west side of the ridge, to the end of King Road; proceeds to the Museum and westerly to East River Road. Distance - 2 miles.
Seasonal interpretive programs are based at the Stone Museum, a nature museum, open weekends between Memorial Day and Columbus Day offering displays on forestry, mammals, Native American culture, and local history. Several guided hikes are offered from May through October.