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

State Map showing location of Paugnut State Forest
Paugnut State Forest -
 the 17th State Forest
Seedling Series Letter Box Stamp #17

Paugnut State Forest covers over 1,950 acres in the towns of Torrington and Winchester.  It was established when the State purchased 1,127 acres in 1929.  This original purchase included a lookout tower that was established by the American Brass Company.  Brass manufacturing required huge amounts of charcoal, so land owned by brass companies was heavily and regularly cut, and the wood was burned to create charcoal.  At the time, a series of towers found throughout the state to serve the purpose of locating forest fires.  Today, this tower is gone, along with many others, as an airplane patrols the sky to report any fires.    

The majority of the remaining forest was acquired between 1930 and 1950.  With more recent acquisitions, including a transfer of land from State Park to State Forest, Paugnut State Forest now covers over 1,950 acres.  It abuts the approximately 450-acre Burr Pond State Park, which was established as a park in 1949 but was once part of the State Forest.  

Paugnut State Forest is managed for sawtimber, firewood, wildlife habitat, and recreational activities such as such as hiking, hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, and bird watching. 

Note - 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 the trail that loops around Burr Pond and is in Burr Pond State Park. The walk to the letterbox is along a hiking trail on fairly level ground and is about one-half of a mile one way.  A round trip to the letterbox will take about 25 minutes.  For a longer walk, continue past the letterbox and follow the trail around the pond.  This trip will take you on steeper and, at times, rocky terrain.  The loop walk is around two and one-fourth miles and will take about one and one-half hours.

Clues:  From Route 8 in Torrington, take Exit 46, the Pinewoods Road exit.  Turn west and head to Winsted Rd.  At the traffic light turn in a southerly direction and head towards Burrville.  In the center of Burrville turn in a westerly direction on Burr Mountain Road and follow this road.  On your way up the hill you will pass the site of the world’s first condensed milk factory, established by Gail Borden.  This site is within Paugnut State Forest.  Continue up the road past the entrance to Burr Pond State Park.  The Burrville Fire Training School, also located on State Forest land, will be on your right.  A few hundred feet past the fire training school on the left is the State Boat Launch on Burr Pond.  Burr Pond is an approximately 85-acre lake created when Milo Burr dammed multiple streams in the area.  Park at the boat launch.  Near the launch ramp you should see a Blue-blazed trail heading into the woods.  This is where you will begin you walk.

To find the letterbox you will start your walk by heading counterclockwise on the Blue Trail around the pond (if you are in the parking area facing the pond, this would be the trail to your right).  Follow the trail for about 2,200 feet (about 0.4 miles).  After you reach the fourth wooden footbridge (not including smaller, boardwalk-type crossings), you will find a large rock approximately 170' past the bridge.  Continue walking along the trail and look at the other side of the rock where you will find a plaque.  At the base of the rock near the plaque, you will find an American beech tree (Fagus grandifolia).  Look at the rotted base of the tree for the letterbox.

The plaque in the rock is in memory of Phil Buttrick.  He was a forester and he served as a Camp Commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp Walcott.  Camp Walcott was located near Burr Pond in Paugnut State Forest.  One of the camp’s stone buildings still stands today near the maintenance headquarters for Burr Pond State Park.  The CCC, a program that ran from 1933 to 1942, was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to employ those affected by the Great Depression.  The men of the CCC built many of the improvements (roads, walkways, etc.) that are found in our State Forests today.

You can return the way you hiked in or, if you want a longer walk, continue along the Blue Trail around the pond.  If you are continuing around the pond, after the power line, bear left at the fork and follow the Blue Trail (not the White Dot Blue Trail).  Stay on the Blue Trail.  You will hit a Yellow Dot Blue Trail and the White Dot Blue Trail again.  Stay on the Blue Trail and continue around the pond.  When you pass the dam to the pond, stay straight on the Blue Trail until you reach a roadbed.  Turn left and follow the road across a wooden bridge. 

After the bridge, turn left on the Blue Trail where you will be heading back towards the pond, on the other side of the dam.  (You are also heading towards the main recreation area of Burr Pond State Park.)  At the green gate turn right and follow the Blue Trail towards the parking lot.  Continue across the corner of the parking lot and cross the park entrance road.  To your right along the entrance road you will find a sign showing a map of Burr Pond.  Continue along the Blue Trail to the pond, turn right on the trail and head back to the boat launch.  

Learn more, earn a patch:  Burr Pond and the area around it used to be part of Paugnut State Forest.  In 1949, the forest recreation area of Paugnut, Burr Pond and the area around the pond, was transferred to the State Parks Division.  Several other State Forest recreation areas became State Parks during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

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 September 9, 2021