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Connecticut State Parks

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USA Parks
Litchfield Hills Region
Peoples State Forest
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Peoples State Forest Big Springs © Gary Jordan
The park is littered with recreation areas giving everyone the chance to come and enjoy themselves, be it hiking, picnicing, or just to enjoy nature.
Peoples State Forest Skyward Gaze © Gary Jordan
A view looking straight upward.
Peoples State Forest Picnic Area © Gary Jordan
This is one of the many spots you can pull the car over and and have a picnic. It has a view of the mountains in the background.
Peoples State Forest John Stocking Recreation Area © Gary Jordan
This area is desginated as a picnic area for the public
Peoples State Forest Information Sign © Gary Jordan
The sign tells of the many diverse activities available at this state park.
Peoples State Forest Chaugham Lookout © Gary Jordan
This is a splendid view overlooking the Farmington river.
Peoples State Forest Scenic Overlook © Gary Jordan
1,000 foot climb from the 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. To aviod such a climb find the trail in the middle of the park and start there. It is not well marked from the road so keep your eyes peeled.
Peoples State Forest The Stone Museum inside © Gary Jordan
The museum exhibits taxidermy specimens native to the area. Other exhibits feature artifacts from Indian and colonial sites in the area. Three dioramas show events in the history of Peoples Forest.
Peoples State Forest The Stone Museum © Gary Jordan
This Museum was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps CCC. Old rock walls from the area were used in the construction of the outside walls and the fireplace. The interior woodwork is American Chestnut taken from trees killed in a local blight.
Availability Search
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.
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 Hawes Campground: This is the main campground within Peoples State Forest, offering 30 campsites with picnic tables and fire pits available at each site. There are also restrooms and showers for campers to use.

2. American Legion State Park: While not directly in People's State Forest, this nearby state park offers additional camping options including tent sites as well as cabins that can be rented out.

3. Macedonia Brook State Park: Another option close by which provides a more primitive camping experience with over 50 different campsites spread throughout the forested area of the park.

4. Mount Misery Campground & Cabins: Located just outside of People's state forest but still very accessible from it, they offer both cabin rentals or traditional campsite spots.

5. White Pines Campsites: A family oriented vacation spot located near people's state forests where you could enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, hiking etc alongwith your stay.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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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.
Area Attractions
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.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
September 28 Goldilocks and the three Bears by Melody
park review stars; one to five What a beautiful outing. Out in the trails while resting and drinking some water a mother bear and two cubs make some noise behind me. It was amazing. After they moved off i moved to another part of the trails and happened upon 2 more bears. Heading back i heard coyotes. It was amazing.
August 22 Shelter Parking Costly by Toppervin
park review stars; one to five I reserved the shelter for a family reunion. The day was beautiful but was marred by the parking fee arrangements. The cost of parking ($15 for out of state and $9 for instate) was not posted on the website. I attempted to make arrangement with the guard to keep a tally of attendees cars so that I could pay the parking fees at once. Their policy is that payment be made for each car as it enters the park. I ended up spending two and a half hours at the gatehouse greeting guests and paying the fee (no credit cards are accepted). Thus, costing me time away from the activities. The shelter and surrounding grounds were well suited for our activities. We played volley ball, bean toss, and other field games and the kids enjoyed finding smooth rocks in the river to paint. Also, we brought trash bags since there are no trash bins at the site. I would not schedule another event at Peoples Forest unless there are better parking arrangements.
June 24 Shelter Problems by Cwolfe
park review stars; one to five Beautiful park but..... We came to the park for a family picnic, it was raining so we used the parks only shelter - took only one picnic table, started a fire in the fireplace and got the food going, We were all enjoying our picnic when a group of people came in at 6:00 pm and told us we had to get out they had reserved the shelter for a wedding. They paced back and forth until we gave up our fire - packed up all our stuff and left. We had to pack up so fast that a cake we had got crushed in the process. There were NO signs at all saying the area was reserved and for what time and no ranger in sight. I am sure they were surprised and unhappy that somone was in the shelter that they had rented for 250.00 per day ( the whole day ) and we were VERY upset we had to leave in the middle of our family time. To be curtious to others in the park they SHOULD BY RIGHT POST A NOTE OF RESERVATION AND THE TIME OF for all to know! Its called being curtious! They got their money and that was that.
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Area Campgrounds
White Pines Campground
232 Old North Road
Barkhamsted, CT
Lone Oak Campsites
360 Norfolk Road
East Canaan, CT

Peoples State ForestOff Route 44: take Route 318 in Barkhamsted. Go across the steel bridge and take an immediate left onto West River Road. The recreation area is approximately 1 mile up on the left.

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Connecticut State Parks