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.
American Legion State Forest offers 30 campsites (Austin Hawes Memorial Campground) in a wooded setting. The camping season begins in mid-April and ends on Columbus Day. 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.
American Legion Campground Best Campsites: 28 and 30
American Legion SF (Hawes)
198 River Road
Barkhamsted, CT 06063
Take Route 44 east from Winsted to Route 318 east to Pleasant Valley, or use Route 44 west from New Hartford to Route 181 north to Pleasant Valley.
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.
Nearby state parks include Burr Pond State Park, in Torrington, Penwood State Park, in Bloomfield, and Stratton Brook State Park, in Simsbury.