You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

Connecticut State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
River Valley Region
Shenipsit State Forest
Robin ©
Afternoon Hike ©
Availability Search
Shenipsit State Forest, nestled in the picturesque state of Connecticut, is a captivating natural haven that enchants visitors with its scenic beauty and diverse ecological wonders. Spanning over 7,000 acres, this forest boasts majestic woodlands, tranquil streams, meandering trails, and stunning vistas, captivating the hearts of nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. Home to an abundance of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, and various bird species, Shenipsit State Forest provides a soul-soothing retreat for those seeking respite from the bustling city life. With its serene ambiance, lush greenery, and meandering footpaths, this forest offers an immersive experience in Connecticut's natural splendor, leaving an indelible mark on all who wander through its enchanting trails.
Nature of the Area
Shenipsit State Forest, located in Connecticut, embodies the captivating beauty of the state with its diverse natural offerings. Spanning over 7,000 acres, this enchanting forest showcases the epitome of New England landscapes, featuring rolling hills, dense woodlands, pristine lakes, and meandering streams. The forest boasts an extensive trail system that offers hikers and nature enthusiasts a chance to explore the serene surroundings, observe wildlife, and immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance of the region. Shenipsit State Forest truly captures the essence of Connecticut's natural splendor, providing a tranquil escape and a true sanctuary for those seeking solace in nature.
History of the Area
Shenipsit State Forest is located in Stafford, Ellington, and Somers, Connecticut. It covers a total area of about 7,200 acres and is named after the Shenipsit tribe of Native Americans who once resided in the region.

The history of Shenipsit State Forest dates back to the early 1900s when the state of Connecticut purchased the land for conservation purposes. The forest was established by the State Forest Commission in 1927, making it one of the oldest state forests in Connecticut.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was active in Shenipsit State Forest. The CCC was a work relief program that provided employment to young, unemployed men. They constructed firebreaks, roads, and recreational facilities within the forest, which greatly contributed to its development.

The forest has a rich history of logging as well. Large-scale timber harvesting occurred in the early 1900s, and several sawmills operated within the forest until the 1960s. Some remnants of these sawmills can still be found today.

In addition to its historical significance, Shenipsit State Forest offers various recreational activities for visitors. There are numerous trails winding through the forest, which attract hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Additionally, the forest is a popular spot for hunting, fishing, camping, and picnicking.

Over the years, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has made efforts to preserve and manage the forest. They have implemented sustainable forestry practices to maintain the health and diversity of the ecosystem, as well as protect the wildlife habitats within the forest.
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. Shenipsit Lake Campground: Located within the state forest, this campground offers primitive camping sites with access to Shenipsit Lake. There are no amenities such as electricity or water hookups, but the tranquil surroundings and beautiful lake views make it a popular choice for nature enthusiasts.

2. Gay City State Park: This park is adjacent to Shenipsit State Forest and offers a variety of recreational activities, including camping. There are both primitive and RV campsites available, with amenities such as pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. The park also has a swimming area, trails for hiking and biking, and fishing opportunities.

3. Case Mountain Recreational Area: Located just south of Shenipsit State Forest, Case Mountain offers primitive camping in designated dispersed camping areas. Campers must obtain a free permit from the Manchester Land Conservation Trust before camping. This area is popular among hikers and mountain bikers due to its extensive trail system.

4. Blackledge River Campground: Situated about 20 minutes from Shenipsit State Forest, this privately-owned campground offers tent and RV camping options. It has amenities such as electricity, water, picnic tables, fire pits, and bathrooms with showers. The campground is set along the Blackledge River and provides a peaceful setting for camping.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
Search for a vacation rental
Shenipsit State Forest in Connecticut offers various fishing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The forest encompasses Shenipsit Lake, a popular spot for fishing. Shenipsit Lake is known for its abundant populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, and panfish. Anglers can also find opportunities for trout fishing in the numerous streams and rivers that flow through the forest. Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, Shenipsit State Forest provides a serene and beautiful backdrop for a day of fishing in Connecticut.

1. Deer Hunting: Hunting is allowed during specific seasons for both archery and firearms. Hunters must possess the appropriate licenses and follow all state regulations.

2. Turkey Hunting: Depending on the designated hunting season, turkeys can be hunted during either spring or fall. Hunters must have the appropriate permits and follow all state regulations.

3. Small Game Hunting: This includes hunting for species such as rabbit, squirrel, and grouse. Hunters must have the necessary licenses and follow state regulations for small game hunting.

