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Connecticut State Parks

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USA Parks
River Valley Region
Meshomasic State Forest
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Meshomasic State Forest began as 70 acres, acquired for $105.00 in 1903. It was the first State Forest in Connecticut and in New England, and the second in the country (Pennsylvania had the first). Meshomasic State Forest now exceeds 9,000 acres in the towns of Portland, East Hampton, Glastonbury, Marlborough, and Hebron.

The forest was originally purchased was to provide private landowners with examples of good forest management practices. During the Great Depression (1930?s) two Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps were located on the forest. It was the CCC who built most of the gravel roads on the forest.

Today, about 75 acres per year are harvested. This is a sustainable rate of harvest that also increases biodiversity in the forest and makes the forest more resistant to such disasters as uncontrolled wildfire and destructive insect outbreaks.

Eight miles of gravel roads are open in the forest for summer driving. The Shenipsit Blue Trail traverses the length of the forest. Rainwater from over half the forest drains into the Portland Reservoir. The largest known population of timber rattlesnakes in Connecticut is located on the forest.

Management goals include maintaining a quality supply of water for the Portland town reservoir and protection of timber rattlesnake habitat. Meshomasic State Forest also continues in its role as a showplace for proper timber management.
History of the Area
Meshomasic State Forest is located in central Connecticut and is one of the largest state forests in the state. Its history dates back to the early 19th century when the land was used for farming and logging.

In the early 1800s, the area was primarily agricultural, with settlers clearing land and tilling the soil for crops. However, due to the poor soil quality and rocky terrain, farming was not particularly successful.

As a result, the land was eventually abandoned by the farmers, and the forest started to regenerate naturally. By the mid-1800s, the state recognized the importance of maintaining forests for timber, water conservation, and wildlife habitat. In 1899, legislation was passed authorizing the state to acquire lands for the establishment of state forests.

In 1903, thanks to this legislation, the State of Connecticut purchased several parcels of land in the towns of Portland, East Hampton, Marlborough, and Glastonbury, which would eventually become the Meshomasic State Forest.

Over the years, the state continued acquiring more land for the forest, both through direct purchases and donations. Today, the forest covers over 9,000 acres and is managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for multiple uses, including timber production, recreation, and conservation.

Meshomasic State Forest offers a wide range of recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching. The forest also contains several trails, including sections of the blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail and the Airline State Park Trail.

In recent years, the DEEP has worked on various conservation initiatives within the forest, focusing on protecting water resources, wildlife habitats, and maintaining a healthy and sustainable forest ecosystem.

Meshomasic State Forest has evolved from agricultural land to a valuable natural resource for Connecticut, providing recreational opportunities and serving as an important ecological and timber resource for the state.
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.
Nearby Accommodations
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BBs / Inns
Located along the CT Shoreline midway between New York City and Boston, and only one hour from Hartford, with tons of local attractions both on the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River.
18.7 miles from park*
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1. Shenipsit Trail: This is a 41-mile long trail that runs through the forest, offering hikers stunning views of Connecticut's landscape.

2. Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails: These trails are well-marked and maintained by volunteers from the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA). They offer varying levels of difficulty for all types of hikers.

3. Meshomasic State Forest Loop Trail: A moderate level hiking loop covering approximately 6 miles with an elevation gain around 800 feet; it offers beautiful wildflowers during spring and summer months.

4. Glastonbury Wilderness Area Trails: Located within the state forest, these trails provide opportunities to explore diverse habitats including wetlands, forests and rocky ridges.

5. Portland Reservoir Pathway: An easy walking path along reservoirs in southern part of this state park which provides scenic water views throughout its length.

6. Cobalt Mine Track: It's a historical pathway leading towards old cobalt mines providing glimpses into past mining activities while also showcasing local flora fauna.

7. Lookout Point Trail: As name suggests, this track leads up to lookout point giving panoramic view over entire region.

8. White Oak Swamp Walk: A short walk taking you across swampy areas where one can spot various bird species especially during migratory season.

9. Great Hill Pond Road: Ideal for family hikes as it has picnic spots near pond area making perfect place relax after hike.

10. Buckingham Reservoir Route: Another waterside route featuring serene landscapes ideal nature lovers who prefer less strenuous walks.
Things To Do in the Area
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Explore the Connecticut River aboard the R/V River Quest, an environmentally friendly 64', 60 passenger vessel docked at Eagle Landing State Park, Haddam, CT.
11.5 miles from park*

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
May 11 State Forest Under Threat
park review stars; one to five Please help save our forest. A state proposal has been made to acquire 30 acres of the state forest for a development. We will be so sad to loose such a big part of our state forest and precious heritage. Please read the news on Thank you!
November 25 a beautiful New England rugged spot by marc difazio
park review stars; one to five awesome New England Forest. pretty trees, ponds/lakes, great running trails as well as dirt roads. some cool ruins too. wear BRIGHT COLORS in Deer season tho!
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Area Campgrounds
Nelson's Family Campground
71 Mott Hill Road
East Hampton, CT
Nelson's Family Campground
71 Mott Hill Road
E. Hampton, CT
Wolf's Den Campground
256 Town Street
East Haddam, CT
Markham Meadows Campground
7 Markham Road
East Hampton, CT
Water's Edge Family Campground
271 Leonard Bridge Road
Lebanon, CT

1. Start by heading onto CT:2 E from Hartford.
2. Continue on CT:2 E for approximately 10 miles until you reach Exit 12 toward Marlborough/Hebron.
3. Take Exit 12 and merge onto Route 66 East/Marlborough St towards Hebron.
4. Follow Route 66 East for about a mile before turning right onto North Main Street (Route 85).
5. Stay on North Main Street/Route 85 for around three miles until you see signs indicating the entrance to Meshomasic State Forest.

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Connecticut State Parks