Connecticut Route 138 runs through the heart of the forest. Reach the main entrance by taking exit 85 of I-395 to Route 138. Take Route 49 North off 138 for the main entrance and headquarters.
Pachaug State Forest in far eastern Connecticut may be broken up into a patchwork of private and state land, resembling several peices of a puzzle if viewed on a map, but at 24,000 total acres it is Connecticut's largest state forest. It is also adjacent to Hopeville Pond State Park and the huge Arcadia Management Area owned by the neighboring state of Rhode Island.
The word Pachaug is derived from an Indian term meaning "bend or turn in the river". The Pachaug River, running from Beach Pond to the Quinebaug River, runs through the center of the forest.
The Forest encompasses two areas, the Chapman Area and the Green Falls Area.
The Trails : Pachaug State Forest Trails
Autumn is one of the best times to go mountain biking at Pachaug State Forest. The black flies and deer flies are not much of a nuisance then and the trails and forest roads are lightly travelled. Over the rocky landscape, a network of mostly gently rolling, multi-use dirt and gravel woods roads and trails wind through forests of predominately white pine, oak and mountain laurel. It's exceptionally pretty during the fall foliage season. Mountain bikes are permitted on the dirt roads and snowmobile trails.
Horse Trails: Marked with yellow faded plastic signs with red dot in the middle.
Hiking Trails: Blue blazed. Nehantic, Quinebaug, Pachuag and Narragansett trails pass through the area and are for foot/hiking only.
Motorcycle Loop: Only Red Arrow marked trails are approved for motorcycles. One direction riding. Motorcycles must be street legal and registered at the Park Office to ride at Pachaug State Forest.
There is a lot of ground to cover in this seemingly vast Connecticut State Forest. There is nothing we appreciate more at times, than the opportunity to just ride for miles and miles on a dirt forest road from one end of the park to the other through the woods. Considering the increasingly urbanized corridor we hail from, this is a luxury.
A wide variety of mountain bike ride options are possible. Trail 1, Trail 2, Gardner, Breakneck and Stonehill Roads are some of the main routes that criss-cross the forest. Intersecting this vast web of dirt and gravel roads are a wide variety of marked and unmarked side trails ranging from rocky and smooth singletrack to doubletrack trails and dirt fire roads. You'll encounter everything from short climbs and descents to long steady up and downhills, overgrown and muddy sections, downed trees, roots, rocks waterbars and eroded sandy patches. A 58 mile designated multi-use motorcycle trail connects the largest concentrations of dirt roads, offering lots of possible mountain biking ride configurations. Watch out for motorized off-road vehicles. There are enough easy sections that beginners will enjoy.
Because the popular and more accessible forest features like Beachdale Pond, Sawmill Pond, Pachaug Pond, Green Falls Resevoir, Mount Misery, the Rhododendron Sanctuary and the Horse Camping Area are all located in the southern half of the forest, the northern section of Pachaug State Forest will provide a quieter, more rewarding mountain biking experience.
If you are looking for an MTB adventure, just get out on the trails and explore but keep in mind that the trails, fire roads and singletrack that crisscross the forest cover a vast area. There are trail maps at the Pachaug State Forest Ranger Station or can be downloaded from the park website (links provided below). A road map will also help.
You can also park at the Hollow Pond parking area to tackle Pachaug State Forest from the north.
The Chapman Area of the Forest is a nice area to mountain bike in. There are many route options beginning around the Mount Misery campground. (see simplified map above for route ideas).
Suggested Ride Options : Chapman Area
For that long, no brainer mountain bike ride from one end of the forest to the other, try Trail 1 Rd. The wide, gravel road bisects Pachaug from the Southern Park entrance off RT. 138 to Hell Hollow Road in the north. If you start from the south, it's a long, gradual rolling uphill climb that will test your endurance levels and aerobic fitness. It's a good training ride. About three quarters of the way to Hell Hollow Road, you'll arrive at secluded Phillips Pond, and a small parking area. Several major trails converge here including the Pachaug Trail. There is a rustic picnic table at the southern end of the pond. The pond is dammed by a short stone wall and water cascades over the top, creating a waterfall. It's a great spot to rest and enjoy a picnic lunch or a snack. From here you can either explore some of the side trails or continue north on Trail 1 to Hell Hollow Rd. Retrace your route or head south using interconnecting trails and roads. The possibilities are endless.
Phillips Pond: Stop by the more secluded Phillips Pond for a picnic lunch.
Mt. Misery Overlook: Mount Misery Overlook is the highest point in the area at 441 feet. The best foliage views in the fall at Pachaug State Forest are from this vantage point. Accessible by trail and or car (600 feet from a parking area).
The Rhododendron Sanctuary: One of very few such areas in New England. The Rhododendrons are giant! In early July (usually around July 4th) take the time for a short scenic walk around the sanctuary when it has exploded into clouds of pink and white blossoms.
Beachdale Pond: Fed by Mount Misery Brook to the northwest, the shallow 45.9-acre Beachdale Pond with it's marshy coves and inlets and extensive wetland vegetation provides execllent wildlife habitat. Look for painted turtles hiding amid the arrowhead, pickerelweed, waterlilies and grasses.
A ramp leads to a wooden fishing platform available for handicapped anglers. This is also a great birdwatching spot. Osprey, mute swan, a variety of waterfowl and marshbirds can be seen.
Kayakers and canoers like to paddle up Mount Misery Brook. The boat launch parking area can be accessed from the East side of Route 49, one mile north of Route 138 and Route 165 junction.
Green Falls Recreation Area
Green Falls Reservoir
The main attraction in this area is the Green Falls Reservoir (also known as Green Pond). It's a man made impoundment on the Green Falls River. Feeder streams in the Pachaug State Forest empty into the clear water of the Reservoir. The Pachaug State Forest borders the entire Reservoir except for several acres of privately owned land on the southwest shore. It offers swimming in a beautiful natural setting.
The Recreation Area is crisscrossed by a network of trails and unpaved fire roads. The Green Falls Rd/Pchaug Multi-Use Trail as well as the The Naragansett, Pachaug and the Nehantic hiking Trails radiate out from the Reservoir like spokes on a wheel. For an easier ride, mountain bike on down to the Reservoir via the unpaved dirt roads.
Facilities at Green Falls Reservoir Recreaton Area include camping, swimming, hiking, and picnicking. The shoreline is undeveloped but a guarded swimming area is located on the southern shore of Green Falls Reservoir adjacent to the boat launch and camping area. A fee is charged on weekends and holidays.
Hopeville Pond State Park: Adjoins Pachaug State Forest. After biking the many miles of forest roads and trails in Pachaug State Forest, go for a swim in Hopeville Pond. It's serene shores are surrounded by pine forest. The park is noted for its glacial geologic features. The beach is located at the 80 site wooded campground. Facilities include restrooms with flush toilets, changing houses, drinking water, a boat launch and concession.
Old cellar holes and miles of stone fence winding through the woods give evidence that the entire forest was once farmed or pastured. Abundant water encouraged the establishment of a mill industry as early as 1711. Nearly every brook has several old mill sites and dams.
For more information
State Forest Website: Connecticut DEEP