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Small settlements and fledging villages popped up in what would later become Connecticut's Salmon River State Forest in the early 1700s. Mostly consisting of loggers, miners, and grist millers, most of these towns were abandoned when opportunities dried up. Even today, the ruins of these settlements can be seen if one looks past the lush overgrowth. One of the most notorious settlers in the area was a man, John Carrier, who was rumored to be an executioner for the king at the time. At the apex of his long and productive career, he angered a high-ranking royalty and fled to the Americas, where he made a new life for himself. Salmon River State Forest, taking its name from the nearby Salmon River, was officially established in 1934.
The closest town is Marlborough, which sits at the northern end of Salmon River State Forest. Marlborough, in addition to a variety of shopping and dining options, conveniently has a small hospital with an emergency room. Marlborough is also the site of one of the state’s oldest taverns, which was established in the early 1700s. Although it did not operate continuously operate as a tavern, it now houses a bar and a small restaurant (as of 2018).
Salmon River State Forest is about 7,000 acres of lush, thick woods that blanket gently rolling hills. A few miles of trails meander and weave underneath the shade of tall oak, maple, and beech trees. The trails are soft, and hikers’ feet are cushioned by generations of fallen leaves turned to nutritious mulch. Overhead, small songbirds provide the ambient music, chirping merrily as they hunt for seeds and small insects. Every now and then, a deer makes itself known by a flash of white as it flicks its tail up before bolting.
On a hot summer day, it’s not uncommon to see hikers join the fishermen in the Salmon River or Dickinson Creek to cool their toes. Both waterways are extremely popular with local fishermen for their robust fishing opportunities. The catches vary depending on the time of the year and the water temperature. Anglers can expect to catch salmon, brook, brown, and rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and a few other fish.
Hikers are not advised to venture off the trails. In addition to poison ivy, which runs rampant, the Connecticut woods are notorious for ticks. Similar precautions should be taken for pets, which are permitted to accompany their owners on the trails.
Skip enduring leaky tents and mosquitoes and wake up in the comforts of an Airstream rental. Though there is no RV camping at Salmon River State Forest, there are several options within 15 miles of the park.
RV camp in East Hamptons, CT, at Nelson’s Family Campground. The old-fashioned, family-friendly facility has been in the business since 1964. In spite of its age, it has several modern amenities like hot showers, WiFi, and laundry facilities. It also boasts several fun activities for families ranging from games to sports to craft activities.
Alternatively, consider Markham Meadows Campgrounds, which is set in the deep woods of Connecticut. It features electric and water hookups, WiFi, and an on-site dump station. It also has free kayaks and paddleboats for its guests to use on the private pond.
Hop into a motorhome and travel from town to town to explore the small-town charm and ambiance. Here and there, covered bridges stand, one of the last vestiges of a bygone era. The covered bridge in Colchester, CT, is one of the few remaining ones.
The capital of Hartford is just across the Connecticut River. Although it’s full of history that dates back to the late 1600s, it’s perhaps best known as the home of the famed author, Mark Twain. Visitors can tour his childhood home and examine various photographs, books, documents, and other memorabilia on display while learning about the lives of Mark Twain and his childhood friends.
One of the more odd buildings is found in East Haddam at Gillette Castle State Park. The eclectic actor, William Gillette, who was best known for depicting Sherlock Holmes in several plays. The castle, nicknamed Gillette’s Folly, was constructed in a medieval style, complete with doors with puzzle locks, a bar that was revealed by a secret door, and drawbridges.
At the end of a long day of hiking and exploring, kick up your heels outside an RV rental, and enjoy the quiet hum of crickets and mosquitoes as the sky darkens.
In the distance, there may be a soft hoot or two as owls prepare to hunt for mice. Search for an RV in Hartford County, CT, and jumpstart your RV camping adventure of a lifetime.