4. Waterfowl Hunting: Limited areas within the Shenipsit State Forest may be open for waterfowl hunting during the designated season. Hunters must have the appropriate licenses and permits and adhere to state regulations.

5. Migratory Bird Hunting: Regulations for migratory bird hunting, including species such as ducks and geese, are established by federal and state authorities. Hunters must follow all applicable laws and have the appropriate hunting permits and stamps.

It is important for hunters to check the specific regulations and restrictions set by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) each year, as they may vary.
1. Shenipsit Trail: This is a 41-mile long trail that runs through the forest, offering hikers stunning views of Connecticut's landscape.

2. Soapstone Mountain Loop: A moderate difficulty level hike spanning about 3 miles with an elevation gain of approximately 400 feet; it features beautiful wildflowers and wildlife sightings.

3. Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails: These trails are well-marked paths leading to various scenic spots within the state forest including waterfalls, rock formations, and overlooks.

4. Lookout Tower Trail: An easy half mile walk up to an old fire tower which provides panoramic views over Hartford city skyline on clear days.

5. Bald Knob Circuit: It's a short but steep climb taking you around two hours round trip where one can enjoy spectacular vistas from atop this rocky outcrop in all seasons.

6. Ridge Walk North/South Loops: Two separate loop hikes each covering roughly five miles featuring diverse terrain such as wetlands, hardwood forests and glacial erratics.

7. Snipsic Lake Viewpoint: Short offshoot from main trail providing serene lake view perfect for picnics or bird watching.

8. Case Pond Loop: Easy three mile circuit suitable for families encircling picturesque pond teeming with aquatic life.

9. Birch Mountain Brook Overlook: Steep ascent rewarded by tranquil brook setting ideal spot for restful contemplation amidst nature sounds.

10. Frog Hollow Road Crossing: Convenient access point midway along Shenipsit trail allowing shorter day trips into heartland of State Forest.

11. Bear Swamp Area: Remote section known more challenging hiking due rugged topography yet abundant in unique flora fauna species making worth effort.
Shenipsit State Forest in Connecticut provides several birding options for bird enthusiasts. With over 7,000 acres of land, the forest offers a diverse range of habitats, from open fields and meadows to dense woodlands and wetlands. Birders can explore the network of trails that wind through the forest, providing opportunities to spot a variety of bird species.

One popular birding spot in Shenipsit State Forest is the Shenipsit Trail, which stretches for about 50 miles and passes through the entire forest. Along the trail, birders may encounter species such as American Woodcock, Eastern Towhee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and various species of woodpeckers. The forest also provides breeding grounds for a range of migratory birds, including the Scarlet Tanager and the Blackburnian Warbler.

For those interested in observing wetland bird species, the Shenipsit State Forest offers access to the Upper Bolton Lake, which features a diverse array of waterfowl, wading birds, and other aquatic species. This area is particularly attractive during the spring and fall migration seasons.

Birders looking for a more focused birding experience can visit Laurel Marsh, which is within the Shenipsit State Forest. Laurel Marsh is a bird sanctuary that is home to a variety of water-loving birds, including herons, egrets, and shorebirds. The marsh provides an ideal habitat for these species, making it a great location for bird watching.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
write a review
Share On

Area Campgrounds
Sun Valley Beach Club
51 Old Springfield Road
Stafford, CT
Mineral Springs Family Campground
135 Leonard Road
Stafford Springs, CT
Brialee RV & Tent Park Inc
174 Laurel Lane
Ashford, CT
Roaring Brook Cooperative Campground
Route 190 8 South Road
Stafford Springs, CT

1. Start by heading onto I-84 East or West (depending on your starting location) and take Exit 68 for CT-195 towards Tolland/Mansfield.

2. Proceed onto CT-195 North and continue for about 4 miles until you reach a roundabout.

3. At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Merrow Road/CT-195 North.

4. Follow Merrow Road/CT-195 for approximately 6 miles until you reach the Tolland Green.

5. At the Tolland Green, continue straight onto Tolland Stage Road/CT-74 East.

6. Continue on CT-74 East for approximately 8.5 miles until you reach Storrs Downtown.

7. In Storrs Downtown, take a left onto CT-195 North/CT-32 North and continue for about 2 miles.

8. Then, turn right onto Buckley Highway/CT-44 East.

9. Follow CT-44 East for approximately 6.5 miles until you pass by Soapstone Mountain on your left.

10. Soon after passing Soapstone Mountain, you will find the entrance to Shenipsit State Forest on your left. Look for signs indicating the forest entrance.

state route ranger badge

Connecticut State Parks