Topsmead State ForestLitchfield, CT
Go back in time to an era past. Come discover this hidden gem nestled into the pastoral Litchfield Hills. This location offers diverse landscapes, including bike and nature trails, formal gardens, unique bird habitats and an English Tudor style cottage. Be sure to visit the Orintas Family Butterfly Garden and Viewing Stand, the Edith Morton Chase Ecology Trail with interpretive signage.
Topsmead State Forest is the former summer estate of Miss Edith Morton Chase, daughter of Henry Sabin Chase, one of the leasers in the brass industry, and Alice Morton Chase. Upon her death in 1972, Edith Chase left her beloved country estate to the people of Connecticut and requested the property "be kept in a state of natural beauty". To ensure that Topsmead would remain undisturbed, Miss Chase left an endowment to be used toward maintaining and operating the buildings and grounds as they were upon her death.
Litchfield, CT 06759
(8:00 a.m. – Sunset)
Main (860) 567-5694
Numerous grails and pathways wind across the estate and are popular for hiking as well as horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing. To learn about the park’s ecology, plants, and wildlife, be sure to check out the self-guided Edith Morton Chase Ecology Trail with interpretive signs along all 0.7 miles.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Completed in 1925, the English Tudor Revival cottage was the country estate of Edith Morton Chase. Chase gifted the 510-acre state forest to the citizens of Connecticut. The exterior woodwork is of cypress, the downspouts are lead, the walls of brick and stucco, and the roof is slate. The interior woodwork is oak, as is most of the flooring. The foyer, hallway and dining room floors are of polished terra cotta tile. Most of the interior walls are of the same type of stucco as is found on the exterior. Fine craftsmanship, an eye for detail and understated wealth are evident throughout the house, which is tastefully and simply furnished with 17th and 18th century English country antiques.
Edith Chase shared her summer home with her life-long companions, Mary and Lucy Burrall. The ladies spent the winter months at the Burrall sisters' home on Church Street in Waterbury. Because it was their dream to create a pocket of serenity, the ladies' lifestyle at "Topsmead" was relaxed. Guests were entertained informally.
- Documentary: "Topsmead: One Lady's Legacy"
The Friends of Topsmead State Forest offers free 30-minute tours from June through October on the 2nd and 4th weekends of each month. Reservations are not required. On open weekends, tours are available from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., except for the last open weekend in October when hours are from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Topsmead State Forest is available to rent for wedding ceremonies and gatherings.
Park areas north and west of Route 118 are open to public hunting and trapping, with both firearms and archery permitted. Depending on the season, hunting is permitted for:
- Small game
- Fall deer/turkey
- Spring and fall firearms turkey
- Muzzleloader deer
- No-lottery shotgun deer
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Consult DEEP for more information on the latest rules and restrictions by season.
Miss Chase loved the outdoors and it shows in meticulous care of the landscaping, from the holly, lilac, and juniper plantings surrounding the estate, apple trees lining the drive, the four acres of manicured lawns, to the formal gardens bookending the house to compliment the English Tudor architecture.
The park’s glorious natural beauty lures many visitors and is a critical breeding and migration area for the Savanah sparrow, bobolink, bluebirds, and other birds. In fact, the park’s grasslands are designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon. Check out the Songbird Trail for prime birdwatching!
THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN
Thanks to the restoration efforts and diligent maintenance of the Friends of Topsmead State Forest, the Orintas Family Butterfly Garden is a spectacular island of native flowers and plants, drawing a steady stream of beneficial pollinators — and admirers.
Picnic Areas & Hiking Trails