The Pachaug Forest, Voluntown, Connecticut

Updated on March 28, 2019
LiteraryMind profile image

I like to get outdoors and walk, especially if it's a natural beautiful surrounding. I enjoy sharing my favorite spots with others.

The Natural Beauty of the Rhododendron Sanctuary in the Pachaug Forest

Eastern Connecticut is known for its tourism. We have two large resort casinos -- Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The Mystic area offers quaint shops as well as Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquariium. There is a lot to see and do.

Here, I am going to delve into a less commercial and less publicized attraction. This is something I love to do on a lazy day, and hopefully you will too.

I will offer suggestions and give the insiders view -- the things the guidebooks and State websites don't tell you about.

If you would like a more challenging walk, climbing Mt. Misery in this same forest is an option. See We Climbed Mount Misery.

An Easy Beautiful Walk - Handicapped and Wheelchair Accessible

Rhododendron Sanctuary Handicapped accessible
Rhododendron Sanctuary Handicapped accessible | Source

The Pachaug Forest is approximately 24,000 acres and spans six towns.

For the Rhododendron Sanctuary, I suggest you enter via Route 49 (Ekonk Hill Road) in Voluntown, Connecticut. Headed toward Rhode Island on Route 165 (Beach Pond Road), take a left on to Route 49 North. There will be a sign by the entrance and a Smokey the Bear sign is after it. There is no admission or parking fees as it is a State Forest rather than a State Park.

To begin, I suggest you take the first left turn into a parking lot. Here you will overlook a narrow marshlike part of the Pachaug River. The parks department has informational signs here describing the native: amphibians, waterfowl, birds and small wildlife. There is information on several kinds of herons and beavers.

Okay, now back in our car (or by the way, you can do this by bicycle) and turn left out of the parking lot and continue down a road lined with conifers. Where there are directional signs, you want to follow the signs to "Mt Misery"

You will come to an area where there is a big wide open mowed field. Park your car here and to the right of it is the Rhododenron Sanctuary.

To the left of the field you will also see several outdoor restrooms -- if needed.

Along The Path
Along The Path | Source

We Are on the Path for an Easy Walk

No Special Hiking Equipment Needed

The trail is approximately 1/2 a mile long; 1 mile round trip.

The path is hard packed gravel for part of the way. Over the more swampy areas there is a boardwalk. All of this is flat. You can do this walk easily in any pair of flat shoes. However, sandals tend to pick up bits of gravel.

The path is clear and wide enough that ticks are not prevalent.

It is almost entirely shaded and seems almost tropical with giant ferns and exotic mosses.

In the summer months I would recommend long sleeves or insect repellent. I have never seen the mosquitoes oppressive, but they are present.

Viewing the Rhododendron - July 2011 - Beautiful With or Without Rhododendron in Bloom

Rhododendron
Rhododendron | Source

The rhododendron on this path don't bloom in the early spring, the way cultivated rhododendron do. Depending on the heat and rain in the summer, they usually bloom in July.

We took this walk on August 8, 2011 and the plants had already bloomed. As you can see from the photo of the rhododendron they are still impressive.

There is other interesting vegetation along the path. The path is absolutely beautiful. There are moss covered trees -- incredible mosses on the ground; berry bushes and other wild flowering plants. After a rainy period the paths will be lined with incredible mushrooms and toadstools.

Rhododendron in Bloom, Mid-July 2012

Rhododendron-in-Bloom
Rhododendron-in-Bloom | Source

The rhododendron were in bloom in mid July, 2012. These are American Rhododendron which are native plants. Unlike cultivated rhododendron which bloom in the spring, these bloom much later in the year.

It is typical for them to grow near a swamp or stream

At the End of the Path - After Your Leisurely Walk

Pachaug River
Pachaug River | Source

At the end of the path, the boardwalk expands to a wider deck. You will be overlooking a narrow part of the Pachaug River.

On the opposite shore, you will be treated to an ever changing display of wildflowers through the late spring, summer and early fall.

Scene along route 49
Scene along route 49 | Source

What to Do the Rest of the Day?

I finished my short walk, now what do I do?

Below is a list of suggestions to make a day of this. See my link list for websites for the places mentioned. If they have one, they are listed.

I would suggest you head north on Route 49 toward Sterling and Oneco.

Much of Route 49 has been designated a Scenic Hwy. There are beautiful farms in rolling hills.

The first interesting landmark you will pass is the Wiley School. A one room school house with separate entrances for the boys and girls. There are also separate boy and girl outhouses in back. The building now belongs to the Voluntown Historical Society.

As you leave Voluntown and enter Sterling you will see a small church on the left. Built in 1858, this is the "Line Church". Built right on the town lines, when there is a wedding, the groom stands in Voluntown and the bride stands in Sterling.

After the church you will see Betsy's Farm Stand. Here you will find all locally grown seasonal produce. She often carries local honey and natural beef from her own farm. (Betsy's is also handicapped accessible)

Go a little further down Route 49 and you will come to the Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm where they raise free range turkeys. During the late spring, summer and fall they have ice cream made from cream from their own cows. They also carry local produce as well as frozen natural meats, refrigerated local natural cheeses and yogurts.

The bake shop has donuts, breads, muffins and home made pies. (Blueberry is my favorite.) The pies come already baked or frozen for you to take home and cook.

In the fall they have a corn maze on the property.

The Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm has a step up and a few steps down. It is not handicapped accessible, but there are picnic tables outside which would be handicapped accessible.

