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

State map showing location of Mohawk State Forest
Mohawk State Forest -
 the 6th State Forest
Letterbox Stamp for Forest #6

Mohawk State Forest consists of 3,703 acres (plus another 240 acres in Mohawk State Park) in the towns of Goshen, Cornwall, and Litchfield. Although no Mohawks lived in the vicinity, the forest name comes from the alleged practice of local Native Americans of lighting signal fires on the summit of the mountain to warn their tribes to the south of the approach of the dreaded Mohawks from the northwest.

The woods we know today has only re-grown in the 20th Century. The State Forest was founded in 1921 from land donated by the White Memorial Foundation. In the 1930s, a CCC camp (Civilian Conservation Corps, President Roosevelt’s Depression era work program for young men) was operated in the forest. The camp was responsible for a large volume of work on the property, including construction of miles of roads that we still use today, planting of hundreds of acres of plantations, and creation of recreation areas, fire breaks and “fire holes” for forest fire control.

According to the original deed, Mohawk was to serve the purposes of public forestry, recreation, and a “bird and game sanctuary”. Over 80 years later, these edicts are still adhered to. The forest is managed actively to produce timber and other forest products on a continuous, sustainable basis, and to produce a more healthy, resilient and diverse forest with a variety of tree species, forest types, ages, and a variety of wildlife habitat. Mohawk remains one of the few state forests where hunting is largely prohibited, and few state forests offer more recreational opportunities. There are numerous trails for hiking, horseback riding, biking, and snowmobiling. There are also many opportunities for scenic vistas, picnicking, and bird-watching. The forest includes Mohawk State Park, which contains one of the major downhill ski areas of the state, and the Black Spruce Bog, a Connecticut Natural Area Preserve. A boardwalk in the Preserve takes visitors into the only black spruce bog in Connecticut.

Description: The letterbox lies close to the shore of Mohawk Pond, near YMCA Camp Mohawk in the southern half of the state forest. Like the previous, Centennial Series Mohawk letterbox, this letterbox is just off of the Mattatuck Trail, a Connecticut Blue-blazed Trail. 

The hike this time is short – but can be longer in winter. The gravel roads - Camp Road and the pond access road - can be snow and ice-covered in winter, even if plowed. It may be necessary to park near the intersection with Great Hill Road and hike in, but only do so if it's possible to get off the road safely and not block traffic. Do not attempt driving the pond access road if it appears slippery in winter. This road dips downhill off Camp Road, and you may not be able to drive back up the hill! 

Note that no swimming is allowed on the state-owned frontage of Mohawk Pond. Although this pond maintains ice on the surface longer than many water bodies, do not venture onto the ice, as it can be treacherous, especially early and late in the season. 

Directions: From the East (Torrington, Goshen) - From the rotary in the center of Goshen on Route 4, follow Route 4 West for 5.1 miles to the junction of Routes 4, 128, and 43 by the Berkshire Country Store (you will pass the Mohawk entrance, where you entered for the original letterbox—just keep going this time). Take a left, staying on Route 4 West.  Go only 0.15 miles and turn left at the sign for Mohawk Ski Area. This is Great Hollow Road. You will pass the ski area on your left. A portion of the Mohawk State Park land was leased in 1946 to produce the first commercial ski area in the state. This historic ski area is also where the principles were developed for artificial snowmaking, which is today considered a necessary business investment at virtually all East Coast ski areas.  

In July of 1989, a powerful tornado ripped through this area of Cornwall, breaking trees and leveling most timber in its path, including most of the famous Cathedral Pines. Nature has reclaimed the area quickly!

Go a total of approximately 1.7 miles on Great Hollow Road and bear left onto Great Hill Road. Follow this road for a total of 2.25 miles as it winds steeply up the hill. Take a left onto the gravel road where you see signs for “YMCA Camp Mohawk” and “Mohawk Pond” (DEEP knows this as “Camp Road”). Follow the Camp Road for 0.35 miles down a straight stretch, then turn right, downhill onto another dirt road. This goes a quarter-mile to Mohawk Pond. The pond is open to regulated fishing and non-motorized boating. It is stocked with trout annually, and also supports populations of other fish, including brown bullhead, golden shiners, pickerel, white suckers, and sunfish. The YMCA owns some of the shore on the opposite side of the pond. 

YMCA Camp Mohawk has been in operation since 1919, with an objective of providing rich and diverse group outdoor living experiences for girls in order to develop character, leadership and values. It provides a wide array of an estimated 42 different activities for girls and young women, including horseback riding, aquatic sports, and soccer among many others, in both day camp and overnight camp programs.The camp keeps its own horses and farm animals, and even boasts its own radio station. Approximately 800 young people participate in the Camp Mohawk experience annually. More information is available by going to:  

CLUES: To find the letterbox, look for the Mattatuck Trail entrance that heads east, or on your right, if facing the pond from the parking area (There are six miles of Mattatuck Trail in Mohawk State Forest. Another Blue-blazed Trail, Mohawk Trail, passes through the state forest for 2.75 miles. Mohawk Trail was the original route for the Appalachian Trail, which has since been moved further West). Follow the trail into the woods for about 150 feet, or around 60 adult steps. Look left. Walk off the trail, following a minor secondary path near the large white pines around you. Go about 60 feet, or around 24 steps, toward the northeast, heading straight for the pond and perpendicular to Mattatuck Trail. You should be standing on a large flat-topped rock. Look under that rock for your objective! Be sure to keep the letterbox well-concealed (not just inserted under the rock without sticks and leaves to cover it) and bagged securely, so that it is difficult to be found accidentally, and to prevent water damage during rain.   

Learn More, Earn a Patch: Your walk has led you through a unique and interesting corner of a larger forest rich with a history of natural resource management, the result of decades of agency and public appreciation for our heritage and natural resources. There is much to explore, and DEEP hopes you will spend some more time at Mohawk!
This is one of 32 letterbox hikes in the Seedling Letterbox Series, sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Division of Forestry. Take 4 additional sponsored letterbox hikes to earn a commemorative Connecticut Forestry letterbox 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

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Content last updated September 10, 2021