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.
This property was acquired and/or developed with the assistance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Peoples State Forest is located in the Pleasant Valley section of Barkhamsted. The forest was established in 1924 through the efforts of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association which coordinated subscriptions for donations. The donations came from citizens groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Connecticut Federation of Women's Clubs and many other groups and individuals who purchased land and donated it to the people of Connecticut for approximately $8.00 an acre. The West Branch of the Farmington River, designated as a Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service, is the center point of river-based recreational activities including trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. 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. See American Legion State Forest for nearby camping opportunities.
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.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, the historic Nature Museum features displays on forestry, flora and fauna native to Connecticut, local history artifacts, rocks and minerals, and insects. Programs are offered throughout the summer. The Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Museum is open from Memorial Day throughLabor Day, Friday throughMonday 10:30 am - 4:30 pm. Admission is free.
Peoples State Forest offers facilities including toilets, a seasonal museum, open air picnic shelter, and picnic tables. Picnic shelters at many state parks are available for rental Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Reservations can be arranged through the on-line campground reservation system, Reserve America, or by calling 1-877-668-CAMP (2267). All picnic shelters are handicapped accessible. The 30ft x 60ft picnic shelter holds a capacity of 100 people and includes picnic tables, one large grill, and working fireplace available. Pavilion is 150 feet from restrooms and 150 feet from parking lot. Partially open air shelter - no electricity or running water. The rental fee is $220.
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.
This forest offers:
Handicapped accessible campground toilets, parking, picnic tables, and a picnic shelter.
The forest recreation areas are open from 8 am to sunset. Other forest areas are open one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Pets on a leash are permitted. Campers at the American Legion State Forest may have one pet per campsite.
Experience the white pine picnic groves in the Matthies Grove and Whittemore Recreation Areas. Or check out the 14-mile network of hiking trails, the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Native American historic site, scenic vistas, the historic Squire’s Tavern, and the Nature Museum.