Housatonic State Forest consists of nearly 10,000 acres in 5 towns. It is the only Connecticut state forest containing part of the world-famous Appalachian Trail (AT). This trail runs for over 2,100 miles, from Georgia to Maine.
More than 3,000 acres of original purchases for the state forest were from one iron company in 1927. This gives a hint of the region's land use history. Most of the picturesque hills that make up the topography of Housatonic State Forest were once repeatedly clearcut to feed the charcoal demands of the iron industry. Abundance of charcoal mounds across the landscape (round, flat-top mounds approximately 20 feet across) is evidence of this history. Today, the trees have re-grown, and the rugged hills of the state forest provide a panoramic backdrop for the scenic Housatonic River, producing what is arguably the most beautiful region of Connecticut.
Today, this land is a multiple-use state forest. Housatonic State Forest is managed for its diversity of native wildlife, high quality forest products, watershed protection for the Housatonic River, scientific research, a variety of recreational activities, and for the aesthetic beauty that is hard to beat anywhere else in the state. The state forest is also home to two different Connecticut Natural Area Preserves: Gold's Pines and the Canaan Mountain Natural Area Preserve.
Natural Area Preserves are established to highlight areas of special significance to our state's natural history and to serve as refuges for rare species of plants or animals, and tend to feature noteworthy examples of natural ecosystems. Some of these Preserves require active management such as cutting or prescribed fire to maintain the unique and valuable characteristics that led to their designation.
Fees, permits, and reservations may apply.