I like to get outdoors and walk, especially if my surroundings are beautiful. 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
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. There is 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.
To begin, I suggest you take the first left turn into a parking lot. Here you will overlook a narrow marsh like 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 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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
As you leave Voluntown and enter Sterling you will see a small church on the right. Built in 1858, this is the "Line Church". Built 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 up 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
A Nostalgic Old School House
If you turn right out of the Pachaug Forest and head south on Route 49, 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.
Check Out the Rhododendron Walk in Autumn
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.
© 2011 Ellen Gregory
Would You Like to Spend a Day Here? - Everyone is welcome to comment.
SteveKaye on June 14, 2013:
Thank you for this wonderful tour. The forest must be truly beautiful when the flowers are in bloom.
anonymous on May 19, 2013:
Nice place to be when the trees turn color.
anonymous on April 24, 2013:
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 on November 01, 2012:
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 on September 01, 2012:
This is a wonderful little lens. I love the way you personalized the hike with your own experiences. Angel blessed...
Lori Green from Las Vegas on July 17, 2012:
Einar A on March 25, 2012:
Thanks for the tour of this beautiful place. It was fun searching for the hidden frog, too!
JoshK47 on February 03, 2012:
Looks like a gorgeous place! Thank you very much for sharing!
Nicole from Bethel, CT on November 30, 2011:
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!!!!! :)
Patricia on October 24, 2011:
I would like to live in Connecticut. I am attracted to the southern area. Love your lens! Blessing it!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 11, 2011:
This is a place I'd love. Looks very peaceful.
Melissa from Albuquerque, NM on September 14, 2011:
How relaxing and beautiful!
This lens blessed by a Squid Angel.
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on September 03, 2011:
@LaraineRoses: Thanjks you so much for your comment. If they are really noisy for their size, they might be peepers.
Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on September 02, 2011:
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.
Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on August 27, 2011:
Oh, rhododendrons, instantly brings "My Cousin Rachel" to mind.
anonymous on August 23, 2011:
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 on August 20, 2011:
Oh yes, I would love to spend the day there. It's splendid.
anonymous on August 19, 2011:
The walking trail looks peaceful. Thanks for sharing.
Beas on August 17, 2011:
Loved taking a peek in Eastern Connecticut!
Ann Hinds from So Cal on August 16, 2011:
This is truly beautiful. Feel like I've taken a walk in a special place. Angel blessed.
ElizabethJeanAl on August 15, 2011:
I love walking. It's too hot to walk now but fall is right around the corner.
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on August 12, 2011:
@mbgphoto: Thank you so much for the blessing!
Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on August 12, 2011:
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on August 10, 2011:
@spiritualll: Thank you very much. It's nice to hear.
spiritualll on August 10, 2011:
I've seen your lenses!
They are nice!
Good luck on squidoo and may you earn much money!