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“Pachaug” is an Anglicization of an Algonquin Native American word that means a bend in the river. Indeed, there are many rivers and creeks that course through the area that take sharp turns and twists as they meander downstream. Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut was originally created in 1928 with the purchase of about 1,000 acres.
The state of Connecticut continued to purchase parcels of land over the subsequent years until the total park topped 27,000 acres. Pachaug State Forest went largely undeveloped until the 1930s when President Roosevelt established his successful New Deal program. Under that program, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed several buildings, cabins, lean-tos, bathrooms, and blazed trails. Many of these original buildings are still standing today, and some of the original trails are still being traveled by intrepid hikers.
The closest large town is Norwich, which is about 15 miles to the west. Known as the “rose of New England,” it’s unknown how this nickname came about. However, it’s almost certain that Henry Ward Beecher can be credited for originating this. It’s also believed that the first known usage of the word, “hello,” occurred in this town.
Encompassing over 27,000 acres, Pachaug State Forest is the largest state forest in Connecticut. There are over 100 miles of trails for hikers to explore. Many trails pass by long-abandoned farms where the only signs of their presence are crumbling stone walls and square hollows in the ground that indicate where a cellar was once built. The longest trail is Pachaug Trail, which stretches nearly 30 miles from Griswold, CT, to Plainfield, CT. Like most of the other trails in Pachaug State Forest, the Pachaug Trail is relatively flat with an occasional rise or dip in the journey. In addition to hiking, many adventurers enjoy snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on Pachaug State Forest’s trails in winter.
Older than the country, Connecticut has its share of ghost stories and folklore, which any hikers - especially superstitious ones - should be aware of. The park is dotted by several waterfalls, most of which disappear in spring. A few, like Yantic Falls, persist year-round. Visiting this waterfall is said to bring bad luck to anyone who attempts to cross the top. As the story goes, the warriors of the Narragansetts Native Americans tribe were being chased by Mohegan Native Americans. Unfamiliar with the territory, they fled to the top of a chasm, and the entire band leaped - or fell off, depending on who is telling the story - rather than be captured.
Traveling the perimeter of Pachaug State Forest is the 58-mile Enduro trail, which is open to motorcycles only. The trail is a mix of paved road and dirt paths, for which a rider must be prepared. Any rider tackling this trail must have a valid motorcycle license and registration.
RV camping at Pachaug State Forest isn’t possible because there are no campgrounds. However, there are several options within 30 miles of the park that may be a good candidate.
RV camp near Voluntown, at Natures’ Campsites, which was established in 1972. Although the campground is old-fashioned, it boasts several modern amenities like wifi, an on-site laundry room, and a shimmering swimming pool. The campground also operates hayrides on weekends and fun family-friendly activities.
The Countryside RV Park near Jewett City, CT may be a good option to consider. With over 100 sites to choose from, campers can make use of full or partial hookups and all sites come with fire rings. The RV park is gated, preventing unwanted visitors from entering. Well-behaved pets are happily welcomed.
RV camp outside Preston. Strawberry Park Resort Campground bills itself as a luxury RV resort with a dazzling list of amenities like a splash water park, heated swimming pool, themed weekend activities, and more.
An advantage of renting a motorhome is it’s extremely easy to travel from town to town and explore its attractions and interact with friendly locals. Connecticut is chock-full of history and charm. Hop into a rental Airstream, hit the coast, and find your favorite lighthouse to photograph or paint. Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, RI, was originally built out of wood, but like the three little pigs, the builders found out why wood was a bad idea. It blew down in a bad storm in 1815. The lighthouse was rebuilt, this time using bricks and stone. This lighthouse is one of the few lighthouses in the United States that is still active, and while it isn’t open to tours, visitors can explore the grounds.
Step back into time at the Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT, and learn what life was like to sail the seas in the 1800s and what kind of technologies were available to these weatherworn sailors. The museum has on displays thousands of artifacts, tools, photographs, and documents for visitors to examine.
Ready for high-octane thrilling fun? Try your luck at a blackjack or craps game at the Foxwood Resort Casino in Ledyard. The casino also has hundreds of slot machines, ongoing live poker games, and keno. The resort also has a go-kart course, bowling alleys, and virtual reality rooms for children and adults.