Connecticut State Forests - Seedling Letterbox Series Clues for Pootatuck State Forest
Pootatuck State Forest -
Pootatuck State Forest is almost 1,200 acres. It is located primarily in New Fairfield, with a small portion in Sherman. The main block of the Forest rises steeply from the western shore of Squantz Pond. Most of the Forest was acquired in the 1920s for about $10 per acre. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established a work camp at nearby Squantz Pond State Park. The CCC was very active in the Forest. They planted trees, built roads and fire ponds, salvaged dying chestnut trees for posts and poles, and did forest thinnings to produce firewood.
Today, the Forest is managed for sawtimber, firewood, and wildlife habitat, as well as recreational activities such as hiking, hunting, birdwatching, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
Description: The letterbox is along the access road in the main block of the Forest. Estimated time for round trip hike from the parking area is 2 hours.
Clues: From the center of New Fairfield (intersection of Routes 37 and 39), take Route 37 north for 2 miles to Pine Hill Road. Pine Hill Road will be on the right, shortly after the New Life Community Church. Turn right on Pine Hill Road, and continue for 1.7 winding miles to an intersection with a road on the right. This road is also called Pine Hill Road, and in fact, the street sign tells you that Pine Hill Road is straight ahead, and also to the right. Take the one to the right. Continue for 0.2 miles to a dead end that is a parking area for the State Forest. There will be a brown DEEP informational sign at the entrance. Park your vehicle and hike past the gray metal gate. This woods road was built by the CCC and is commonly called "The Fire Road" because it was built to provide better access to fight the forest fires that were rampant during the early 1900s.
About 300 feet past the gate, the road will fork. Take the left fork. Follow the road for 1.6 miles until you come across 2 house-sized boulders on the left side (clue: the road begins to climb uphill shortly before you reach the boulders). Continue up the road until you are even with the far side of the closest boulder to the road. The letterbox is at the base of the boulder.
For those using GPS, the coordinates of the letterbox are: N41.52117 W73.48569
If you look around, you will see some hemlocks with sparse foliage. These trees have been attacked by the hemlock woolly adelgid, a non-native insect that was first discovered in Connecticut in 1985. It has killed thousands of hemlocks in our forests.
To return to the parking area, you can retrace your steps back up the road, or if you are feeling adventurous, continue another 0.2 miles to a Blue marked trail on the right. This trail will take you to an overlook. The Blue trail continues past the overlook, eventually meeting another woods road. When you meet the woods road, turn right, and you will eventually reach the parking area.
Learn more, earn a patch: Your walk has taken you through a State Forest that benefited greatly from the activities of the Civilian Conservation Corps. While the CCC did tremendous work, many of their improvements have exceeded their useful life and must be refurbished if we are to keep them in good shape for future generations. For example, recent maintenance on the Fire Road included the spreading of 500 tons of gravel, and replacing deteriorating culverts and bridges.
This is one of 32 letterbox hikes is sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Energy and 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
Content last reviewed February 2020