James L. Goodwin State Forest
Parking: Lot at 23 Potter Rd, Hampton, CT
Trail Map Trails: 10 miles Rating: ★★★★☆
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. A bird blind that had long sat on this side of the pond along the trail was removed in 2021 and not replaced. The trail passes through a series of educational tree identifications before crossing two roadways and into a heavily logged section (sometime around 2020). Continuing on will pass 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 on this side providing a very popular long wide flat trail where you’ll often see dog walkers and cyclists.
Either of these two trails can be used to create a 4-6 mile loop hikes around Pine Acres Pond.
East of the Pond
NOTE: The southern end of the pond is currently (as of June 2022) undergoing extensive dam work and the lower part of the blue/white trail is closed to hiking due to heavy machinery. Though you can still jump on the blue/white just north of the construction.
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 passes the Fran Zumpano memorial bench, which was erected in 2020 in memory of a longtime volunteer before joining the red trail next to Governor’s Island after about 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.
This section also has access to the 60 acre Maurice and Rita Edwards Preserve, technically a Hampton town park but contiguous and connected with the larger state forest
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.
Established at Connecticut’s 28th State Forest when it was donated in 1964.
- Friends of James L. Goodwin State Forest
- 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
- DEEP – Forest Management Plan 2012-2022
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Last updated Oct. 19, 2018
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