Nipmuck State Forest and Bigelow Hollow State Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Submitted by kfmwriter
Address:Route 171, Union, CT, 06076
Hours:8 am to sunset
Fee: On weekends: $15 non-resident; $6 after 4pm
Bathrooms: Portapotty

A short pond loop trail, great views, and plenty of different trails to explore make this a family favorite.

Bigelow Hollow
Photo by: Karl CHase

Just over the Massachusetts border, Nipmuck State Forest and the adjoining Bigelow Hollow State Park in Connecticut offer plenty of outdoor activities, ranging from hiking and camping to fishing and geocaching.

On a recent guided hike led by Chief Ranger Bill Reid, or “Ranger Bill,” as he said to call him, my group learned about the 9,000-acre area, which is part of the Last Green Valley, a National Heritage Corridor composed of 35 towns in eastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts. We chose to hike to Breakneck Pond, accessed just off the parking lot by Bigelow Pond. The 2-mile roundtrip is an easy walk along a wide path which intersects with Nipmuck Trail and can be taken all around the pond (a 6-mile hike). Ranger Bill has been following the progress of some nesting eagles, but we didn’t catch a glimpse on our hike. It’s definitely worth bringing binoculars in case you get lucky.

We did stop to check out one of two shelters located near the pond, the southern one; Ranger Bill said the East Shelter, located half-way around the pond overlooking it is his favorite. Campsites are also available. Nipmuck State Forest and Bigelow Hollow State Park are located in the town of Union and sit within one of the largest unbroken forest areas in Eastern Connecticut. Nipmuck is the second oldest state forest in Connecticut. The first parcel was acquired in 1905. According to local lore, the name "Bigelow" is derived from "Big Low" in reference to the deep hollow in which the 18-acre pond of that name is located. The word "Mashapaug" is the Nipmuck Indian word for "Great Pond," another pond in the park area.

Younger kids love the shorter Bigelow Pond Loop, a lovely one-mile hike that offers plenty of rocks to climb and places to stop and explore. It’s also easily accessed from the parking lot.

Plan B:

Old Sturbridge Village

Where to Eat Nearby:

Lots of places in Sturbridge Village


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