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Enders State Forest

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Enders State Forest: A Natural Escape in Connecticut

Nestled in the picturesque landscape region of Connecticut, Enders State Forest is a hidden gem that offers a breathtaking natural escape just a stone’s throw away from Hartford. Spanning over 2,000 acres, this forest boasts a rich history, diverse ecosystems, and stunning waterfalls that make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.

Enders State Forest has its roots in a generous gift from the Enders family to the people of Connecticut. In memory of John Ostrom Enders and Harriet Whitmore Enders, their four children donated 1,500 acres of pristine land to the state. This generous act of philanthropy took place in 1970 when the forest officially became Connecticut’s 29th state forest.

A true hidden treasure, Enders State Forest offers an ideal setting for hiking, photography, or simply immersing oneself in the beauty of nature.

Enders State Forest is a place of contrasts, where the rugged meets the serene. The landscape varies from a high point of just over 1,100 feet above sea level in the northern sections to a low of around 900 feet at the western wetlands. These wetlands, combined with the forest’s hilly terrain, create a network of streams that flow eastward to the west branch of the Salmon River. The dense tree canopy overhead frequently yields damp and sometimes slippery conditions on the forest floor and trails.

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One of the forest’s notable features is its naturally occurring hazards, including rocks, steep slopes, and cliffs. These elements, while adding to the area’s wild beauty, can also pose risks to visitors. Rocks become extremely slippery when wet, so it’s essential to exercise caution and stay on the main stone dust trail marked with purple-colored blazes. Enjoy the captivating views of the waterfalls but from a safe distance, as swimming or wading in the area is not recommended.

Enders State Forest offers a range of activities for nature lovers to immerse themselves in the great outdoors.

Birding: If you’re a bird enthusiast, Enders State Forest is a haven for birdwatching. With its diverse ecosystems, you can spot various avian species. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and a field guide to identify the feathered residents of the forest.

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Hiking: Hiking is one of the primary draws of this forest. There are numerous trails that lead you through the heart of the wilderness, allowing you to experience its natural beauty up close. One of the most popular trails takes you to the captivating Enders Brook Falls.

Hunting: While the forest carries a hunting restriction in certain areas, some hunting is allowed in the newer acquisitions on the northeastern side of the forest. If you plan to visit during hunting season, be sure to check the DEEP hunting area map for specific hunting zones.

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Picnicking: With the serene surroundings and the sound of cascading waterfalls as your soundtrack, Enders State Forest provides the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Pack a basket and enjoy a leisurely meal in the heart of nature.

The crown jewels of Enders State Forest are undoubtedly its mesmerizing waterfalls. The forest is home to a collection of five distinct waterfalls, each with its own unique charm. As you hike along the trails, you’ll have the opportunity to witness these natural wonders up close.

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The First Falls: The journey begins with a 6-foot cascade, a gentle introduction to the splendor that lies downstream.

The Second Falls: A bit further down the trail, you’ll encounter the second falls, a 30-foot horsetail and plunge combination that fans widely down between rugged overhanging gorge walls. This is a popular spot for fishing, surrounded by hemlock trees and lush moss.

The Third Falls: Perhaps the most photographed of all, the third falls are part-horsetail, part-plunge. The water gracefully slides sideways off a wide ledge, then plunges into a refreshing pool. These falls stand at approximately 18 feet in height and are a sight to behold.

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The Fourth Falls: Just a short distance downstream from the third falls, you’ll find the fourth falls. Here, the brook slips off an overhanging lip, creating a 12-foot drop into a pool below.

The Fifth Falls: The final falls in this remarkable series is a 15-foot two-segment plunge, marking the end of the cascades in style. This area is likely to be less crowded than the falls above, making it an ideal spot for solitude and contemplation.

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However, it’s important to note that despite their beauty, these waterfalls can be treacherous. Over the years, Enders Falls has seen its fair share of medical emergencies. While swimming here is popular, it is not without risk. Always exercise caution and stay within your comfort zone when exploring the waterfalls.

Enders State Forest is a testament to the enduring beauty of Connecticut’s natural landscapes. It’s a place where history, philanthropy, and conservation converge to create an oasis of tranquility and wonder. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a birdwatcher, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, this forest has something to offer everyone. So, pack your hiking boots, grab your camera, and embark on a journey to Enders State Forest, where nature’s wonders await your discovery.

Enders State Forest Trails

If you’re a nature enthusiast and yearning for an escape into the wilderness, hiking at Enders State Forest is an experience you won’t want to miss. This forest, nestled in the heart of Connecticut, offers a network of well-maintained trails that lead you through diverse ecosystems, tranquil woodlands, and to the crown jewels of the forest, the mesmerizing Enders Brook Falls.

The Enders Brook Falls Trail is a short but incredibly rewarding hike. It’s known for its well-maintained gravel path that leads hikers through the lush forest, following the course of Enders Brook. The trail is marked with purple-colored blazes, ensuring that you stay on the right path as you make your way to the falls.

As you venture along the trail, you’ll encounter a series of natural features that add to the trail’s charm. The path features a mix of stone steps and wood rail fencing, which provide both safety and ease of access for hikers. These steps are especially appreciated as you descend the steep sides of the ravine that comprises the series of falls, making your journey both enjoyable and secure.

What’s Nearby Enders State Forest

Enders State Forest is not only a gateway to its own natural wonders but also serves as a launching point to explore several other captivating destinations nearby. Just a short drive away, the Barkhamsted Reservoir awaits, a serene and picturesque body of water offering opportunities for peaceful contemplation and outdoor activities.

For those seeking a blend of natural beauty and hiking adventures, Devil’s Hopyard State Park is an ideal destination, renowned for its mystical waterfall and scenic trails. Nearby, Yantic Falls, with its dramatic cascades and rich history, provides a stunning backdrop for photography and exploration. For more waterfalls and hiking opportunities, don’t miss Black Ledge Falls.

Together, these destinations around Enders State Forest present a diverse array of experiences, from tranquil reservoir views to exhilarating hikes and rich birdlife, ensuring that every visitor finds something to marvel at in Connecticut’s varied landscape.

Enders State Forest Parking Information

Enders State Forest is open to the public year-round, with gates opening at 8 am and closing at sunset. There are no parking fees (subject to change), making it an accessible destination for all. The forest is a pet-friendly location, with pets allowed on a leash in picnic areas and on hiking trails.

To reach this natural paradise, head to Route 219 (Barkhamsted Road) from the junction of Routes 20 and 219 in Granby. Follow Route 219 south for just over 1.3 miles, and you’ll find the entrance to the forest parking area on your left. There is space for about 20 cars, so you should find plentiful parking.

Further Reading

Enders State Forest Photos

Check out Carefree Creative’s photos of Enders State Forest

Enders State Forest Address & Directions

Enders State Forest, Granby, CT 06035

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