Hiking the Natchaug Trail along the Civilian Conservation Corps Loop
“As long as the light lasts in these mid-October days, we want to spend each sunlit moment out-of-doors. The silent tide of the autumn colors that has been rising during the earlier part of the month has held for several days now at its peak.” Edwin Way Teale from A Walk Through the Year – October 16
There is no better time for a woods hike than October, and Edwin Way Teale put it perfectly in the desire to spend each sunlit moment out-of-doors. The cooler weather holds back mosquito hordes, and the brilliant autumn sun lights up colorful fall foliage to make for a memorable hike.
I am always thrilled when I discover a new trail, especially one near home that offers a loop hike, with varied habitat and terrain, a well-marked trail in good condition and some elevation to get the cardio pumping. My newest “favorites” are the Natchaug Trail and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Trail in Natchaug State Forest in Eastford that together create a nice loop trail. I have hiked this loop trail a few times, and I’m happy to share them with you in hopes you’ll consider adding them to your to-do-list.
The CCC Trail is a woods trail with scenic views of the Natchaug River, several sturdy foot bridges crossing tumbling forest streams, stands of stately hemlock trees, towering white pines, and a mix of oak, black birch and hickory along the slopes above the river. Connecting either end of the CCC Trail, the Natchaug Trail passes through exceptional mature upland forest with mostly deciduous trees. Along the way the trail passes a beautiful forest stream waterfall and stone ruins of an old structure – perhaps from an abandoned sawmill. The Natchaug Trail also includes views of Beaverdam Marsh, a favorite stopping point for migrating waterfowl.
This section of the Natchaug Trail is actually the middle 3.2 miles of a 17-mile-long trail that stretches from the James L. Goodwin and Natchaug State Forest between Rt. 6 in Hampton to the Nipmuck Trail in Ashford. Together the CCC Trail and Natchaug Trail combine to make an exceptional loop trail that can be more than 6 miles long or hiked in shorter sections of approximately 3 miles. There are also handy amenities including three easy-to-access parking areas adjacent to the trails, two picnic areas and seasonal portable toilets at two parking areas.
You can start your CCC and Natchaug Trail adventure at the parking and picnic area at Natchaug State Forest just off Route 198 in Eastford, 2.5 miles south from the intersection with Route 44. From there cross the river on the discontinued vehicle bridge (still good for hiking) for about 100 yards to where the CCC Trail crosses the road. From there you can head south (counterclockwise) for 1.5 miles, or north (clockwise) for 1.4 miles. Both directions meet the Natchaug Trail to form the loop back to the parking area.
You can also start at Lyon Memorial Park and the parking area on Kingsbury Rd. in Eastford or at Beaverdam Marsh parking area also on Kingsbury Rd. At both locations the Natchaug Trail passes through the parking areas, which also provide a location to rest during the longer loop hike.
It is important to note both the CCC Trail and the Natchaug Trail are narrow woods trails with lots of rocks, surface roots and tripping hazards. Both also have some elevation, so hikers need to be prepared for traversing up and down hills. These trails are not for novice hikers and can be difficult for people with mobility and balance issues. Sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes are recommended, as well as hiking sticks for those who prefer them. Plenty of water, insect repellant and snacks are also suggested.
The CCC Trail is marked with blazes of both yellow and blue paint on trees and trail markers. The Natchaug Trail is marked with blue blazes on trees and trail markers and is one of many blue blazed trails maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association trail stewards.
There are a few sources of information and maps for the Natchaug Forest, the Natchaug Trail and CCC Trail to consider.
The Natchaug Trail can be found at the CT Forest and Park Association website:
When accessing the CFPA on-line map, zoom in to the section in the upper righthand corner of the northeast Connecticut section of the map. You’ll find the loop trail between Beaverdam Brook and Route 198. The Natchaug Trail is shown in light blue and the CCC Trail in darker blue. Feel free to also contact me for additional information on this exceptional trail – right here, close to home in The Last Green Valley.
We live in a beautiful place full of exceptional recreational opportunities including the blue blazed trail system, the Natchaug Trail and Civilian Conservation Corps Trail in Natchaug Forest. I hope you’ll join me to enjoy them, care for them and pass on them on.
Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 860-774-3300 or email at Bill@tlgv.org
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