Campgrounds in CT
The campgrounds in CT range from kid-friendly, to destinations for the extreme sports enthusiast and everything in between. Whether you’re a first time camper, part of a youth group, or an experienced veteran, there are campgrounds throughout Connecticut that will remind you why you fell in love with camping in the first place. Connecticut offers thirteen campgrounds, including sites with rustic cabins, in their thirteen state parks and forests. All state parks and campgrounds are alcohol free, therefore plan accordingly. There are a few things you should know about the park system in Connecticut if you plan to stay in their system:
Many Connecticut state parks are alcohol free – meaning you can’t bring or consume alcohol in the park. In the parks where alcohol is allowed, state law requires that individuals must be 21 years of age or older to possess alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages are permitted in many of the state’s parks and forests, but not on beaches or boardwalks. For a list of the parks that don’t allow alcohol, see the state’s website.
Pets on a leash are permitted in most state parks and forests, but not many state campgrounds in CT. Owners must remove and properly dispose of pet waste left by the pet or riding animal under their control. They are not allowed in buildings, swimming areas, or state park campgrounds in CT. In addition, pets are not permitted at Sherwood Island or Squantz Pond State Parks between April 15 and September 30. Pets are not permitted at any time in Dinosaur State Park. More specific information can be found on individual park pages.
Connecticut’s Blue Blazed Hiking Trail System
During the 1920s/1930s volunteers blazed at least 250 miles of trails across the state, many of which still exist as part of the 800 or so miles of trails that criss-cross the state. There are dozens of trails to choose from, but three trails, in particular, may be of interest to the serious hiker. Two of the trails follow the north-south low traprock ridges in central Connecticut: the Mattabesett Trail between Guilford and Berlin and the Metacomet Trail, to which it connects, from Berlin to the Massachusetts border. The third trail is the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Trail , which runs through the state’s northwest corner.
The trail system now consists of over 825 miles of CFPA Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails that pass through 96 towns. The blue blaze includes all official main and side trails. The main line trails are marked using a solid light blue rectangular vertical paint blaze. A new design standard for blaze markings for these trails is the same light blue blaze as the main trails with the designated color square painted below and abutting to the blue blaze. This color, used by the Wonalancet Outdoor Club in New Hampshire, was chosen because it showed up best at twilight.
The trail movement in Connecticut is still strong today as hundreds of volunteers continue to mark and stabilize Connecticut’s trails. Since 1979, the Appalachian Mountain Club has been maintaining the Appalachian Trail and its side trails. They work through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that handles all of the volunteer clubs along the route. CFPA oversees volunteer networks to maintain the Metacomet, Mattabesett, and all of the BBHT. CFPA maintains strong ties with the property owners who allow trails to cross their land. Connecticut has always been dedicated to ensuring its residents enjoy and explore the outdoors.
Youth Camping Areas
One of the unique aspects of Connecticut’s state parks is their “Youth Group Camping Areas.” The group camps are generally away from main public use areas, giving group leaders maximum control over their group’s camping experience. The program is designed to encourage to learn about nature and the camping experience. In order to qualify, a group must be: Youth Oriented-the group must have demonstrated an interest in social, educational or religious work with youth; or if a Non-profit, the group must be sponsored by/or affiliated with a school, church or recognized youth organization. Written proof of IRS non-profit tax-exempt status is required when applying for a permit. Groups of up to 50 youth may obtain a permit for $33. Each permit is valid for a camping stay up to three consecutive nights. Permits for larger groups will be issued with a $33 fee applying for every additional 50 campers.
Some Youth Group Camping Areas are located on or near State lands that are also open to hunting. They are designated below by the symbol. If you are camping in an area where hunting is permitted,
Please note the following precautions:
- For one thing, wear bright clothing such as a fluorescent orange vest or hat for activities outside of the campground. Avoid wearing brown, tan, gray or white clothing as you may be mistaken for a deer.
- Also if you see someone hunting, call out to them to identify your location.
- Consider using a bell on bikes, horses or other outdoor equipment.
- Be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
- Hunting may occur year-round, however, the peak season in Connecticut begins the third Saturday in October and runs through December.
- Hunting is not permitted on Sunday.
American Legion State Forest
American Legion State Forest is home to a free nature museum, hiking trails, historical and cultural sites and places to picnic, as well as snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing in winter. Campers and visitors have ample access to the Farmington River for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
Hammonasset Beach State Park is a public area occupying two miles of beachfront on Long Island Sound in the town of Madison, Connecticut. “Hammonasset” means “where we dig holes in the ground” and refers to the place where a settlement of eastern woodland Indians farmed along the Hammonasset River. They subsisted on corn, beans, and squash, and by fishing and hunting. It is the state’s largest shoreline park and one of the most popular attractions in the state, drawing an estimated one million visitors annually. Don’t worry! There are plenty of sites available. Just be sure to make a reservation. The park offers bicycling, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming as well as a campground with 552 grassy sites with a variety of amenities, including restrooms, showers, a camp store, dump stations, and water. The Meigs Point Nature Center offers programs and activities for visitors during the summer season.
