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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Salmon River State Forest - Colchester, CT

Salmon River State Forest

If you have followed KW over the years, you know I have a dog with severe separation anxiety. Like jumping out of second-story windows, chewing windowsills, blow through screen-level separation anxiety. It is really stressful and usually results in me bringing my dog everywhere with me. Thankfully she has excellent car manners and is happy to hang in the car while I run into the grocery store, meet a friend for dinner, or run out for a bit. In the summer months, this is a much bigger challenge and between the fireworks, thunderstorms, and heat, we are struggling. I often leave her in the basement (which she has been destroying so I could give the rest of my destroyed house a break) or leave her in the running car (I carry two sets of keys to lock it). Needless to say, we've been struggling this summer and we needed a bit of a reset. We needed a family-friendly activity on a warm day where the dogs could play and I wouldn't be out worrying about someone breaking my car window while she lounged in the AC or Olive destroying the house. I did a bit of research on dog-friendly swimming spots in Connecticut and quickly found the Salmon River State Forest in Colchester. Dog-friendly, family-friendly, swimming, fly fishing, and a covered bridge - it's a Connecticut well kept secret I am sharing with you. 

Salmon River State Forest Comstock Covered Bridge

I had been to the Salmon River about 10 years ago and was pleasantly surprised to see it was even better than I remembered. This spot is truly a gem when it comes to a family and fido-friendly area to swim and relax. It's not as popular as a lot of swimming holes and better yet, there is plenty of room to spread around. The area under the covered bridge is the most popular area and easiest to get to. However, if you keep following the blue trail along the river, you can find plenty of other little spots to call your own. The blue trail was easy enough to follow where we could push the jogging stroller along. 

Salmon River

We brought fold-up chairs and lunch, towels and water, and set up "camp" to spend a few hours relaxing on a hot summer day. It was a Monday and the place was nearly empty. Where we set up, the water was shallow but the current was pretty strong. We had to watch our footing as we made our way across slippery rocks to wade in the water. Water shoes and a walking stick would be helpful to make your way across the river and to some deeper spots to soak. We sat in the river and watched the dogs swim and play and for the first time in a while, sat down and let out a sigh of relief. 

We were 100 percent in relaxation mode but if you wanted to do some hiking, you could continue on the blue trail all the way over to Day Pond State Park. If you do head over to Day Pond State Park, there is a swimming area on the pond (not dog-friendly) but it's not as clean or inviting as the moving water of the Salmon River. 

Comstock Covered Bridge

Comstock Covered Bridge

Another "big" attraction in the area is the Comstock Covered Bridge. It is one of only three covered bridges remaining in Connecticut, with the other two being in the northwestern corner (West Cornwall Covered Bridge in West Cornwall and the Bulls Bridge in Kent). The bridge is open to Pedestrians only and offers a photo op and beautiful backdrop as the Salmon River stumbles by. 

Need to know

About: The Salmon River State Forest (not a State Park) now contains nearly 6,000 acres located in the towns of Hebron, Marlborough Colchester, East Haddam, and East Hampton. Included in the forest area is 1,300 acres that are leased from the United States Government.

Fee: No - free! 

Access: The best spot to access the swimming areas is at the parking area by the Comstock Bridge. Park in the area, walk over the bridge and follow the blue trail. You can stop right under the bridge or find another area along the river along the blue trail. Water access areas are shaded on the CTDEEP map. If you follow Comstock Bridge Road, you will come across areas designated for fly fishing only. 

Bathrooms: No - The Salmon River Picnic Area (across Route 16/Colchester Ave) has bathrooms/outhouses. 

Salmon River State Forest Fly Fishing

Salmon River State Forest

Activities: Hiking, Biking, Picnicking, Swimming, Fly Fishing (fly fishing platforms located off Comstock Bridge Road and the area beneath the bridge is a popular fly fishing spot). The river is stocked with Atlantic Salmon and Trout. Head to the CTDEEP website to see the fishing regulations for the area. If you want a longer hike, there is a 6.5-miles route on the blue trail that takes you over to Day Pond and back. Trails connect over to neighboring Day Pond State Park and the Airline Trail. 

Dogs/Kids: Dog and kid-friendly. Watch kids near the water and be very aware of the moving current and slippery rocks. 

Salmon River State Forest Blue Trail

Salmon River Swimming

Salmon River State Forest

Salmon River State Forest Blue Trail

Salmon River State Forest Map

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