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Connecticut State Parks

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River Valley Region
Nassahegan State Forest
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Nassahegan State Forest © Trevor Brightman
Tunxis Trail
Nassahegan State Forest © Trevor Brightman
Trailhead on Cornwall Road
Nassahegan State Forest © Trevor Brightman
White dot trail
Nassahegan State Forest © Trevor Brightman
Ferns in May
Nassahegan State Forest © Trevor Brightman
Canopy late spring
Nassahegan State Forest © Trevor Brightman
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Located in Burlington, Connecticut, the Nassahegan State Forest spans over 1,500 acres of picturesque natural beauty. This captivating forest offers a rich combination of diverse habitats, featuring towering trees, vibrant wildflowers, and impressive rock formations. With its extensive network of trails, it provides a paradise for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature. Nestled in the heart of the state, Nassahegan State Forest is a true gem, offering visitors a serene retreat to explore and appreciate the wonders of Connecticut's natural landscape.
Nature of the Area
Nassahegan State Forest, located in Burlington and Harwinton, Connecticut, offers visitors a serene and picturesque natural escape. This forest encompasses over 900 acres of diverse terrain, including rolling hills, tranquil ponds, and lush woodlands. With well-marked trails that wind through the forest, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding while taking in the beautiful views. The Nassahegan State Forest also provides opportunities for fishing and picnicking, adding to its appeal as a recreational destination.
History of the Area
Nassahegan State Forest is located in the town of Burlington, Connecticut, and has a rich history dating back to the early settlers of the region. Here is a brief overview of its history:

1. Native American Presence: The land where Nassahegan State Forest now stands was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Tunxis people. They relied on the forest's resources for hunting, fishing, and gathering.

2. European Settlement: English colonists began to settle in the area during the mid-17th century. The town of Burlington was established in 1806, covering a vast area that included what is now the state forest.

3. Industrialization: In the 19th century, Burlington underwent industrial development with the establishment of mills and factories, taking advantage of the area's water resources. The forestland was used for lumbering and other industrial activities.

4. State Forest Acquisition: Concerned about the deforestation and the loss of natural resources, Connecticut's state government started acquiring land for conservation purposes in the early 20th century. In 1925, the state purchased the initial 136 acres that formed the core of what is now known as Nassahegan State Forest.

5. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): During the Great Depression, the CCC played a significant role in developing many state forests, including Nassahegan. The CCC workers constructed trails, roads, and recreational amenities within the forest, prioritizing conservation and improving accessibility for public use.

6. Forest Management: Nassahegan State Forest has been managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) since its establishment. The forest is selectively harvested to promote healthy forests and provide income for the state through sustainable timber management practices.

7. Recreation and Conservation Efforts: Over the years, Nassahegan State Forest has become a popular destination for outdoor activities like hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The forest's diverse ecosystems, including woodlands, wetlands, and the scenic Nehantic Trail, attract nature enthusiasts and outdoor recreation enthusiasts alike.
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.
There are several camping options in and around Nassahegan State Forest in Connecticut. Here are a few:

1. Black Rock State Park: Located about 20 minutes from Nassahegan State Forest, this state park offers camping facilities. It has a total of 78 camping sites, including 38 with electric hook-ups. Amenities include showers, toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Reservations can be made online.

2. Kettletown State Park: Situated around 30 minutes from Nassahegan State Forest, Kettletown State Park also offers camping facilities. It has 56 camping sites, including 38 with electric hook-ups. Amenities include showers, toilets, picnic areas, and a swimming area. Reservations can be made online.

3. Lake Waramaug State Park: Located approximately 45 minutes from Nassahegan State Forest, this state park provides camping options. It has 76 camping sites, including 18 with electric hook-ups. Amenities include showers, toilets, picnic tables, and a swimming area. Reservations can be made online.

4. Hammonasset Beach State Park: Situated about an hour and 15 minutes from Nassahegan State Forest, Hammonasset Beach State Park offers beachfront camping options. It has two campgrounds: Meigs Point and Cedar Island. Amenities include showers, toilets, picnic tables, and a wide range of recreational activities. Reservations can be made online.
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Nassahegan State Forest, located in Burlington, Connecticut, offers various opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. The forest encompasses the Barkhamsted Reservoir, which is known for its excellent fishing conditions. Anglers can find a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, trout, pickerel, and sunfish, among others. The serene and picturesque surroundings of the forest provide the perfect backdrop for a day of fishing. So, whether you're an experienced angler or a beginner, Nassahegan State Forest offers a great fishing experience in the heart of Connecticut.

