a person standing in the ferns beneath the tall trees (Instagram@mattrwoodward)

James L. Goodwin State Forest

Hampton, CT

Covering more than three square miles, the James L. Goodwin State Forest offers recreation for every season of the year. Fourteen miles of trails, including an equestrian trail and the miles-long Air Line Trail, 135-acre Pine Acres Lake, three large ponds, native plant wildlife gardens, and the Goodwin Conservation Center combine to make this forest an eastern Connecticut treasure.

James L. Goodwin was one of the state’s earliest foresters. After graduating from the Yale School of Forestry in the program’s infancy, Goodwin purchased property in Hampton, in his own words, “…it was my ambition to own, develop, and operate my own timber acres according to the best forestry principles.” He continued to expand and improve his forest lands throughout his life, and in 1964, generously gifted his nearly 2,000-acre personal forest to the state of Connecticut.

Today the land surrounding the Goodwin Conservation Center and Pine Acres Lake is a living display of forest practices common in Connecticut. The interpretive museum adjacent to the center explains the natural sciences of the art of forestry. 

Views from the Park

23 Potter Road
Hampton, CT 06247


Open Daily
(Half hour before sunrise –  Half hour after sunset)


Main (860) 455-9534

A man poses on a log holding leaves in the woods (Instagram@jonathan_antonio16)



Pine Acres Pond is large (135 acres) and shallow, with stumps and logs protruding in many places. The lake is ideal for a challenging canoeing excursion. Bass, bluegill, and bullhead fishing is popular, and the boat launch is across from the Goodwin Conservation Center. Electric motors are permitted, but gasoline motors are prohibited.



Youth group camping is available to qualifying youth organizations.



The lake vicinity has become the central hiking area of the forest and a great place to observe wildlife. Those looking for still more can pick up a Goodwin State Forest trails map at the center or at the southern terminus of the blue-blazed Natchaug Trail across Potter Road near the pavilion. Over 10 miles of white, red and yellow marked trails surround the 135-acre Pine Acres Lake, the smaller Brown Hill Pond, and follow other interesting forest landscapes. 

The Natchaug Trail follows the west bank of Pine Acres Lake, then passes Black Spruce Pond and a beautiful overlook on Orchard Hill before winding its way down to the Natchaug River and Route 198.

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 wildlife viewing that looks out onto Pine Acres Lake.

Finally, 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 eight miles north to the Northeast Connecticut Audubon Center in Pomfret, and from there on to Putnam.










Yes, on leash