The Natchaug Trail is a wonderful 19-mile-long trail, which makes its way through the James L. Goodwin State Forest and the Natchaug State Forest. It begins at the Goodwin Conservation Center off of Route 6 in the town of Hampton. The initial stages of the trail skirt the shores of the very shallow Pine Acres Lake and pass through pine and spruce stands along the way. It crosses Goodwin Brook and offers excellent bird-watching opportunities as it winds into the Natchaug State Forest. In time, the trail will lead to a ridge that is above a scenic brook, and it eventually ends where another trail--the Nipmuck Trail--begins.
The Nipmuck Trail takes its name from an Indian tribe that once resided in parts of central Massachusetts. It goes all the way from Mansfield, a town near the center of Connecticut, to Union, a town on the Massachusetts border. Parking for hikers is available at Mansfield Hollow State Park on the southern end of the Nipmuck Trail. The Nipmuck Trail will go through the Yale Forest in Westford and into the Bigelow Hollow State Forest. There, the hiker is treated to views of three bodies of water. Bigelow Pond is half of a mile in length, while Breakneck Pond is bigger. Mashapuag Lake, where the trail follows the southern and western shores, is easily the largest. Once hikers are in Bigelow Hollow, they may choose between the blue-blazed trails that extend for 17 miles or the white-blazed trails, which are mostly connecting trails. The yellow-blazed trail goes all the way in a circle around Bigelow Pond, a particularly striking scenic walk in the fall. Parking in Bigelow Hollow is allowed at designated areas for hikers wishing to take advantage of these paths.
The Pachaug Trail runs mostly through the eastern Connecticut towns of Voluntown and Griswold. It is lengthy, being 28 miles total, and goes from Green Falls Pond to Pachaug Pond, the region's largest lake at almost 900 acres in surface area. It is mostly through forests, and offers the hiker a pathway through meadows, pine forests, abandoned farmhouses, bogs, swamps and ponds. The Pachaug Trail scales the 411-foot-high summit of Mount Misery in the Pachaug State Forest, the largest such woodlot in Connecticut. It also takes the hiker by cedar swamps, where bird watching and wildlife viewing is normally excellent.