Austin Hawes Campground

American Legion State Forest

Outdoor recreation in the 3,900-acre American Legion and People’s State Forest includes biking, hiking, hunting, climbing, wildlife viewing, as well as fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing on the West Branch of the Farmington River.

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The American Legion and People's State Forests total 3,900 acres and are located in Barkhamsted, CT. The West Branch of the Farmington River, designated as a Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service, divides the two forests and is the center point of river-based recreational activities including trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Rugged terrain with steep, rocky hillsides typifies the remainder of the forest. Other attractions include the 200 year old white pine picnic groves in the Matthies Grove and Whittemore Recreation Areas, over 11 miles of hiking trails, the Barkhamsted Lighthouse and other cultural and historic sites.


Located in the Pleasant Valley section of Barkhamsted, the initial 213 acres of People's State Forest were a gift from the American Legion in 1927, to provide citizens an example of proper forest management, as observed by U.S. soldiers throughout Europe during World War I.


The park's signature trail, the Henry Buck Trail, leads through the forest to the ruins of an old cheese box mill, climbs the cliffs, and continues down the north slope. The park offers many other hikes on its eleven miles of trails, as well as cycling on park roads. Seasonal interpretive programs and displays on forestry, mammals, Native American culture, and local history are based at the Stone Museum, open weekends between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Visitors are also welcome to camp, hunt, trap, picnic, snowshoe, cross-country ski, snowmobile, ice hike, go boating, canoeing, and kayaking, play field sports, and fish.


American Legion State Forest offers 30 campsites in a wooded setting. Youth group camping is available at both American Legion and Peoples State Forests. Restrooms, a seasonally-operated museum, picnic shelters, and picnic tables are also available.