Some of the Sites Mentioned

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wiley School House - showing separate boys and girls entrances.The entering Voluntown sign as you head south on Route 49 from Sterling.   The "Line Church" is across the street.The "Line Church" on Route 49A view from Route 49, looking across farm land toward the hills.
Wiley School House - showing separate boys and girls entrances.
Wiley School House - showing separate boys and girls entrances. | Source
The entering Voluntown sign as you head south on Route 49 from Sterling.   The "Line Church" is across the street.
The entering Voluntown sign as you head south on Route 49 from Sterling. The "Line Church" is across the street. | Source
The "Line Church" on Route 49
The "Line Church" on Route 49 | Source
A view from Route 49, looking across farm land toward the hills.
A view from Route 49, looking across farm land toward the hills. | Source
A
Entrance to Pachaug Forest -nearest to Rhododendron Walk:
219 Ekonk Hill road, Voluntown, CT

get directions

B
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm:
227 Ekonk Hill Road, Sterling, CT

get directions

Check Out the Rhododendron Walk in Autumn

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I love all the different mosses that grow along the wayA view through red berriesLooking ahead down the pathThese are tree roots that form sort of a cave and now water settled in it.Nice bright Autumn shrubsLooking across the brook at the end of the trailA splash of yellow shrubsDon't ask me why, but I love toadstools and mushrooms.   They come in so many varieties.Looking upward through the rhododendron.   These rhododendron are not evergreen.  They turn yellow in the autumn
I love all the different mosses that grow along the way
I love all the different mosses that grow along the way | Source
A view through red berries
A view through red berries | Source
Looking ahead down the path
Looking ahead down the path | Source
These are tree roots that form sort of a cave and now water settled in it.
These are tree roots that form sort of a cave and now water settled in it. | Source
Nice bright Autumn shrubs
Nice bright Autumn shrubs | Source
Looking across the brook at the end of the trail
Looking across the brook at the end of the trail | Source
A splash of yellow shrubs
A splash of yellow shrubs | Source
Don't ask me why, but I love toadstools and mushrooms.   They come in so many varieties.
Don't ask me why, but I love toadstools and mushrooms. They come in so many varieties. | Source
Looking upward through the rhododendron.   These rhododendron are not evergreen.  They turn yellow in the autumn
Looking upward through the rhododendron. These rhododendron are not evergreen. They turn yellow in the autumn | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Ellen Gregory

    Would You Like to Spend a Day Here? - Everyone is welcome to comment.

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      • profile image

        SteveKaye 

        6 years ago

        Thank you for this wonderful tour. The forest must be truly beautiful when the flowers are in bloom.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        Nice place to be when the trees turn color.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        I'm stopping by again to take that walk with you in Eastern Connecticut.

        It really looks like a lovely place to take lots of walks and enjoy nature.

      • theallin1writer profile image

        theallin1writer 

        7 years ago

        I thought I saw the little frog but when I came to the end of the lens realised I saw something else! I think it was a little rock :)

      • bbsoulful2 profile image

        bbsoulful2 

        7 years ago

        This is a wonderful little lens. I love the way you personalized the hike with your own experiences. Angel blessed...

      • Craftypicks profile image

        Lori Green 

        7 years ago from Las Vegas

        Beautiful lens

      • Einar A profile image

        Einar A 

        7 years ago

        Thanks for the tour of this beautiful place. It was fun searching for the hidden frog, too!

      • profile image

        JoshK47 

        7 years ago

        Looks like a gorgeous place! Thank you very much for sharing!

      • NicoleLynn711 profile image

        Nicole 

        7 years ago from Bethel, CT

        What a great idea for a lens!! I live in CT and you def highlighted it's best aspects...no not foxwoods or mohegan lol but the great outdoors!!!!! :)

      • ZenandChic profile image

        Patricia 

        8 years ago

        I would like to live in Connecticut. I am attracted to the southern area. Love your lens! Blessing it!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        This is a place I'd love. Looks very peaceful.

      • MyCrazyAdventures profile image

        Melissa 

        8 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

        How relaxing and beautiful!

        This lens blessed by a Squid Angel.

      • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

        Ellen Gregory 

        8 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @LaraineRoses: Thanjks you so much for your comment. If they are really noisy for their size, they might be peepers.

      • LaraineRoses profile image

        Laraine Sims 

        8 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

        I would love to spend a day in Connecticut with you. We have frogs where we live .. I like them. One I saw in my garden, yesterday, was the smallest I've ever seen. He/she was only about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. The cutest thing!

        This lens is very well done. It would be nice if it would get a purple star.

      • paperfacets profile image

        Sherry Venegas 

        8 years ago from La Verne, CA

        Oh, rhododendrons, instantly brings "My Cousin Rachel" to mind.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        8 years ago

        I would love to come spend a day in Connecticut with you, and take a stroll along natures trails. Thanks for giving us a peek.

      • lesliesinclair profile image

        lesliesinclair 

        8 years ago

        Oh yes, I would love to spend the day there. It's splendid.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        8 years ago

        The walking trail looks peaceful. Thanks for sharing.

      • profile image

        Beas 

        8 years ago

        Loved taking a peek in Eastern Connecticut!

      • Ann Hinds profile image

        Ann Hinds 

        8 years ago from So Cal

        This is truly beautiful. Feel like I've taken a walk in a special place. Angel blessed.

      • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

        ElizabethJeanAl 

        8 years ago

        I love walking. It's too hot to walk now but fall is right around the corner.

      • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

        Ellen Gregory 

        8 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @mbgphoto: Thank you so much for the blessing!

      • mbgphoto profile image

        Mary Beth Granger 

        8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

        Looks beautiful...blessed.

      • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

        Ellen Gregory 

        8 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @spiritualll: Thank you very much. It's nice to hear.

      • spiritualll profile image

        spiritualll 

        8 years ago

        Hi!

        I've seen your lenses!

        They are nice!

        Good luck on squidoo and may you earn much money!

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