Search This Blog

Friday, October 21, 2022

Soapstone Mountain/Shenipsit State Forest Loop Hike, Somers, CT

Every year, I head up to the beautiful northern New England states for some kind of leaf-peeping fun. Whether it be mountain biking in Vermont or hiking in the Whites, I love to experience the glorious month of October up north. This year, it just didn't happen and I had to keep reminding myself, we are just in a different season of life. Things have been hectic between babies, renovations, colds, and the dogs and we just never found the time to make it north. 

The good news is that my lack of travel meant I had to soak up all the color right here in Connecticut. Forced to slow down and explore a bit around here, I was pleasantly surprised at just how lovely the foliage was this year. From our own backyard to northern parts of Connecticut, the nutmeg state has a lot to offer come mid-October. I originally planned to head to the quiet northwest corner of Connecticut but after a bit of research, wanted to try somewhere a bit different. A quick search on google led me to the northern border to hike Soapstone Mountain in Shenipsit State Park in Somers, Connecticut. Short family and dog-friendly hike in a state park to a scenic vista with an observation tower to enjoy the views. What's not to love?

About Shenipsit State Forest

Living in such a small state, it's surprising to say I have never even heard of this state forest and well-known hike. I did a bit of research before heading to the mountain and dove into the history of this corner of Connecticut. Shenipsit State Forest began in 1927 when the state purchased the land at the summit of Soapstone Mountain to erect a fire tower (which has since been replaced with the current observation tower), protecting the eastern woodlands. The forest slowly grew to what it is today, 7,078 acres that extend into the towns of Ellington, Somers, and Stafford.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

The park is also home to Connecticut’s museum of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), commemorating the corps and the 1935 CCC Camp Conner (at the present site of the Shenipsit Forest Headquarters). President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s created the CCC with the double purpose of expanding environmental conservation work and keeping young men during the Great Depression until 1941.  CCC crew consisted of men, mostly ages 17 to 24 and they lived in military-style camps throughout the state. CCC workers were paid $1 a day to build the infrastructure in some of the state's most popular parks.

Our Hike

We had Whitney with us and wanted something shorter so we opted for the 2-mile loop to the summit and back. If you want something a little more strenuous, the park has a ton of trails to offer (trail map here). If you are more in the mood for a scenic drive, you can drive right up the mountain and enjoy a short walk to the observation tower and take in the views. 

It was the perfect hike to watch him waddle up the trails, carrying him in our pack when he decided he had enough. The trail starts out a bit rocky and rooty before following a road for the last bit. Follow the road back down the mountain and end up right back where you started.

** at the summit, we tried to take a shorter route down (cranky toddler). We followed the powerline trail down and I do not recommend it unless you want to climb down a really steep rocky section of trail. I would stick to the road or the main trails. 



Trail Stats

Distance/Elevation: 2-mile loop to the observation tower and back - 330' elevation gained 
Dogs/kids: Dog friendly (on leash) and kid-friendly - some elevation gained but an easy trail to follow. 
Trailhead/Parking: Off of Gulf Street in Somers, CT - large parking lot with port-o-potties

No comments :

Post a Comment

Let's Chat!