Connecticut State Forests

Parts of two state forests have land in Ashford: the Nipmuck and the Natchaug.  Neither of them has extensive development such as hiking trails and camping in Ashford, though the Mountain Laurel Sanctuary in the Nipmuck State Forest has a road into it that enables visitors on foot or bicycles or in a passenger vehicle to visit. The other parts of the forests are open to the public even though there are no official trails. Hunting is not permitted in either of these state forests within Ashford town boundaries. ( Still, it pays to be cautious in the woods during hunting season.

Nipmuck State Forest

      Most of the land in this fragmented forest is in our neighboring towns of Union and Stafford, with other parts in Woodstock and Willington.  The Ashford section takes up the extreme northwest corner of the town, northwest of I-84, and includes the Mountain Laurel Sanctuary and Morey Pond, both of which are reached through Union. The Ashford section includes the highest point in Windham County--Snow Hill, 1210'. 

     On the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website, the Nipmuck State Forest is linked to Bigelow Hollow State Park. Together, the two form a 9,000-acre preserve, which includes a 300-acre lake with boat access. There are also camping and miles of hiking trails at the state park.  This region can be reached on foot from Ashford by walking old logging roads through Yale Forest beginning on Barlow Mill Road and entering the woods on the Eastford side of Bigelow Brook where the brook makes an "S" curve, about 0.5 miles from Boston Hollow Road. 

                   Directions:  Snow Hill Road, which runs the length of the sanctuary, is off Route 190 in Union, less than 0.1 miles west of the intersection with Route 89. The Sanctuary ends at about 0.8 miles. If the yellow gate at the end is open, you can drive ahead and through the Nipmuck Forest, exiting farther west on Route 190 after a two-mile ride.

Natchaug State Forest

     Though undeveloped parts of this fragmented state forest are located in Ashford, the developed parts (trails, camping, etc.) are in neighboring towns. The Natchaug Trail, part of the Blue Trail System, starts in Goodwin State Forest at Route 6 in Hampton, and enters Ashford from Eastford, just north of Ashford Lake. There are no other marked trails in this forest in Ashford. DEEP website for Natchaug State Forest.