Black Rock is a designated Trout Park, so expect to meet a lot of anglers. Stream and pond fishing is why many campers choose Blackrock over other campgrounds in CT. Other activities in the 439 acre park include hiking, picnicking, swimming, and field sports. Excellent hiking is available on the Mattatuck Trail, from the Grey Stone section of Waterbury to the Wigwam Reservoir in Morris. This trail offers a scenic view of the Naugatuck Valley. The blue-blazed Mattatuck Trail, connects the park to the woodland sections of the Mattatuck State Forest.
The campground has 78 sites in both wooded and field settings. There is also rustic cabin rental: all cabins are 14 feet by 17 feet, have two rooms and can sleep six. There is a double bed in the front room and two bunk beds in the back room. Cabins do not have kitchens or bathrooms. The camping season begins in mid-April (weekends only from 3rd Saturday in April until Memorial Day Weekend) and ends September 30. Amenities include a dumping station, bathrooms, and showers. Activities include fishing, hiking, swimming, but no pets are allowed.
Devil’s Hopyard State Park
One of the best things about Devil’s Hopyard State Park is its small size. With 21 wooded sites near a scenic waterfall every camper is assured spectacular views of the water. There is stream fishing, but no swimming and no pets. The park offers some of the finest birding in the state and fishermen find the clear, cool stream water an excellent source of brook trout.
Like many Connecticut campgrounds, there is a permanent alcohol ban at Hopeville Pond State Park. Officials ask that you do not bring alcoholic beverages and plan your visit accordingly. The campsite offers 80 wooded sites near a pond. Amenities include a dumping station, bathrooms, showers. Fishing and swimming are allowed, but pets are not.
The Housatonic Meadows State Park Campground
The Housatonic Meadows State Park Campground has 61 sites in a rustic setting near Housatonic River. Amenities include a dumping station, bathrooms, and showers. No swimming. No pets. The clear, cold river water also provides a fine opportunity for fly fishermen to test their skills on trout and bass. A two-mile stretch of river (including the park shore) is limited to fly fishing.
Kettletown State Park
Kettletown State Park features Lake Zoar, the fifth largest freshwater body in the state. The lake was created in 1919, when the Connecticut Light and Power Company constructed the Stevenson Dam to produce hydroelectric power. The water of the Housatonic River feeds the man-made Lake Zoar, a popular site for all manner of water sports. Kettletown campground is a small park with 61 partly wooded and open sites. Amenities include a dumping station, bathrooms, and showers. Activities include fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and picnicking. Trailers and RV’s may not exceed 28-feet in length. No pets are allowed.
Lake Waramaug State Park Campground
Lake Waramaug State Park Campground has 76 wooded and open sites overlooking Lake Waramaug. Amenities include a dumping station, bathrooms, showers, fishing, and swimming. There are no pets allowed. Lake Waramaug State Park consists of 95 acres and is located in Kent, CT. Waramaug is the name of an Indian chief of the Wyantenock tribe who had hunting grounds near falls on the Housatonic River, now referred to as “Lover’s Leap,” in the town of New Milford. Chief Waramaug and his followers wintered in the area now covered by Lake Lillinonah, which was later created by damming the Housatonic, and made Lake Waramaug their summer residence. The land comprising the park, consisting of approximately 95 acres, was purchased by the state in 1920.
Activities in the park include camping, swimming, picnicking, fishing, car-top boating, scuba diving, field sports, hiking, ice skating, nature programs, and mountain biking.
Additional facilities include restrooms, showers, drinking water, a dumping station, picnic shelters, a concession,and gravel/grass parking.
Macedonia Brook State Park – Campgrounds in CT
Macedonia Brook State Park is a public recreation area covering 2,302 acres (932 ha) in the town of Kent. Visitors can camp in a 51-site campground, picnic, fish, and hike the blue-blazed Macedonia Ridge Trail, which crosses Cobble Mountain and other peaks.
Rocky Neck State Park – Campgrounds in CT
Rocky Neck state park’s 708 acres include a tidal river, a broad salt marsh, white sand beaches, rocky shores, and a large stone pavilion dating from the 1930s. The park’s campground has 160 wooded and open sites. Amenities include a concession stand, dumping station, bathrooms, and showers. Campers can enjoy saltwater fishing and swimming, beautiful, gently sloping, soft sandy beaches, picnic areas, train watching, diverse trail systems and salt marsh viewing platforms. Try crabbing or fishing. Look for ospreys, cranes, and herons or other waterfowl. No pets allowed.
