Day Pond State Park / Salmon River State Forest / Comstock Covered Bridge
180 acres in Colchester, CT
Parking: Turn left at 28 Peck Ln Colchester, CT and follow the road to a couple medium sized lots (depending on the season)
Trail Map Trails: 7 miles Rating:★★★★☆
Though the Day Pond park property itself is technically small it is so closely linked with this section of the Salmon River State Forest that I’ll consider them the same. Together they offer over 8 miles of trails including the Salmon River Trail that connects to the Comstock Bridge, one of CT’s covered bridges.
From Day Pond starting out on the blue blazed south loop will head off into the woods and past a very large erratic. At 0.6 miles trail junction sign sits on the hill just past a utility corridor. The left option heads downhill through rolling forested terrain for 2 miles until reaching the Salmon River and the Comstock Bridge.
The right fork heads downhill towards Day Pond Falls. It is about a half mile to the he spur to the falls which is another fifth of a mile down to the falls. The return part of the loop
The remains of Day Pond Road also cross the property. The trail is a wide downhill path that has eroded down to a rocky base. Water is often streaming down lengthly sections. The first half is part of the CT Horse Council recommended trail which breaks off at the utility corridor. A bit further you’ll pass old foundations and an old rusted car and from here the trail becomes less traveled/maintained. I followed it all the way down to the Salmon River curious about the scenic vista on the map. My surprise was a nice sandy beach with huge foundations on both sides of a wide stretch of river. The area had trout fishing regulation signs. The trail also continues along the high banks of the river for about another 1.5 miles as some sort of mountain bike loop. I turned around at a No Trespassing sign and recorded the below map back to Day Pond which includes the blue blazed North Loop, 1.35 miles of mixed terrain.
The return portion of the
In addition to hiking the park offers swimming and a beach at Day Pond with direct access (open gates) from the third Saturday in April until Columbus Day. There is also a pavilion and several picnic areas. Fishing is possible at Day Pond and seem to be just as popular along the Salmon River.
Comstock Covered Bridge
One of only three remaining covered bridges in the state, the original covered bridge here was built in 1791 to link Colchester and East Hampton across the Salmon River so that stagecoaches and horses no longer had to ford the river and were able to actually cross at times of high water. The bridge is named for East Hampton’s first postmaster, Franklin G. Comstock. A kiosk at the bridge entrance covers a history of the bridge.
In 1873 the bridge was rebuilt at a cost of $4,000 in the 90ft Howe truss style (a design patented in 1840) roughly the version that we see today. It continued to be the main crossing for traffic until the 1920s when a truck crashed through the floor making it apparent that modern vehicles were too heavy. In the 1932 the bridge was officially closed to traffic and renovated by the Civilian Conservation Corps. A concrete bridge was put in just downstream on current Rt. 16 for modern cars and trucks during the same period. The bridge was again in danger of collapse in 1969 so temporary supports were put in until steel plates could be added in the early 1970s.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
In the 1990s the bridge was yet again in a state of disrepair with missing floor boards and vandalism so the Chatham Alliance cleaned up the bridge area in 1996 and the DOT and DEEP fully restored it the following year. However, just over 10 years later the state decided to rebuild the bridge completely at a cost of $1.1 million. The rebuild took from March of 2009 to early 2012 (see photos of the rebuild here). Just after completion a lightning strike burned a section of the bridge and had to be replaced.
Today it is open to foot traffic and the occasional mountain bike.
Day Pond was established as a park in 1949, the site is a former sawmill and man-made pond by the Day family. I don’t have any history information about the parcel of the Salmon River State Forest yet. See above for a brief history of the Comstock Covered Bridge.
- The Geology of Day Pond State Park
- Waterfalls of New England – Day Pond Brook Falls
- ConnecituctHistory.org – The Comstock Bridge Brings East Hampton Residents Together (2020)
- CTMQ – Day Pond State Park (2012)
- Peter Marteka – Scenic Views Await Visitors On A Journey To Day Pond Brook (2009)
- CTMQ – Salmon River Trail (2007)
- Peter Marteka – Covered Bridge Exudes Mystery (1999)
- Peter Marteka – Town To Celebrate Bridge Restoration (1998)
- National Register of Historic Places – Comstock’s Bridge (1976)