James L. Goodwin State Forest
Parking: Lot at 23 Potter Rd, Hampton, CT
Goodwin State Forest provides one of the most complete nature experiences in the quiet corner of Connecticut.
Hiking here is effectively broken in three sections: East of the Pond, West of the Pond, and Brown Hill.
West of the Pond
Goodwin is the southern terminus of the blue blaze Natchaug Trail. The trail passes through a series of educational tree identification before passing This three mile section Black Spruce Pond, old homestead foundations, and the Orchard Hill overlook. Next Section: Morey Rd
The Air Line Trail State Park also has 2.2 miles that pass through the forest providing a very popular long wide flat trail where you’ll often see dog walkers and cyclists.
Either of these two can be used to create a 4-6 mile loop hike around Pine Acres Pond.
East of the Pond
Shorter hikes can be found heading east around the 135 acre Pine Acres Pond. One of my favorite trails is the rocky blue/white trail along the waters edge. The trail is flat but requires some careful footwork over the rocks, roots and occasional muddy sections. It joins red trail next to Governor’s Island after a mile. I filmed a hike through this section in May 2019 taking in the abundant wildflowers, birds, and critters along the way.
In 2012, the Friends of Goodwin Forest built a new viewing platform on Govenor’s island to replace one built by Forester Bob Garrepy sometime in the early 1970s.
This area can be accessed independently by parking at the bend on Old Route 6. The yellow trail here starts alongside the Brown Hill Marsh and its earthen dam. The trail loops around the forested eastern side of the marsh until reaching Cedar Swamp Rd. A very short road walk leads back into the woods through a meadow trail junction and down to an old impoundment among the pines.
The Rest of the Park
Other features include the 1.6 acre Richard D. Haley Native Plant Wildlife Gardens and the Forest Discovery Trail at the start of the Natchaug Trail. There is a pavilion for picnicking that can seat 50 people, a boat launch for fishing or boating, youth group camping, and historical information kiosks.
The forest is also the site of an annual trail race of 10k and 30k distances.
Peter Marteka – A Journey To A Windswept Island In Goodwin State Forest (2013)
CTMQ – TSTL’16.7: James L. Goodwin Forest (2016)
Steve Broderick, Friends of Goodwin Forest build new observation platform. CFPA Woodlands Winter 2012. pg 26