Over 1000 miles of trail available to explore, and more added each day!

James L. Goodwin State Forest

The James L. Goodwin State Forest offers recreation for every season of the year, providing an extensive variety of trails, including an equestrian trail and the miles-long Air Line Trail.
Trail Activity
Accessible Experience Walking Hiking Cross-country skiing Horseback riding Mountain biking Paddling
Length
17.5 miles, Network
Difficulty
Easy, Moderate
Town
Hampton
Surface
Packed Earth/Dirt
Pets
Permitted on leash
Fees
No

Description

For those with limited mobility, the 1.6-acres adjacent to the house sport the Richard D. Haley Native Plant Wildlife Gardens. Here one can take a self-guided walk among several gardens, each representing different combinations of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that have wildlife value. Visitors can find a spot similar to their own backyard, and come away with ideas for high value wildlife plants that they could grow at home.

A new Forest Discovery Trail leaves the northwest corner of the gardens and follows a loop that brings the hiker through several managed forest areas before returning to the Center.

Those looking for still more can pick up a Goodwin State Forest trails map at the Center or at the southern terminus of the Blue-Blazed Natchaug Trail across Potter Road near the pavilion. Over 10 miles of white, red and yellow marked trails surround the 135-acre Pine Acres Lake, the smaller Brown Hill Pond, and follow other interesting forest landscapes allowing multiple uses including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The Natchaug Trail follows the west bank of Pine Acres Lake, then passes Black Spruce Pond and a beautiful overlook on Orchard Hill before wending its way down to the Natchaug River and Route 198. Hikers exploring other portions of the approximately 2,000 acre forest may find a letterbox, and spots for youth camping.

Pine Acres Pond is large (135 acres) and shallow, with stumps and logs protruding in many places. The lake is ideal for a challenging canoeing excursion. Bass, bluegill and bullhead fishing is popular, and the boat launch is across from the Goodwin Conservation Center. Electric motors are permitted but gasoline motors are prohibited.

The Blue-Blazed Natchaug Trail begins at the Conservation Center and stretches north to connect with the Blue-Blazed Nipmuck Trail. At the beginning of the trail, near the Conservation Center, there is a shed for wildlife viewing that looks out onto Pine Acres Lake.

Finally, the Air Line State Park Trail, a former railroad bed, crosses Potter Road just a few hundred feet from the Center. The graveled, level bed makes it ideal for hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. Those feeling adventurous can hike the Air Line Trail some 8 miles north to the Northeast Connecticut Audubon Center in Pomfret, and from there on to Putnam if they choose.

Whatever your desired activity may be, from a couple hundred feet to a dozen miles or more, the James L. Goodwin State Forest has a great combination of natural beauty, exercise and educational opportunities to offer you.

Other Information

Park Use:

Hours: The park is open from 8 am to sunset.

Pets: Pets on a leash are permitted.

Overview/History:

James L. Goodwin was one of the state’s earliest conservationists. He attended the Yale School of Forestry when it was still in its infancy and graduated in 1910.

Three years after his graduation, in 1913, Goodwin came to Hampton and purchased his first piece of property. Of these three acres of white pine and 25 acres of open field, Goodwin wrote, "…it was my ambition to own, develop, and operate my own timber acres according to the best forestry principles."

He continued to expand and improve his forest lands through the years. His initial crop was Christmas trees which he planted in 1921. He sold a crop every year from 1924 until 1964. He experimented with red pines, spruces, white pines, and Norwegian pines as his "Pine Acres Farm" grew. Ultimately, the approximately 2,000 acres included Christmas trees, stands of timber, and apple orchards.

In 1933 he built a dam on Cedar Swamp Brook flooding the existing swamp and impounded what is now the 135 acre Pine Acres Lake. Black Spruce Pond and another smaller lake were also constructed on the property. In all, Goodwin accumulated nearly 2,000 contiguous acres split between the towns of Chaplin and Hampton.

Philip Goodwin, James’s brother, turned the run-down farmhouse into his home enabling James to live on the property. That farmhouse, located at 23 Potter Road in Hampton, is now the Goodwin Conservation Center and interpretive museum which focuses on explaining the natural sciences and the art of forestry.

James Lippincott Goodwin made a generous gift of this, his personal forest, to the state of Connecticut in 1964. Thus was born the Goodwin Forest Conservation Education Center.

Today the land surrounding the Goodwin Conservation Center and Pine Acres Lake is a living display of forest practices common in Connecticut. The interpretive museum adjacent to the center explains the natural sciences of the art of forestry. The lake vicinity has become the central hiking area of the forest and a great place to observe wildlife.

Trail Manager

For more information, visit the CT State Parks website or contact:

CT DEEP: James L. Goodwin State Forest

CT DEEP: James L. Goodwin State Forest
James L. Goodwin State Forest
23 Potter Road
Hampton, CT 06247
(860) 455-9534
deep.stateparks@ct.gov
View website

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Trailhead Information

The Goodwin Forest Conservation Education Center/Museum is located off of Route 6 at 23 Potter Road in Hampton.

From the intersection of Routes 6 and 198 in Chaplin, go east 3.1 miles on Route 6 and take a left onto Potter Road.

From the intersection of Routes 6 and 97 in Hampton, go west 1.4 miles and take a right onto Potter Road.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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Trail Alerts

Trails
Sky's the Limit Challenge 2022
May 11, 2022 – December 2, 2022

This trail is part of the 2022 Sky's the Limit Challenge! 
brought to you by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) 

Learn more from CT DEEP |  Challenge Map

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