The James L Goodwin Conservation Center and State Forest offer 17+ miles of trails through varied ecosystems including forest, wetlands, ponds and meadows.
Whether you are looking for a short stroll or a dozen mile trek, the trails in James L. Goodwin State Forest have your ideal outdoor experience. Folks come to Goodwin’s well maintained trails for many reasons including hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, geocaching, letterboxing, boating, fishing, youth camping, or one of Goodwin Conservation Center’s educational programs. Pick up a trail map at the Conservation Center, or check out one of the maps at the many kiosks on site found at popular trail intersections.
Trails are open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
Forest Discovery Trail Loop
The Forest Discovery Trail Loop leaves the northwest corner of the Conservation Center gardens as the blue-red trail and follows a loop that brings the hiker through several managed forest areas before returning to the center. Be on the lookout for the natural art installations at the beginning of the trail. Enjoy the trail with children and see if you can find all the fairy homes! An interpretive phone tour along this trail offers information on the history, ecology and management of this forest.
The Natchaug Trail
The blue-blazed Natchaug Trail begins at the Conservation Center and stretches north to connect with the blue-blazed Nipmuck trail. At the beginning of the trail, near the Conservation Center, there is a shed for viewing wildlife that looks out onto Pine Acres Lake. This trail was designed for foot traffic only. This follows the west bank of Pine Acres Pond, then passes Black Spruce Pond at a beautiful overlook on Orchard Hill before winding its way down to the Natchaug River and Route 198.
Air Line State Park Trail
The Air Line State Park Trail, a former railroad bed, crosses Potter Road just a few hundred feet from the center. The graveled, level bed makes it ideal for hiking, cross country skiing and horseback riding. Those feeling adventurous can hike the Air Line Trail some 8 miles north to the Connecticut Audubon Center in Pomfret, and from there on to Putnam if they choose.
Download the James L Goodwin Conservation Center Trail Map.
Visitors at the James L. Goodwin Conservation Center enjoy the 1.5-acre Richard D. Haley Native Plant Wildlife Garden as well as the Children’s Discovery Trail and Garden. Visitors can see and learn about dozens of native trees, shrubs and perennials that offer food and cover value for wildlife.
The Richard D. Haley Native Wildlife Garden was created in memory of former Goodwin Director, Richard Haley. It is maintained by a spirited group of master gardeners and community volunteers who share an interest in native plant habitats, invasive plant control and native plant propagation.
The Children’s Discovery Trail, a magical place for young children, was created by volunteers who maintain a “Fairy Trail” and a pollinator garden that pique children’s curiosity and sense of wonder.
A plant sale is offered annually by the Friends of Goodwin Forest, and native plants are available for purchase from June to October at our self-serve plant stand. We have a selection of shrubs and hardy perennials. All of our perennials are raised from seed without the use of chemical fertilizers so they will be hardy in your landscape. Proceeds are used to enhance the gardens and support the center.
We encourage you to visit the gardens. There are educational signs throughout to teach you the hows and whys of native, wildlife-friendly gardening. Guided tours of the gardens can be scheduled by calling 860-455-9534.