Henry Buck Trail, American Legion SF

Posted By on June 20, 2016

Henry Buck Trail, American Legion SF

4.7 miles; Barkhamsted, CT

So the hubs and I decided to give car camping a trial run. Neither of us grew up camping, although I was a Girl Scout and I guess his days as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne might sort of count… Anyway, we’re trying to plan a longer camping trip to Nova Scotia later in the summer, and wanted to try this whole “car camping thing” out.

For no special reason except that it was on my list of “hikes I’d like to do sometime,” I picked the American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted. The campground seemed reassuringly small, yet did have flush toilets and showers. And there were a few intriguing-sounding trails within walking distance. I chose the Henry Buck Trail for my next day’s hike.

One of Two Trailheads

One of Two Trailheads

The mileage for this trail includes the road walking from the campground. The trail loops up from the road and back down again, so there are two trailheads. I decided to start from the farther trailhead so I’d have less road-walking to do at the end. And the sign was weirdly confusing—what’s with the extra “e?” And speaking of confusing, I kept calling it the Buck Henry Trail. Buck Henry? The SNL guy? SO not the guy who built the trail!

Steps

Steps

Oh, and the trail! It was pretty tough, lots of elevation changes. I think my gps said the total elevation change was over 600 feet in less than a mile. Okay, all you White Mountain hikers, laugh. It was plenty challenging for me. But still, for all that, it was a very beautiful trail.

Plaque

Plaque

There’s lots to see. There’s an old cellar hole from a cheese box mill. Yeah, you read that right, a cheese box mill. I have no idea. And a plaque on a cliff face opposite a lovely little bench at an overlook. I got as close as I could to the plaque, but you’d have to be part mountain goat to get within reading distance. I’m not part mountain goat. I think the plaque says something about Henry Buck, and the Civilian Conservation Corps who built the trail originally back in the 1930’s. You are welcome to go find the plaque and prove me wrong if you wish.

West Bank of the Farmington River

West Branch of the Farmington River

The road that this trail loops up and back from follows the east bank of the West Branch of the Farmington River, which has been designated a part of the federal Wild and Scenic River System. It’s apparently a big trout stream, too, because there were fly fishermen in waders like, every 10 feet. It really was a lovely spot, and more like someplace you expect to see in Vermont or New Hampshire than someplace about 45 minutes north of Hartford.

You can find out more about the American Legion State Forest, the Henry Buck Trail, and the Austin Hawes Campground at the Connecticut DEEP’s website. And my verdict on car camping? Mmmm…. jury’s still out.

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