Craig C. on Pine Acres Lake
didn't make it very far in. the deer Flys were nasty. going back another time
Make sure you look at a map before you start your hike. There are a lot of different ways to get to the "island". The hike out to the island and back is quite a ways, my Fitbit said 5.9 miles total. This was a lot further than we anticipated. There were a lot of snakes around the marshy area leading up to the island platform. The parking lot is small and I am sure it fills up in the summer time. These trails would be great to bike on, they are very flat and wide.
This well marked picturesque hike featured woodlands and marshes, and ponds. The trails are speckled with kiosks denoting your current location. This is a great feature for hikers that failed to bring a map. Like other reviewers mentioned, we parked off of Potter Road and followed several trails that took us up and around Pine Acres Pond and then around Brown Hill Marsh before completing the loop and getting back to the car. Governor's Island featured an observation platform that we enjoyed a picnic lunch on. I would rate the trails as easy to hike and easy to follow. Some of these hiking trails are shared with horses so you have to be alert at all times as to where you are stepping. This is quite annoying as your attention is drawn away from the scenery, and wildlife and refocused on avoiding these droppings. We did this hike in early March and look forward to returning again when the leaves are out and the wildlife more active. The kiosk near the Potter Street Parking lot has some maps (black and white). This is good except it's hard to tell the difference when the trails are color coded. I recommend going to http ://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/education/goodwin/goodwintrailsmap.pdf and printing out your own map.
I've been hiking in the Goodwin State Forest for years now, and it boasts one of the largest trail systems in eastern Connecticut. Unlike the smaller Audubon refuges nearby, this state forest features a large man-made lake and long unbroken stretches of mixed woodlands.
The trails are well-marked by blazes and crisscrossed by paved roads. There are also a number of kiosks peppered around the park in case you find yourself lost. There's not much elevation change, but some trails are very rocky, particularly the blue/white trail on the eastern edge of Pine Acres Lake. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or sneakers that you don't mind getting wet -- the blue and red trails can get very muddy in springtime.
Goodwin is a hotbed for dozens of species of birds, and you're likely to see any number of waterfowl, songbirds, corvids, and woodpeckers in the woods and on the water. Definitely pack a pair of binoculars. My favorite spot for birdwatching is Governor's Island at the end of the red trail on Pine Acres Lake.
There are three parking areas, so plan ahead before you arrive and park at the one closest to the places you want to see. There are long stretches of trail that can get tedious unless you're out there to burn calories.
For my full write-up and recommendations, check out the Unarmed Hunting blog.
Day H. on Natchaug Trail around Pine Acres La...
This is a very large area with hiking trails galore! So many options here from short hikes to extra long. Trails are very well marked and many are very wide. I imagine this would be an excellent place for snowshoeing and I plan on making my way back here this winter. There is no huge elevation changes, but some trails are extremely rocky.
I Parked at the Potter Rd lot. Right off Rt 6. Very easy to find. I hiked 3.5 miles up the blue trail to the Orchard hill lookout. Not really much of a lookout as the trees need to be trimmed back but a good walk. I passed both Pine acres pond and Black Spruce pond. After a long hot summer these were nothing more than mud puddles. There are so many dead trees sticking up out of the water, I can't imagine either of these places being great for any kind of boat. Next I followed Orange and Blue white down the other side of Pine Acres (the east side of the pond?) This is where the trail is very rocky. There are signs posted that horses should avoid this area. Fine by me! There must be lots of horses around here because everywhere else there was a ton of horse poop. I don't like dodging landmines while I walk, or constantly stopping my dog from rolling in them, so this was one major downfall of these trails for me. I also took the yellow trail and did the mile and a half loop around the marsh. Worth the extra energy, saw more wildlife here than anywhere else that day. The yellow trail will be excellent for snowshoeing I bet. All said I hiked almost 10 miles. Besides the horse poop and an occasional piece of broken glass, it was a very nice area. Nothing more than marsh and bogs when I went but still excellent views and I got some truly wonderful pics.
Some areas were completely clear cut (like a section of the yellow trail) and other areas were marked for cutting, every tree with a big red X on it. The forest is a very wet area and I could see there were many places that would be mud at other times of the year.
This preserve has numerous possibilities for short hikes down well-groomed nature loops, as well as more ambitious, lengthy hikes. For a lengthy hike, you can take the Air Line Trail, or the blue-blazed trails. There are no really strenuous ascents, and the trails themselves have been well-marked and tended.
Access point is on Potter Road, off of Route 6 East in Hampton,CT. About half a mile down is a parking area with trail maps at the info board. There are trails around the entire pond. The western side of the lake has trails that are fairly easy. There's even a bird blind for those looking to view the Great Blue Heron that occasionally flies past. Once you get around the northern tip of the lake, the trail gets very rocky and the trail gets a little tight on the eastern side. It opens up once you near the southeastern end of the lake where everyone fishes.
This lake is one of a few spring fed lakes that isn't stocked by DEP. It can be canoed or kayaked in early Spring but tends to get overrun with lily pads by early Summer. There are 2 "overflow" dams next to Route 6 East that are clear of lily pads and can be fished without any problems. Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Sunfish, and Walleye are present here.