The Nassahegan State Forest in Connecticut allows several types of hunting, including deer hunting, turkey hunting, small game hunting, and muzzleloader hunting. Hunting is permitted during specific seasons and hunters must adhere to state regulations and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. Detailed information on hunting regulations and specific hunting seasons can be obtained from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website.
1. Blue-Blazed Tunxis Trail: This is the main trail that runs through Nassahegan State Forest, stretching over 79 miles in total length with a portion passing through this forest.

2. Yellow Dot Loop: A shorter loop off of the main blue-blazed trail, it offers hikers an easier and quicker route to explore parts of the state forest.

3. Red Circle Route: Another side-trail branching from Tunxis Trail marked by red circles on trees along its path; slightly more challenging due to steeper inclines but rewards with beautiful views at higher elevities.

4. White Square Pathway: Marked by white squares painted onto tree trunks, this pathway takes you deeper into less explored areas within Nassahegan State Forest for those seeking solitude or wildlife spotting opportunities.

5. Green Triangle Track: An intermediate level track offering varied terrain including rocky outcrops and dense woodland sections; ideal for experienced hikers looking for a challenge.

6. Orange Oval Circuit: A relatively flat circuit suitable even for beginners or families hiking together ; passes alongside several small streams providing tranquil spots perfect picnic locations.

7. Purple Pentagon Passage: The longest single-loop hike available inside Nassahagen, taking adventurers across diverse landscapes such as marshlands , hardwood forests & open meadows.

8. Brown Diamond Byway: Primarily used during winter months when snowfall transforms landscape making it popular among cross:country skiers ; however also accessible year-round if conditions permit.

9. Black Hexagon Hike: Known being most difficult trek owing steep ascents / descents plus rugged terrains encountered throughout journey yet equally rewarding given panoramic vistas offered atop various peaks traversed enroute.
Located in Burlington and Harwinton, Nassahegan State Forest in Connecticut offers visitors a variety of opportunities for birding. This 1,100-acre forest is home to a diverse range of bird species, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching enthusiasts. Some popular birding options in Nassahegan State Forest include:

1. Trails: The forest features several hiking trails that wind through different habitats, providing ample opportunities to spot various bird species. The trails range in length and difficulty, allowing visitors of all skill levels to explore the area at their own pace.

2. Wetlands: The forest contains wetland areas, which are known to attract a wide array of bird species. The wet meadows and shallow ponds provide ideal habitats for waterfowl, wading birds, and other marsh-dwelling birds.

3. Forest Habitat: Nassahegan State Forest predominantly consists of a mature deciduous forest, which supports a diverse range of bird species. Woodpeckers, warblers, thrushes, and owls are just a few of the birds that can be found in this forest habitat.

4. Rarities: While not guaranteed, Nassahegan State Forest has been known to attract some rare bird species from time to time. Birdwatchers should keep an eye out for potential rare sightings and report them to local birding organizations or authorities.

Please note that while birding in Nassahegan State Forest, it is essential to follow ethical birdwatching practices. Respect the birds' space and refrain from disturbing or disrupting their natural behaviors. It is also advisable to bring a field guide or birding app to help with bird identification.

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Area Campgrounds
Lake Compounce Campground
185 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
White Pines Campground
232 Old North Road
Barkhamsted, CT
Gentile's Campground
223 Mount Tobe Road Route 262
Plymouth, CT

To get to Nassahegan State Forest in Connecticut, follow these directions:

1. Start by getting on CT-4 W/Albany Ave from the city center.
2. Continue on CT-4 W and merge onto CT-4 W/US-202 W.
3. Keep left at the fork to continue on CT-4 W and follow signs for Farmington.
4. Merge onto CT-10 N via the ramp to Chippens Hill.
5. Continue straight on CT-10 N/Pleasant St.
6. At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Redstone Hill Rd.
7. Continue straight on Redstone Hill Rd, crossing the bridge.
8. Continue onto Plymouth Rd.
9. Continue onto Stafford Ave, passing by the Terryville Fairgrounds on the right.
10. After 1.7 miles, turn left onto Jacobs St.
11. After a short distance, turn right onto Clark Ave.
12. Continue onto Town Hill Rd.
13. Nassahegan State Forest will be on your right. Look out for any designated parking areas.

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Connecticut State Parks