Connecticut Mountain Biking Experience
Find Trails By State ride the northeast

 

family friendly biking with kids romantic bike getaways historic rail trails wildlife trails historic rail trails bike northeast waterfalls bike and beaches

James L. Goodwin & Natchaug State Forest Trails

Connecticut Mountain Bike Trails
Northeast Region

Family, Romantic, Wildlife
Directions & description

Location:
James L. Goodwin State Forest
23 Potter Road. Ashford, Chaplin, Eastford Counties, Hampton, CT

GPS Coordinates: 41.775021, -72.08215
(Park Headquarters)

Altitude: 623 ft.

Natchaug State Forest: Pilfershire Road
Eastford, CT

Length/Configuration:

James L. Goodwin S.F. - 2,171 acres. - 20 miles of maintained woods roads and hiking trails.

Natchaug S.F. - 12,935 acres. Miles sof woods roads, snowmobile and hiking trails.

A variety of configurations possible. loops, out and backs. Design your own route.

Terrain/Surface: Mostly smooth dirt roads, gravel double track trails, ballast & dirt rail trail, some rocky single track.

Technical Difficulty: Great for beginners. Some moderate riding.

Elevation Change: Mostly flat riding with a few hills. Moderately steep half mile climb from Morey Road to Kingsbury Road.

Trail Use: Generally open for non-motorized use: mountain biking, bicycling, hiking, horse-back riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing.

Caution: Multi-use trails. Hunting allowed in season.

Goodwin Nachaug State Forest Trail Map

Note: This trail map is a graphical representation designed for general reference purposes only. Read Full Disclaimer.

**

General Description

 

The James L. Goodwin and Natchaug State Forests are located through 6 towns including: Ashford, Chaplin Eastford, Hampton and Pomfret, The name Natchaug stems from an Algonquin term meaning "land between the rivers" and refers to the land at the junction of the Bigelow and Still Rivers which join to form the Natchaug River, a designated Trout Park.

Both the Goodwin State Forest and Natchaug State Forest offer miles of trails for hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking and other outdoor activities. Along the river, beautiful riverfront picnic sites set amidst groves of hemlock trees are the ideal places for a snack or lunch. On a hot weekend day in summer, the tables will be spoken for by lunchtime.

Park Facilities

Non-motorized boat launches; picnic pavilion, located on the east side of Potter Road at the trailhead for the white, red, and yellow trails, overlooks the 130 acre Pine Acres Pond. Enough seating for 50 people.

Visitors Center

James L. Goodwin Conservation Center

Environmental education facility owned and operated by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. A variety of of programs are offered to the public, schools and those that use and impact Connecticut State Forest's. There are nature paths that wind through a butterfly garden and living displays of the history, ecology and management of the forest.

Campsites & Cabins

Primitive backpacking and horse camping available year-round in Natchaug State Forest. Backpacking sites limited to one-night stays. Limited facilities. BYOT (bring your own tent). Water only provided at approved State Park and Forest wells.

James L. Goodwin & Natchaug State Forest Trails

A network of doubletrack and singletrack multi-use snowmobile trails, dirt and gravel roads within the two Connecticut State Forests pass through a mixed forested landscape of tall hemlocks, white pines, mixed hardwoods, wetlands, reservoir and pondscapes. Some stands of trees have been around since the mid-1800's.

The snowmobile trails in Natchaug State Forest provide connectors between the woods roads. Some stretches of the secondary roads may be overgown with brush. In general, these natural material roads and footpaths are open to mountain bikes.

This trail network allows for a variety of mountain bike loop ride options that encompass the entire Natchaug State Forest. Mountain biking loop rides of 7+ miles in Natchaug State Forest alone are possible.

You can also access The Airline Trail - Northern section from the James L. Conservation Center for a bike ride all the way to the Massachussets border.

