Parking: Medium sized lot near 368 Gulf Rd Somers, CT
There are 11 parcels to the Shenipsit State Forest and eventually I’ll have a separate page for each one. In the meantime, this page will focus solely on the trails just north and south of Soapstone Mountain.
The most common trail is the half-mile Shenipsit Trail section from the main parking area to the observation tower. It starts off in old pine forest and after 1/4 mile begins a rocky steep climb up the mountain. It isn’t actually much in terms of elevation gain, but it is a bit of work. The tower jumps out of the woods as you round a bend. The tower closed in 2014 due to safety concerns, but thanks to recent efforts, the tower has been completely restored! The article states that they were hoping to complete it by Thanksgiving 2018, but on my recent December hike a crew was still hard at work on it. It reopened in early 2019.
Just beyond the tower is a cell tower station and beyond that the road that you can take up the mountain with a picnic area along a ridgeline. Most trails are west of this area and wind through the woods jumping streams and over hills often within sight of the southern portion of Soapstone Rd.
My experience has been limited to the Shenipsit trails here though there are certainly more. Heading north across Gulf Rd from the main parking area the Shenipsit briefly follows Sodom Rd before cutting into the woods. Here the trail gradually climbs through young forest until coming out on Sodom Rd about a mile later. Both times I’ve visited the Somers Sportsman range has been active with gunfire.
The rest of the trails will have to wait for another day and hopefully a complete rewrite of this page.
Established as a state forest in 1927. The forest is also home to the CCC museum,
In 1935 CCC Camp Conner was established at the present site of the Shenipsit Forest Headquarters and CCC Museum. The Museum is located in the only remaining CCC barracks building in the State and pays homage to the dedicated men who worked in Connecticut camps. The museum features a large collection of tools, equipment, photographs, and memorabilia from the former “Camp Conner” and 21 other camps in the State.
The DEEP created a guide to the CCC museum, which can be found here.
CCC Museum – The CCC in Connecticut 1933-1942
David Paulson – Trails Up Soapstone Mountain Worth Discovering
Steve at CTMQ – Soapstone Mountain Tower