Salt Rock Campgrounds in CT
Salt Rock Campground covers 149 wooded acres in a rural setting that was once farmland. In addition to its 71 tent and RV sites, Salt Rock offers walking trails, river and fishing access. Located in eastern Connecticut, the campground is near many tourist destinations including Mystic and New London attractions. Amenities include bathrooms, fire rings, dump station, paved parking, picnic tables, playground, and water faucets. Salt Rock is a pet-friendly campground.
River Camping In Connecticut
There are four public camps along the Connecticut River at Hurd, Gillette Castle, River Highlands and Selden Neck State Parks. They offer primitive, riverside sites with fireplaces and pit toilets for individuals traveling on the river. The river campsites are available from May 1 through September 30 and the length of stay is limited to one night. Use of river campsites at River Highlands, Hurd and Gillette Castle is restricted to canoers and kayakers only and the sites are only available by boat. The camps offer primitive, riverside sites with fireplaces and pit toilets. Fires are prohibited at the Gillette camp. Mooring or docking facilities are not provided at any of the camps. Campers at Hurd and Gillette Castle State Parks should plan on breaking camp by 9:00 a.m.
Horse Camping Areas in Connecticut
There are two state park campgrounds in CT that have been designed exclusively for equestrian use.
All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping is offered for riders who can provide their own mounts. Horse rentals are not available.
Natchaug State Forest – Campgrounds in CT
Silvermine Horse Camp. 15 wooded sites. Basic facilities only – campers are responsible for cleaning sites and carrying out all trash. Pets are permitted. There is no fee. The campground is located on State lands that are open to hunting. The Natchaug River is a designated “Trout Park” fishing area. The name Natchaug means “land between the rivers” and refers to the land at the junction of the Bigelow and Still Rivers which join to form the Natchaug River. The Forest is popular for its horse trails, outstanding fishing, and riverfront picnic sites. Of historic interest is a large stone fireplace and chimney that are the remains of the birthplace of General Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General killed in the Civil War.
Pachaug State Forest – Campgrounds in CT
Frog Hollow Horse Camp. 18 semi-wooded sites. Pets are permitted. The campground is located on State lands that are open to hunting. Pachaug covers 26,477 acres in six towns, and is the largest state forest in Connecticut. The word “Pachaug” comes from the Native American term meaning “bend or turn in the river.” Pachaug River, in the nine miles from its source at Beach Pond to its junction with the Quinebaug River, traverses approximately twice that distance in the course of its various windings and turns. Pachaug-Great Meadow Swamp was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973 and is considered one of the finest and most extensive Atlantic white cedar swamps in Connecticut.
Mashamoquet Brook State Park Campgrounds In CT
The Mashamoquet Brook Campground has two camping areas, with 18 wooded sites. Wolf Den Campground offers 35 campsites. Bathrooms, showers, dumping station. Fishing, hiking, and swimming nearby. No pets are allowed.
Regional Camping in Connecticut
If you want to camp in a specific region, and aren’t concerned about staying in a state park or campground, there are dozens of private campgrounds in CT located throughout the state.
The Northeast Corner – Campgrounds in CT
The Northeast, known as Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, offers something for everyone. You can visit farms for fresh and tasty produce, shop small unique stores, go antiquing, or enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Two of the country’s oldest agricultural fairs, the Woodstock Fair and Brooklyn Fair are located in this region.
Northwest Hills Region – Campgrounds in CT
The Northwest Hills Region of Connecticut boasts of a scenic combination of rolling pasture lands, forested hillsides, rivers and lakes. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities from hiking, boating or fishing. If you’re so inclined to hike all or part of the AT run through Kent or Salisbury. You can fish the Housatonic River or boat on one of the state’s three largest lakes. Shopping and antiquing is abundant in quaint villages that are surrounded by ccentury-oldhomes.
Central Valley Region – Campgrounds in CT
The Central River Valley follows the Connecticut River from the top of the state all the way to the shore. It meanders through large cities like Hartford and quaint little towns like Haddam and Essex. It is home to many wildlife species, including the peregrine falcon, osprey, bobcat, bald eagle and moose as well as offering excellent fishing. From boating to beaching, sightseeing and museums, this region offers a variety of activities for all ages.
The Southeast/Mystic Region – Campgrounds in CT
From the coast to the inland country area the Southeast/Mystic region is packed with things to do. From ocean swimming and sunning, to fishing and boating or lighthouse tours, and wildlife areas there’s plenty to do. Head inland and find miles of trails for biking and hiking. Adults can experience a little of Vegas at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos. There are museums, vineyards, quaint shops and more. If you want more details about events and places to visit in Mystic, check out their website. http://thisismystic.com/