For a small state Connecticut has a good many state parks, where such activities as hiking, picnicking, fishing, boating, camping, and even cross-country skiing are allowed. Connecticut's state parks are overseen by the Department of Environmental Protection and while some require a fee to access others do not. There are state parks in every corner of Connecticut, with hikers able to take advantage of the fresh air and excellent scenery.
In northeastern Connecticut there are no less than six state parks. The most northerly of these is Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union near the border with Massachusetts. Quaddick State Park is to the east, near the Rhode Island line and offers excellent pike fishing opportunities as well as canoeing and kayaking. James Goodwin State Forest has over ten full miles of trails for hikers to explore Pine Acre Lake, which is quite shallow and full of lily pads and stumps. There is also a short trail that takes the hiker through a managed area of forest. Mashamoquet Brook State Park is a beautiful region, with trails that traverse a bubbling brook and the surrounding forest, with a tie to Connecticut history in the form of Wolf Den, a tight cave in the woods into which Revolutionary War hero Israel Putnam crawled and managed to kill "the last wolf in the state" in 1742. The Mansfield Hollow State Park in Windham and the Natchaug State Forest in Eastford are also hiking havens, with the latter providing the more rugged trails of the two.
Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield is of interest to hikers that are also rock hounds, with several interesting formations along the trails there. There is also a stone tower at the summit of the mountain, which is at the end of a mile-long trail that rises some 500 feet as the hikers progress up it. Kent Falls State Park in the town of Kent is regarded as one of Connecticut's most gorgeous parks, complete with hiking trails that bring one to a view of a cascading waterfall. The Topsmead State Forest in Litchfield has numerous hiking trails and walking paths, along with one that is less than a mile long but with signs telling visitors about the trees in the area.
The largest state forest in Connecticut is the Pachaug State Forest, a 24,000-acre woodland that is spread over parts of six different towns, including Griswold and Voluntown. Hikers have mile after mile of trails to explore and there is camping at two sites and a rhododendron sanctuary in the midst of the forest. The Pachaug River flows right through this forest and leads to another state park, Hopeville Pond, which has a swimming area as well as fishing and picnicking in addition to hiking on paved roads.
Hikers will be enthralled with the geological wonders of the Devil's Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut. Several trails allow individuals to see ledges, glacial boulders, and the effects of the water from the 60-foot-tall Chapman Falls which is a highlight of the park. The park takes its name from the potholes ground into the rocks near the falls from the forces of water and stone, which early settlers mistook for the footprints of Satan himself. In Durham, adventurers can find Miller's Pond State Park, which is part of the much larger Cockaponset State Forest. Connecticut's second biggest state forest, it has trails galore for hikers and is named for an Indian chief.