NATHAN HALE STATE FOREST
Nathan Hale State Forest: The first purchase of this forest was in 1946, through a bequest by the late George Dudley Seymour. The original purchase of 850 acres has grown since then to about 1,500 acres today. Mr. Seymour wanted to restore the Hale farm property he had purchased in 1914 ?to a state comparable to that which existed during Hale?s boyhood, when most of the lands were cleared and grazed by sheep and cattle?. He soon saw how hopeless that idea would be, as the land reverted to forest faster than he could keep it cleared.
Two of his forester friends may have influenced him to turn his interest to forest and wildlife management. In the 1930?s, with guidance from Dean Graves of Yale and George Cromie, Mr. Seymour began establishing conifer plantations. This practice continued into the 1950?s, by which time the land was under State ownership.
Mr. Seymour also had an interesting way of marking his boundaries. He planted them with hemlock and white cedar. The trees are still visible today as excellent markers of both former and current boundaries.
Since the state acquired the land, plantations have been established, thinned and pruned; fields have been maintained in grass and shrub condition for a variety of wildlife; studies are being conducted to restore American chestnut; a 200 acre natural area has been established to be kept with no management activity; and the forest in general has been managed for a sustained yield of wildlife habitat and forest products. The Town of Coventry leases a 57-acre area of the forest as a town park.
Today, the objective of the DEP Foresters is to maintain a healthy forest with an equal distribution of age classes of trees from seedling to mature timber. The wildlife is abundant and often visible or audible. Hawks, fox and coyote rival the deer and turkey for use of the varied habitat available
Nathan Hale State Forest, located in Coventry, Connecticut, has a history that dates back to the early 20th century. The forest is named after Nathan Hale, an American soldier and spy during the Revolutionary War, who was famously hanged by the British.
In 1901, the Connecticut State Forest and Park Commission was established to identify and preserve large forested areas in the state. With the aim of protecting Connecticut's natural resources, this commission acquired several properties over the years, many of which would later form the Nathan Hale State Forest.
The land where the state forest now stands was purchased in multiple parcels starting in the 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program established during the Great Depression, played a crucial role in the development of the forest. CCC workers constructed a multitude of trails, roads, and infrastructure within the forest, including the Nathan Hale Trail, which is named in honor of the area's historical significance.
The forest covers about 1,500 acres and is predominantly comprised of deciduous trees, including oak, maple, and birch. The rugged terrain and rocky outcrops make the forest ideal for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and hunting. The Nathan Hale State Forest offers a variety of trails for hikers and nature enthusiasts to explore, providing opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
Additionally, the forest serves as an important area for wildlife conservation. Its diverse habitat supports various species, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear, and numerous bird species. The state forest also protects water resources, including streams and wetlands, which are vital for the local ecosystem.
Nathan Hale State Forest, through its natural beauty and historical significance, continues to be a beloved recreational area for residents and visitors alike. It represents a testament to the efforts of conservationists and CCC workers who sought to preserve Connecticut's natural heritage for future generations.
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.