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Description

Bigelow Hollow State Park

Connecticut State Park / Nipmuck State Forest

516 acres in Union, CT

Parking: Several large lots along the park’s road off CT-171.

Trail Map          Trails: 35 miles      Rating: ★★★★★


The hollow of Bigelow Hollow is formed by ridgelines to the east and west and when combined with the surrounding areas, forms one of the largest unbroken forest tracts in Connecticut.  The state park property only encompasses Bigelow Pond to the shore of Mashapaug Pond and the rest of the park is Nipmuck State Forest land both east and west.  The two properties are so closely networked that they fall under the same heading at the DEEP. 

Hiking

The actual state park property has about five miles of trails including the yellow Bigelow Pond loop and the blue/white Mashapuag Pond View Trail.  However these trails connect to into the Nipmuck State Forest for a total of 35 miles.

The area has a 3 mile stretch of the blue blaze Nipmuck Trail that serves as its northern terminus where it meets the Massachusetts border.

  • Yellow – Bigelow Pond Loop 1.3 miles
    • Unexplored
  • Blue/White Bar – Mashpaug Pond Loop 4.68 miles
  • Blue – Nipmuck Trail 3 miles
    • This is the northern terminus of the 40 mile Nipmuck Trail where it meets the Massachusetts border.  After crossing Rt 171 the trail enters the standard mossy fern rock combo crossing a couple streams on well built bridges.  As you near the south end of Breakneck Pond the trail closely follows the water and is surprisingly rugged and rocky amidst dense mountain laurel.  At the end of my Nipmuck thru-hike I found this stretch to be pretty taxing but thoroughly enjoyed the numerous open views of the pond.  The trail crosses the East Shelter Lean-to which sits back from the water with a great stone fire pit before plunging back into 1.66 miles more of the ups and downs to meet the stone marker and the official end of this blue trail
  • Blue/Orange – West Ridge Trail 4.02 miles
    • This is one of my favorite hikes in the state, just one picture perfect scene after the other. The trail starts from the parking area at the north end of Bigelow Pond.  Up the little hill across from the parking area and a quick left takes you onto this well traveled trail.  The terrain is rolling, the pines surround you and you pass mossy boulders. The trail crosses Grass Road (which looks like any other trail) and begins to climb through a rock wash up atop a high knob.  As you circle around the backside on a fairly steep climb you expect to reach a great view.  At the peak of the hill, atop the rock slabs, you can see down into the forest and get sense of the shape of the land above but no amazing overlook, despite this it feels like a magical spot.  The trail then descends down the north side of the ridge to join Breakneck Hill Road.  I have not explored the last 1.5 miles of this trail.
  • White – East Ridge Trail 1.94 miles
    • The start of this trail is actually a bit hidden with the first few hundred feet poorly blazed and difficult to make out.  Just behind the small open field the white trail starts among tall pines on the standard mossy fern rock combo within the hollow.  The trail climbs to the bank of the ridge crossing numerous streams running down towards Breakneck Pond. The trail feels old and secluded even though the pond isn’t far away.  It never really feels like you’re atop a ridgeline more like your inside the lip of a shallow bowl right up until the last half mile where you descend very steeply back to the Nipmuck Trail and the Massachusetts border.  In July 2023, the CFPA summer trail crew placed rock stepping stones through a long muddy stretch.
  • Blue/White Dot – Breakneck Pond Trail 2.06 miles
    • This section of trail is rocky and technical along the waters edge, the rugged northern half is also known as Cat Rocks.  The entire length of this western side is rocky, rugged, and hilly with brief reprieves along the water.  This can be a taxing hike but it well worth it to combine with the Nipmuck on the eastern side for the full loop around the pond. The total distance is around 6 miles from parking area and back.

Swimming

The best swimming here is off the rocks on the peninsula a short quarter mile hike northwest of the boat launch on Mashapaug Pond.

Camping / Backpacking

These trails also provide access to 2 lean-tos and a camping area along Breakneck Pond. camping shelters

Send an application form at least two weeks before an intended stay to the address indicated on the form to reserve the site.  Helpful links for planning a backpacking trip using these campsites:

Boating

There are boat launches to Bigelow Pond (24.5 acres) and Mashapuag Lake (287 acres) along the park road.  The links provide overviews, pictures, and guidelines.

History:

Established as a state park in 1949 from Nipmuck State Forest land.  The origin of “Bigelow” is a mystery.


Links:

The information shown here is for general reference purposes only. exploreCT.org gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability of this data. Parking in all areas, whether designated here or not, is at your own risk. exploreCT.org is not responsible for any damage or loss to vehicles or contents.
Last updated April 23, 2019

Visited 5775 times, 4 Visits today

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