DEEP is continuing to carry out its mission and provide services while keeping both the public and our workforce safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for the latest updates on DEEP's response to COVID-19. DEEP COVID-19 Response

Connecticut State Forests - Seedling Letterbox Series Clues for Massacoe State Forest

State Map showing location of Massacoe State Forest

Massacoe State Forest -
 the 3rd State Forest

Seedling Series Letter Box Stamp #3

Massacoe State Forest was originally called the Simsbury Forest. It began with the first purchase of 119 acres in 1908. In 1949, it went from 244 acres to 99 acres when much of the forest went to the Parks Division to become Stratton Brook State Park. Thanks to the donation of the Great Pond property by James L. Goodwin through his will and another small acquisition, Massacoe State Forest is now 399 acres.

The forest is managed for sawtimber, firewood, wildlife habitat, and recreational activities such as hiking, jogging, fishing, and bird watching.

To find this letterbox you will need to know how to figure distance by pacing. A good place to start would be to figure how many paces you take in 100 feet. A pace can be counted as one step or, as it is in forestry, as two steps. For a forester, one pace is measured from the heel of one foot to the heel of the same foot in the next stride. Whether you count your pace as a single step (one foot to the next) or as every two steps (one foot back to the same foot) does not really matter, as long as you are consistent. To learn your pacing, first measure a 100’ distance on the ground. Walk this distance at a comfortable pace for yourself, taking “normal” steps. Count the number of paces it takes to walk the 100’. Repeat this several times to figure your average pace for 100’. Now that you know your pace, you are all set to find the letterbox.  

Description: The letterbox is located off an old railroad bed that is now used by walkers, joggers, and bikers in the Massacoe Block of Massacoe State Forest in Simsbury. Much of the walk is on nearly level ground except for except for a small portion where you are in the woods to find the letterbox. The walk is about two-tenths of a mile round trip and should take about 15 minutes.

Clues: From the intersection of Bushy Hill Rd. (Route 167) and Stratton Brook Rd. in Simsbury, turn in a northwesterly direction on Stratton Brook Rd. Follow this until you find a road that has something to do with trees. Turn on that road. Continue along this road until you come to a sharp bend. At this point, the road will now be composed of gravel. Pull off in the small parking area at the bend. You are parked adjacent to the old railroad bed.

Follow the railroad bed to the woods. From the highway fence post head in a southwesterly direction approximately 340’ until you reach white pine that is 20” in diameter, or as a forester would say, 20" DBH (diameter breast height). Foresters measure the diameter of a tree at a point on the tree that is 4.5’ above the ground. From the south side of the pine tree, follow the magnetic bearing of 293.5 degrees for approximately 110’ until you reach a red maple that is 5” in diameter. Look at the base of this tree for the letterbox. 

Massacoe was originally purchased to show that land burned over repeatedly could be brought back to productivity and that forest fires could be prevented. The forest was located on both sides of a railroad track that had been burned over numerous times. In effect, the forest became an outdoor laboratory for fire control. The part of the forest that contained this area, once known as the Simsbury Forest, is now a major part of Stratton Brook State Park.

The Massacoe Block is small, around 100 acres, when compared to some other State Forest Blocks that are several thousand acres in size.The forest area around the letterbox is similar to that found throughout the whole block. Trees found on site are mainly hardwoods and include red oak, black oak, scarlet oak, white oak, red maple, sugar maple, birch, hickory, and yellow poplar. Some scattered white pine and hemlock are also present.  The primary forest management activity in this block has been thinning of the forest through firewood removals.

Learn more, earn a patch: To see an area with a history of more active forest management, travel to the Great Pond Block of Massacoe State Forest off Great Pond Rd. in Simsbury. This block, composed of 296 acres, was acquired by the State after the death of James L. Goodwin in 1967.  Mr. Goodwin, a forester, was recognized for his dedication to forest management by having his Great Pond Forest named the first Tree Farm in Connecticut in 1956. Mr. Goodwin bequeathed Great Pond Forest to the State to be kept and maintained in accordance with its usual method of operation as a State Forest.  

This is one of 32 letterbox hikes that is being sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Division of Forestry. When you have completed 5 of these sponsored letterbox hikes, you are eligible to earn a commemorative State Forest Centennial patch.

When you have completed five of these hikes, please contact us and let us know what sites you have visited, what your stamp looks like and how we may send you your patch. We will verify your visits and send the patch along to you.  Contact DEEP Forestry

The Letterbox Page

Content last updated January 2020