James L. Goodwin & Natchaug State Forest Trail Connections

Natchaug Trail

The Natchaug Trail within the forest is a 5.6-mile stretch of Connecticut's 800 mile Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System. It passes north/south through the Natchaug and Goodwin State Forests along the Natchaug River. The northern end of the Natchaug Trail connects with the Nipmuk Trail, a popular hiking & backpacking route, just .2 miles south of Eastford Road in Ashford, CT.

The statewide Blue-Blazed hiking trail system is maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, a private non-profit conservation organization.Natchaug Trail, part of Connecticut’s 800-mile Blue Blazed Hiking Trail System. This statewide network is maintained by volunteers of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association

Airline Rail Trail

The Airline Rail Trail (North) crosses Potter Road just a few hundred feet from the James L. Goodwin Conservation Center. It connects to the Natchaug State Forests. Just below the Hampton Reservoir, it heads northeast out of the forest and travels through Putnam at it's northeastern terminus all the way to the Massachussetts border. Stone walls that delineated the farm fields will usher you out of the forest.

Trail Highlights & Nearby Points of Interest

Wildlife Watch & Photography

Pine Acres Pond, Black Spruce Marsh, Brown Hill Marsh

The 196-acre Pine Acres Pond is primarily used as habitat for migrating waterfow such as the Great Blue Heron and Kingfisher; wildlife observation and fishing. During the summer, lily pads provide lounges for a variety of frog types and turtles like to align shoulder to shoulder on half submerged logs.

A wooden observation deck by the boat launch provides great views of the lake and also serves as a wildlife watch platform. The marshes also provide good birdwatching areas. A remnant stand of Atlantic White Cedar is located at the north end of the pond.

White-tailed deer are common. Look for signs of muskrat and beaver activity.

Hampton Reservoir

Canoeing, kayaking and fishing are popular activities. The reservoir provides a variety of bass such as bigmouth, smallmouth, striped and spotted.

Scenic Vistas

Goodwin State Forest: An trail extension off the Natchaug Trail climbs to the top of Orchard Hill. There, you can get views of the Natcahug River Valley and the town of Chaplin to the southwest. Especially lovely during Fall Foliage season.

Civil War Trails

Nathaniel Lyons Memorial Park

The Natchaug State Forest encompasses a memorial (established 1805) that contains a large stone fireplace and chimney that are the remains of the birthplace of General Nathaniel Lyons, the first Union General killed in the Civil War along the Natchaug Trail. What a claim to fame!

Lyon was born on a farm in Ashford, CT and following in the footsteps of his relatives who served in the Revolutionary War, he served in the Seminole and Mexican-American wars. During the Civil War, he was appointed Commander of the Union arsenal in St. Louis, Missouri and was most noted for his actions at the beginning of the conflict.

Historical Notes

James Lippincott Goodwin (1881-1967) was one of the state’s earliest conservationists, one of America’s first professional foresters and a long-time Connecticut Park And Forest Association (CFPA) Director. He came to this property in Hampton, CT in 1914, where he practiced 50 years of pioneering forest management techniques that he learned as one of the first foresters to graduate from Yale School of Forestry in 1910. He grew white pine for timber, sold Norway spruce for Christmas trees, and grew apple trees in his fields.

In 1964 James L. Goodwin gifted the entire property, what he called “Pine Acres Farm”, to the State of Connecticut after 50 years of state-of-the-art forestry management. The house and 80 surrounding acres were then designated as a forest and wildlife Conservation Center.

Directions

3 miles east of South Chaplin on Route 6. Follow the brown state forest signs. 1.2 miles west of the junction of Connecticut Highway 97 and US 6 is the access road, Potter Road which leads to a parking area across from park headquarters. (shown on map above).

More Information

Natchaug State Forest
c/o Mashamoquet Brook State Park
RFD #1
Wolf Den Road
Pomfret Center, CT 06259

Phone: (860) 928-6121
State Forest Website: Natchaug State Forest

Return To Top