On Saturday I, together with JohnGalt and Maureen (who doesn't yet have a trail name) hiked the entire Natchaug Trail in eastern Connecticut, north to south. This is an 18.1, 18.7, or 19.2 mile trail (depending on which source you believe), together with a 0.4 or 0.6 approach on the Nipmuck Trail. It passes through Ashford, Eastford, Hampton, Chaplin, and Hampton again.

We spotted a car at the Goodwin Conservation Center in Hampton and drove up to where the Nipmuck crosses Eastford Road in Ashford. From there it's about a half mile to the northern terminus of the Natchaug.

The Natchaug starts in Natchaug State Forest, and wanders up and down through nice forest for a while, with a very short road walk, passing a pond or two. Before long it starts following Bigelow Brook. It follows this for a few miles in one of the nicest parts of the trail. (I'd done this section before, and that's what inspired me to try the whole trail.) This section also includes going through part of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, with inspirational signs made by the campers on the trees.

After crossing Rte. 44 we lost the trail briefly. We weren't sure we'd lost the trail until we found it again. It's always been my policy while through hiking that I won't intentionally take shortcuts, but if I lose the trail and then find it further down I won't feel obligated to backtrack to what I'd missed, so we kept going south.

After a short road walk on 198 the trail follows the Still River in another nice section, and then climbs a bit in what turned out to be the steepest part of the trail (which isn't saying much). Then we got to the Nathaniel Lyon Memorial Park, where we took a break at the picnic area.

After that the trail passes the Beaverdam Marsh, which is really a pond, and goes through a section I'd hiked a number of years ago, past waterfalls, intersecting a CCC trail, several forest roads, and then several regular roads, and climbing up Orchard Hill.

There's a bench on Orchard Hill, but not much of a view. There's a nice white pine forest just past the hill, though.

Just before Orchard Hill the trail enters Goodwin State Forest, having been in Natchaug State Forest for much of the time before that. The trail is fairly flat there, and there's several road crossings, but there's also several nice lakes, and you travel along the Air Line bike path for a ways. Eventually we arrived back at the Goodwin Conservation Center.

This was a very nice hike. It's never difficult, and it never goes very far without some sign of civilization, a road crossing or a house in the distance, but it also goes through some nice state forest, and has several nice sections which follow brooks through the woods.

Many thanks to JohnGalt and Maureen for accompanying me and for helping with the car spot.

Here are the pictures.



NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
NE111 in my 60s: 59/115 (47/67, 11/46, 1/2)
NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 40/48; NEHH 89/100
LT NB 2009; CT NB 2017

"I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Lewis Carroll