Mattatuck State Forest covers over 4,000 acres in the towns of Waterbury, Plymouth, Thomaston, Watertown, Litchfield, and Harwinton and is an important part of the scenic drive along the Naugatuck River. The land on which Mattatuck is located was acquired starting in 1926. This happened through a mix of land donations by the Black Rock Association and purchases by the state.
Today’s forest hides evidence of the region’s rugged past, including quarries, lime kilns, house foundations, agricultural fields, and charcoal mounds. Signs of the region’s history of industry and resource exploitation abound. Our modern maturing forest composition and structure are a product of repeated clearcutting and forest fire activity from centuries past, as well as from more recent fires. This is an ironic truth about Connecticut forests—that many of the most treasured and scenic locales are a product of disturbance on a grand scale. It is also a sure sign of nature’s resilience and of the determination of resource managers and conservationists.
Today, Mattatuck is managed responsibly and scientifically for forest products and wildlife habitat, as well as for recreational activities such as hiking and hunting. There are miles of rugged trails with scenic overlooks in convenient proximity to the city of Waterbury and surrounding towns. The forested corridor of Mattatuck provides a transition from the more industrial/urban landscape of the Naugatuck Valley to the “quieter” countryside of the Litchfield Hills.
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